This collection of specially commissioned essays by leading scholars presents research on Isaac Newton and his main philosophical interlocutors and critics. The essays analyze Newton's relation to his contemporaries, especially Barrow, Descartes, Leibniz and Locke and discuss the ways in which a broad range of figures, including Hume, Maclaurin, Maupertuis and Kant, reacted to his thought. The wide range of topics discussed includes the laws of nature, the notion of force, the relation of mathematics to nature, Newton's argument for universal gravitation, his attitude toward philosophical empiricism, his use of 'fluxions', his approach toward measurement problems and his concept of absolute motion, together with new interpretations of Newton's matter theory. The volume concludes with an extended essay that analyzes the changes in physics wrought by Newton's Principia. A substantial introduction and bibliography provide essential reference guides.
Andrew Janiak is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. He is the editor of Newton: Philosophical Writings (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and author of Newton as Philosopher (Cambridge University Press, 2008). His most recent article is 'Substance and Action in Descartes and Newton' in The Monist (No 93, October 2010). He writes on early modern natural philosophy and on Kant. Eric Schliesser is BOF Research Professor of Philosophy at Ghent University. He has published widely on Newton, Huygens and their eighteenth-century reception (especially Hume and Adam Smith) as well as in the philosophy of economics. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on Isaac Newton (Oxford University Press).
Introduction Andrew Janiak and Eric Schliesser; Part I. Newton and his Contemporaries: 1. Newton's law-constitutive approach to bodies: a response to Descartes Katherine Brading; 2. Leibniz, Newton and force Daniel Garber; 3. Locke's qualified embrace of Newton's Principia Mary Domski; 4. What geometry postulates: Newton and Barrow on the relationship of mathematics to nature Katherine Dunlop; Part II. Philosophical Themes in Newton: 5. Cotes' queries: Newton's Empiricism and Conceptions of Matter Zvi Biener and Chris Smeenk; 6. Newton's Scientific Method and the Universal Law of Gravitation Ori Belkind; 7. Measurement and method: some remarks on Newton, Huygens and Euler on natural philosophy William Harper; 8. What did Newton mean by 'Absolute Motion'? Nick Huggett; 9. From velocities to fluxions Marco Panza; Part III. The Reception of Newton: 10. Newton, Locke, and Hume Graciela de Pierris; 11. Maupertuis on attraction as an inherent property of matter Lisa Downing; 12. The Newtonian refutation of Spinoza: Newton's Challenge and the Socratic Problem Eric Schliesser; 13. Dispositional explanations: Boyle's problem, Newton's solution, Hume's response Lynn Joy; 14. Newton and Kant on Absolute Space: from theology to transcendental philosophy Michael Friedman; 15. How Newton's Principia changed physics George Smith; Bibliography.