Newton and the Dutch “Newtonians”: 1713–1750

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This chapter touches on various elements of the reception of Isaac Newton’s ideas in the Netherlands, in particular on three strands in the reception of the Principia. The first is the use, by a group of Amsterdam mathematicians including Bernard Nieuwentijt, of several of Newton’s theological ideas in order to combat Spinoza’s system. Second is Herman Boerhaave’s rather superficial use of Newton’s epistemological statements, which led Boerhaave to claim that Newton’s method would end controversies in science and ward off scepticism. Third are W.J. ’s Gravesande and Petrus van Musschenbroek, the most famous “Newtonians” of the Netherlands, who used certain themes of Newton in order to develop their own theories of knowledge. Taken together, these three strands show that Newton’s ideas were appropriated and developed in many different ways in the Netherlands. Differences and agreements between the strands can shed new light on the development of “Newtonianism” in the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Newton
EditorsEric Schliesser, Chris Smeenk
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Pagespublished online
ISBN (Print)9780199930418
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2017


  • Isaac Newton
  • Newtonianism
  • Dutch Republic
  • Bernard Nieuwentijt
  • Petrus Van Musschenbroek
  • W. J. 's Gravesande
  • Spinoza
  • Adriaen Verwer
  • Lambert ten Kate
  • Herman Boerhaave
  • Jean Le Clerc


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