De briefwisseling tussen Huygens, Leibniz, Fatio De Duillier en Newton

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The correspondence between the three main natural philosophers of the end of the seventeenth century and a close friend of Newton’s has hitherto received surpisingly little attention. In this contribution I present this correspondence, of which I am preparing a one-volume, commented edition, in its nature and scope. It took place over the crucial period between 1687 and 1695 (death of Huygens), in which Newton envisaged a new edition of his Principia, to be edited by Fatio de Duillier, and later on by David Gregory, who got connected to this exchange as well. It is my aim to show that the Huygens-Leibniz-Fatio-Newton correspondence is as important as the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence more than a decade later, and even more, that the latter is not truly comprehensible without the former. Fatio De Duillier was a Swiss mathematician and protestant radical who worked with the Italian astronomer Cassini and later with Huygens, who recommended him to Leibniz in 1686. Since 1687 he was in London where he regularly visited the Royal Society. He was the intermediary between the three great men, who were in a discrete but thorough exchange of ideas concerning the dynamics of heavenly bodies, the concept of space, and the nature of force, fostered by the publication of Newton’s "Principia" (1687), Leibniz’s "Tentamen de motuum coelestium causis" (1689), and Huygens’s "Discours de la cause de la pesanteur" (1690). The correspondence shows that the debate took place in a much more favourable, open-minded atmosphere than its sequel in 1715. Moreover, Fatio played an intriguing rôle in attempts to bridge the gap between the different positions by proposing an intermediate position in his own "De la Cause de la Pesanteur" (1691), which was considered for a while by both sides: a mechanist theory of gravity based on the impact from all directions of subtle particles on solid bodies. His position claims to reconcile mechanism with the Newtonian vacuum, at the expense of the aequivalence of matter and space. It moreover shows that Fatio had access to some of Newton’s private papers hitherto believed to be seen only by David Gregory. Finally, it sheds new light on a fundamental change in Huygens’s own ideas on motus verus toward the end of his life.

Vertaalde titel van de bijdrageDe briefwisseling tussen Huygens, Leibniz, Fatio De Duillier en Newton
Originele taal-2English
StatusIn preparation - 2019

Publicatie series

NaamMedieval and Early Modern Science

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