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Isaac Newton's Natural Philosophy

Publisher: 
MIT Press
Number of Pages: 
374
Price: 
22.00
ISBN: 
978-0262524254

Though today we know much more about Isaac Newton than we did, say, 50 years ago, he still remains something of a puzzle. Should we think of him as the founder of modern science or as "the last magician," as John Maynard Keynes argued in the 1930s? What are we to make of a man whose writings include extensive material on mathematics, physics, alchemy, and Biblical prophecy?

Isaac Newton's Natural Philosophy opens with a short essay on the history of Newton studies since 1850, highlighting the importance of the careful work on Newton's manuscripts undertaken by several scholars beginning in the 1960s. Of these, perhaps the most impressive is D. T. Whitehead's The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton, a monumental — and, at eight huge volumes, massive — work that has still not been absorbed by historians in general. (Alas, this has been allowed to go out of print, which is just too bad.)

This book is a collection of essays by Newton scholars. The first four deal with "motivations and methods," while the remaining six focus on specific aspects of Newton's celestial mechanics and mathematical physics. The last essay is by Richard Westfall (author of the best Newton biography available, Never at Rest). Westfall died before putting the final touches on the essay, so the book also includes a memorial tribute by I. Bernard Cohen.

This affordable paperback is recommended for anyone who is interested in understanding Newton's scientific work in its historical context.

Softcover, 376 pp., $22.00. ISBN 0-262-52425-2. Also available in hardcover ISBN 0-262-02477-2.


Fernando Q. Gouvêa is Professor of Mathematics at Colby College, editor of FOCUS and FOCUS Online, and co-author of Math through the Ages.

Date Received: 
Sunday, June 6, 2004
Reviewable: 
Yes
Include In BLL Rating: 
No
Jed Z. Buchwald and I. Bernard Cohen
Publication Date: 
2004
Format: 
Paperback
Category: 
Anthology
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
07/29/2004

Introduction
Jed Z. Buchwald and I. Bernard Cohen
vii
Contributors xix
I Motivations and Methods 1
1 To Twist the Meaning: Newton's Regulae Philosophandi Revisited
Maurizio Mamiani
Download Chapter as PDF Sample Chapter - Download PDF (85 KB)
3
2 The Case of the Missing Author: The Title Page of Newton's Opticks (1704), with Notes on the Title Page of Huygen's Traité de la Lumière
I. Bernard Cohen
15
3 Newton's Experiments on Diffraction and the Delayed Publication of the Opticks
Alan E. Shapiro
47
4 Mathematicians and Naturalists: Sir Isaac Newton and the Royal Society
Mordechai Feingold
77
II Celestial Dynamics and Rational Mechanics 103
5 Newton's Mature Dynamics: A Crooked Path Made Straight
J. Bruce Brackenridge
105
6 Newton on the Moon's Variation and Apsidal Motion: The Need for a Newer "New Analysis"
Curtis Wilson
139
7 Newton's Perturbation Methods for the Three-Body Problem and Their Application to Lunar Motion
Michael Nauenberg
189
8 Force, Continuity, and the Mathematization of Motion at the End of the Seventeenth Century
Michel Blay
225
9 The Newtonian Style in Book II of the Principia
George E. Smith
249
Appendix: Newton on Fluid Resistance in the First Edition: English Translations of the Passages Replaced or Removed in the Second and Third Editions
Translated by I. Bernard Cohen, Julia Budenz, Anne Whitman and George E. Smith
299
Appendix 315
Some Recollections of Richard Samuel Westfall (1924-1996)
I. Bernard Cohen
317
The Background to the Mathematization of Nature
Richard S. Westfall
321
Index
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Monday, November 12, 2007

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