Qui caste hanc methodum sequitur: W. J. ‘s Gravesande’s appropriation of Newton’s methodology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)

Abstract

Willem Jacob 's Gravesande (1688-1742) was as the literature has it one of the most influential advocates of Newtonianism on the Continent. In view of the position he took in the dispute over vis viva 's Gravesande's occasionally critical attitude towards Newton's doctrines has been correctly brought to the fore. Yet despite such mitigation of his Newtonianism it has been maintained that he was an advocate of Newton's methodology. In the third edition of his magnum opus 's Gravesande himself had signalled that being a Newtonian philosopher is not contingent upon whether one accepts Newton's doctrines ad literam; rather, a Newtonian philosopher is he who follows Newton's method. Correspondingly Gravesande's 'Newtonianism' was essentially methodological, it is claimed: although he may have been selective in his endorsement of Newton's doctrines, his adherence to Newton's method was unremitting. In this presentation I seek to qualify and even challenge this assessment. Based on a thorough survey of 's Gravesande's oeuvre I shall spell out the details concerning his appropriation of Newton's natural philosophy and methodology in particular. I shall argue that: i. by restricting the scope of physics to the study of universal effects 's Gravesande radicalized some of Newton's methodological precepts ii. 's Gravesande attempted to provide a secure basis for the certainty of Newton's natural philosophy by assimilating it into an epistemological framework that was alien to Newton iii. 's Gravesande's omission of Newton's fourth regula philosophandi reflects profound epistemological and methodological differences between him and Newton iv. 's Gravesande did not call attention to significant features of Newton's methodology v. 's Gravesande never developed a detailed picture of how mathematics and experimentation are to be integrated exactly and vi. 's Gravesande's views on 'theory confirmation' were at odds with Newton's views on the matter. To sum up I will document how 's Gravesande integrated Newtonian and non-Newtonian elements into an eclectic account of physica.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference 'Newton and his Reception', Edward Worth Library, Dublin, 12-13 July 2012
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2012
EventInternational Conference 'Newton and his Reception' - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 12 Jul 201213 Jul 2012

Publication series

NameInternational Conference 'Newton and his Reception', Edward Worth Library, Dublin, 12-13 July 2012

Conference

ConferenceInternational Conference 'Newton and his Reception'
CountryIreland
CityDublin
Period12/07/1213/07/12

Keywords

  • W.J. 's Gravesande
  • Isaac Newton
  • History of Scientific Methodology
  • Newtonianism

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