Isaac Newton and Natural Philosophy

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Reaktion Books, Feb 15, 2018 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
Isaac Newton is one of the greatest scientists in history, yet the spectrum of his interests was much broader than that of most contemporary scientists. In fact, Newton would have defined himself not as a scientist, but as a natural philosopher. He was deeply involved in alchemical, religious, and biblical studies, and in the later part of his life he played a prominent role in British politics, economics, and the promotion of scientific research. Newton’s pivotal work PhilosophiŠ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which sets out his laws of universal gravitation and motion, is regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science.

Niccol˛ Guicciardini’s enlightening biography offers an accessible introduction both to Newton’s celebrated research in mathematics, optics, mechanics, and astronomy and to how Newton viewed these scientific fields in relation to his quest for the deepest secrets of the universe, matter theory and religion. Guicciardini sets Newton the natural philosopher in the troubled context of the religious and political debates ongoing during Newton’s life, a life spanning the English Civil Wars, the Restoration, the Glorious Revolution, and the Hanoverian succession. Incorporating the latest Newtonian scholarship, this fast-paced biography broadens our perception of both this iconic figure and the great scientific revolution of the early modern period.

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Contents

Images of Newton
7
1 From Woolsthorpe to Cambridge 16421664
22
2 Early Achievements 16651668
42
3 A Young Professor and His Audience 16691674
76
4 A Maturing Scholar 16751683
102
5 Natural Philosopher 16841695
143
6 The Last Years 16961727
180
Chronology
233
References
237
Bibliography
253
Acknowledgements
257
Photo Acknowledgements
259
Index
261
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About the author (2018)

Niccol˛ Guicciardini teaches history of science at the University of Bergamo, Italy. He is the author of Reading the Principia: The Debate on Newton’s Mathematical Methods for Natural Philosophy from 1687 to 1736 and Isaac Newton on Mathematical Certainty and Method.

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