The Methodological Heritage of Newton

The Methodological Heritage of Newton

ROBERT E. BUTTS
JOHN W. DAVIS
Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 170
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt15jvz74
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  • Book Info
    The Methodological Heritage of Newton
    Book Description:

    The essays included in this volume are concerned with assessing Newton's contribution to the thought of others. They explore all aspects of the conceptual background-historical, philosophical, and narrowly methodological-and examine questions that developed in the wake of Newton's science./p>

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3278-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    R.E.B. and J.W.D.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. I Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)
    ROBERT E. BUTTS and JOHN W. DAVIS

    A colloquium entitled “The Methodological Heritage of Newton” was held on 31 March and 1 April 1967, at the University of Western Ontario. The papers by Hanson, Priestley, and Buchdahl were delivered at the colloquium. The authors have revised the texts as they wish them to appear here.

    The session on Buchdahl’s paper was chaired by Professor Lewis W. Beck of the University of Rochester; the session on Priestley’s paper by Professor Nicholas Rescher of the University of Pittsburgh; and the session on Hanson’s paper by Professor E. H. Madden of State University of New York at Buffalo.

    Because of...

  5. II Hypotheses Fingo
    (pp. 14-33)
    N. R. HANSON

    “Hypotheses non fingo” has meant different things to different people, for different reasons. For example, when Ernst Mach addressed this slogan he wrote as follows: “Newton’s reiterated and emphatic protestations that he is not concerned with hypotheses as to the causes of phenomena, but as simply to do with the investigation and transformed statement ofactual facts– a direction of thought that is distinctly and tersely uttered in his words ‘Hypotheses non Fingo’ (‘I do not frame hypotheses’) – stamps him as a philosopher of the highest rank.”¹ Thus did Mach acknowledge the intellectual existence of Sir Isaac Newton...

  6. III The Clarke-Leibniz Controversy
    (pp. 34-56)
    F. E. L. PRIESTLEY

    The conflict between Newton and Leibniz was for some years confined almost exclusively within the circle of the learned, and was fought with some suggestion of reluctance and avoidance of open provocation on Newton’s part. In the 1706 edition of theOpticks, obviously designed for Continental consumption, Descartes is attacked by name, but not Leibniz, and the attacks are directed against physical theories, not against philosophical and theological positions. The first break in this relative reticence seems to come with Cotes’ preface to the 1713Principia, and there are good grounds for believing that the more aggressive passages were introduced...

  7. IV Berkeley, Newton, and Space
    (pp. 57-73)
    JOHN W. DAVIS

    Berkeley opens the account inPrinciples, sections 110–17 by mentioning Newton with esteem: “The best grammar of the kind we are speaking of, will be easily acknowledg’d to be a treatise of mechanics, demonstrated and applied to Nature, by a philosopher of a neighbouring nation whom all the world admire.”¹ Personal polemics are reserved for “minute philosophers” and mathematicians other than Newton. Since thePrincipleswas written in Ireland, it was quite in order for Berkeley to speak of Newton as a “philosopher of a neighbouring nation.” Because the work was published in Dublin the likelihood of its having...

  8. V Gravity and Intelligibility: Newton to Kant
    (pp. 74-102)
    GERD BUCHDAHL

    One of the problems created by Newton’s dynamics was that of the intelligibility of gravitational attraction; and it is this which I want to make the central topic of this paper. I want to show how the resulting perplexities led, particularly in the Kantian reaction to Newton’s work, to a more articulated methodological structure of scientific hypotheses. The story of Newton’s complex views on gravitation has been told in recent years with increasing finesse, so there is no need to tell it again in detail.¹ I shall select for attention only some of the logical aspects of the situation, enough...

  9. VI Thomas Reid and the Newtonian Turn of British Methodological Thought
    (pp. 103-131)
    L. L. LAUDAN

    In the famous passage in the preface to hisTreatise, Hume expressed the fervent hope that he could do for moral philosophy what Newton had done for natural philosophy.¹ In eighteenth-century ethics, literature, political theory, theology, and of course, natural science, similar sentiments were expressed openly and frequently.² Newton’sPrincipiaseemed to have established, almost overnight, new standards for rigour of thought, clarity of intuition, economy of expression and,above all, the certainty of its conclusions. At long last, natural philosophy, which had hitherto been open to such controversy and speculation, was established on an unshakable foundation. It was tempting...

  10. VII Whewell on Newton’s Rules of Philosophizing
    (pp. 132-149)
    ROBERT E. BUTTS

    Throughout his scientific and philosophical career William Whewell had a deep concern for methodological issues. His own positive methodological theories were developed in the three editions ofPhilosophy of the Inductive Sciences.¹ Also relatively well known is his exchange with Mill on a large range of topics touching on induction.² But what is perhaps not so well known about Whewell’s interest in methodology is that it was a partly practical, not merely philosophical, interest. His search for methods showed an abiding concern for discovering the best ways of accumulating scientific knowledge; he wished to hand on to his followers a...

  11. VIII Classical Empiricism
    (pp. 150-170)
    PAUL K. FEYERABEND

    In the present paper I want to describe certain features of post-Galilean, or “classical,” science that deserve greater attention than has been given them so far. These features are summarized in the following three points:

    i. Thepracticeof post-Galilean science iscriticalin the sense that it allows for the revision of any part of it, however fundamental and however close to “experience.” Resistance must of course occasionally be overcome, but the resistance is never strong enough tostabilize completelysome particular piece of knowledge.

    ii. This critical practice is accompanied by adogmatic ideology. The ideology admits that...