"The main Business of natural Philosophy": Isaac Newton's Natural-Philosophical Methodology

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In this monograph Steffen Ducheyne provides a historically detailed and systematically rich explication of Newton's methodology. Throughout the pages of this book it will be shown that Newton developed a complex natural-philosophical methodology which encompassed procedures to minimize inductive risk during the process of theory formation and which thereby surpassed a standard hypothetico-deductive methodological setting. Accordingly, it will be highlighted that the so-called Newtonian Revolution was not restricted to the empirical and theoretical dimensions of science, but applied equally to the methodological dimension of science. Furthermore it will be documented that Newton's methodology was far from static and that it developed alongside with his scientific work. Attention will be paid not only to the successes of Newton's innovative methodology but equally to its tensions and limitations. Based on a thorough study of Newton's extant manuscripts, this monograph will address and contextualize, inter alia, Newton's causal realism, his views on action at a distance and space and time, the status of efficient causation in the Principia, the different phases of his methodology, his treatment of force and the constituents of the physico-mathematical models in the context of Book I of the Principia, the analytic part of the argument for universal gravitation, the meaning and significance of his regulae philosophandi, the methodological differences between his mechanical and optical work, and, finally, the exact nature of the interplay between Newton's theology and his natural philosophy.


List of Figures


Part I: Newton's Causal Methodology
1 Newton and the Causes: Something Borrowed and Something New
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Stewart's Objection: The Logical Problem of Analysis and Synthesis
1.3 Newton's Early Aristotelian Training
1.4 Textbooks on Logic and Method
1.5 Newton on Natural-philosophical Analysis and Synthesis
1.6 Centripetal Forces as Causes
1.7 Newton on Action at a Distance
1.8 Conclusion
Coda: Did Newton Actually Mean 'Explanations'?
Appendix: Transcription of CUL Add. Ms. 3968, f. 109r-v [early 1710s]

Part II: Newton's Methodology, or: How to Deduce Causes by Their Effects
2 Uncovering the Methodology of the Principia (I): The Phase of Model Construction
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Newton's Rejection of the Method of Hypothesis
2.3 The Strong Version of I. Bernard Cohen's 'Newtonian Style' and its Predicament
2.4 The Constituents of Newton's Models in Books I
2.4.1 Newton's Definitions
2.4.2 Newton's Laws of Motion
2.4.3 The Mathematical Machinery of the Principia
2.4.4 The Constituents of the Models in Book I-II
2.5 Crucial Sorts of Propositions of Book I
2.5.1 Inferring Inverse-square Centripetal Forces from Exact or Quam Proxime Keplerian Motion
2.5.2 The Harmonic Rule
2.5.3 Many-Body Systems
2.5.4 The Attractive Forces of Spherical Bodies
2.6 Newton's Methodology Part I: Book I as an "Autonomous Enterprise"

3 Uncovering the Methodology of the Principia (II): The Phase of Model Application and Theory Formation
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The Development of Newton's Regulae Philosophandi
3.3 Justifying the Absence of a Resisting Medium
3.4 The Arguments for Universal Gravitation: The Analysis
3.4.1 Propositions I-II: The Inference of Inverse-square Centripetal Forces Acting on the Primary and Secondary Planets
3.4.2 Propositions III-IV: The Inference of an Inverse-square Centripetal Force Acting on the Moon
3.4.3 Proposition V: From Centripetal Force to "Gravity"
3.4.4 Proposition VI: Weight-Mass Proportionality
3.4.5 Proposition VII-VIII: Universal Gravitation
3.5 The Argument for Universal Gravitation: The Synthesis
3.6 An Outline of Newton's Methodology in Book III of the Principia
Appendix I: Relevant Additions and Changes occurring in the Second Edition of the Principia (1713)
Appendix II: Relevant Additions and Changes occurring in the Third Edition of the Principia (1726)

4 Facing the Limits of Deductions from Phenomena: Newton's Quest for a Mathematical-Demonstrative Optics
4.1 Introduction
4.2 The Opticks as an Incomplete Treatise
4.3 The Corporality of Light as Hypothesis
4.4 Newton's Argument for the Heterogeneity of White Light
4.5 Scrutinizing Newton's Two Conclusions
4.6 Early Newton's Demonstrative Rhetoric
4.7 Further Problems in The Opticks
4.8 Looking with Unseeing Eyes into the Invisible Realm: The Problem of Transduction
4.9 Newton on Non-Gravitational Forces
4.10 The Asymmetry between the Principia and The Opticks
Appendix I: Transcription of CUL Add. Ms. 3965, f. 422r [ca. 1715]
Appendix II: A Paragraph-by-paragraph Inventory of the Suppressed Preface and Conclusio to the First Edition of the Principia

5 Uncovering the Methodology of the Principia (III): A Brief Chronology of Newton's Methodological Itinerary
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Early Period (ca. 1671-1675): Mathematizing Optics
5.3 The Principia-Period (ca. 1684-1687): The Principia and its Methodology
5.4 The Post-Principia Period (ca. 1690-1704): The Implications of the Principia Methodology for Newton's Optical Research
5.5 The Later Period (ca. 1713-1726): Inductive Provisionalism

Part III: Newton's Theology
6 "To Treat of God from Phenomena"
6.1 Introduction
6.2 The Theology of the General Scholium
6.3 Newton on the Dangers of Cartesian philosophy
6.4 The Interaction between Newton's Natural Philosophy and his Theology (I): Case-Studies
6.4.1 Case One: Methodizing Prophesy
6.4.2 Case Two: Newton on Space and Time
6.5 The Interaction between Newton's Natural Philosophy and his Theology (II): General Discussion and Conclusion
Appendix I: Catalogue of the Manuscript Material Directly Related to the General Scholium
Appendix II: Manuscripts from the Portsmouth Collection Related to the Classical Scholia
Appendix III: Manuscript Transcription of An Account of the Systeme of the World

7 Conclusion


Originele taal-2English
Plaats van productieDordrecht
Aantal pagina's378
ISBN van geprinte versie978-94-007-2125-8
StatusPublished - 2012

Publicatie series

NaamArchimedes: New Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
ISSN van geprinte versie1385-0180

Bibliografische nota

Jed Z. Buchwald


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