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.
Jed Z. Buchwald and I. Bernard Cohen
|I||Motivations and Methods||1|
|1||To Twist the Meaning: Newton's Regulae Philosophandi Revisited
Sample Chapter - Download PDF (85 KB)
|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
|3||Newton's Experiments on Diffraction and the Delayed Publication of the Opticks
Alan E. Shapiro
|4||Mathematicians and Naturalists: Sir Isaac Newton and the Royal Society
|II||Celestial Dynamics and Rational Mechanics||103|
|5||Newton's Mature Dynamics: A Crooked Path Made Straight
J. Bruce Brackenridge
|6||Newton on the Moon's Variation and Apsidal Motion: The Need for a Newer "New Analysis"
|7||Newton's Perturbation Methods for the Three-Body Problem and Their Application to Lunar Motion
|8||Force, Continuity, and the Mathematization of Motion at the End of the Seventeenth Century
|9||The Newtonian Style in Book II of the Principia
George E. Smith
|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
|Some Recollections of Richard Samuel Westfall (1924-1996)
I. Bernard Cohen
|The Background to the Mathematization of Nature
Richard S. Westfall