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Newton is an evocative intellectual history of the life and ideas of Isaac Newton the natural philosopher, covering his influential thoughts about philosophical problems, our knowledge of nature, and even the nature of the divine.

  • Offers a comprehensive and highly accessible introduction to the life and ideas of Isaac Newton, emphasizing his influential contributions to the field of philosophy
  • Covers the principal philosophical topics that captivated Newton’s mind, from our knowledge of nature to the nature of the divine
  • Includes the most recent and innovative research regarding Newton’s views on theology and philosophy
  • Emphasizes the philosophical importance of Newton’s work to the history of philosophy and his engagement with the ideas of both historic and contemporary figures such as Galileo and Descartes, Leibniz and Locke

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Acknowledgments viii

Preface ix

1 Life and times 1

1.1 Background and childhood 4

1.2 Early years in cambridge 5

1.3 Mature years in cambridge and london 8

1.4 Final years 11

2 Was newton a scientist? 17

3 Making philosophy experimental: boyle and hobbes and hooke and newton 37

3.1 Boyle’s debate with hobbes 41

3.2 Hooke’s debate with newton 49

4 Newton’s struggle with descartes 63

4.1 Setting the historical stage 63

4.2 Descartes’s metaphysical foundation for natural philosophy 64

4.3 Newton’s new natural philosophy: from de gravitatione to the principia 69

4.4 Newton’s new metaphysics: de gravitatione as foundational text 78

5 Making philosophy mathematical 89

5.1 Applying mathematics to nature 89

5.2 Applying mathematics to nature: the cartesian legacy 96

5.3 Newton’s program in natural philosophy 100

5.4 Newton’s mathematical treatment of force 104

6 Newton’s struggle with leibniz 117

6.1 Newton versus leibniz, 1693–1712 118

6.2 The leibniz–clarke correspondence, 1715–1716 129

7 Newton’s god 139

7.1 Newton’s unique approach to theology and natural philosophy 151

7.2 Newton’s philosophical god 161

7.3 The god of the philosophers and the god of the bible 167

Bibliography 177

Index 192

“Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty.”  (Choice, 1 August 2015)