In Search of Newton's Natural Philosophical Method

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2023-06-23
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en
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Abstract
Isaac Newton is considered a giant of science for his achievements in mathematics, optics, and celestial mechanics. He distinguished himself from most of his contemporaries by means of his mathematised and empirical method of natural philosophy. Newton’s methodological statements elicited controversial responses, both in his own time and in ours. Moreover, there are significant differences and incompatibilities in the contemporary scholarly literature on Newton’s method. In this article, I discuss the methodological statements in Newton’s Opticks and Principia – particularly the central terms ‘analysis’, ‘synthesis’, ‘induction’, and ‘deduction’, and Newton’s objective of certainty – and compare four contemporary interpretations of this method. My evaluation will conclude with an endorsement of a historically accurate, but much overlooked, interpretation of Newton’s method by Zev Bechler.
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Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen
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