ISAAC NEWTON

(1642-1727)
 

 


NEWTON, Isaac, (1642-1727), mathematician and natural philosopher. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1667 and in 1669 succeeded I. Barrow as Lucasian Professor of mathematics. In 1688–9 and 1703–5 he represented the university in the House of Commons. After 1694 he moved to London, being appointed Master of the Mint in 1699 and knighted by Queen Anne in 1705. He had been a, member of the Royal Society since 1672 and was its president front 1703 until his death.

Newton was the most eminent physicist of his day, and his work is a landmark in the study of mathematics. Among his principal achievements are the formulation of the law of gravitation, the discovery of the differential calculus, and the first correct analysis of white light. In his celebrated Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) he gives expression also to his religious convictions. Belief in God rests for him chiefly on the admirable order of the universe. He acknowledges the Divine transcendence, omnipotence, and perfection, and combats the pantheistic idea of a world soul. God is the Supreme Being, with complete authority over the material universe as well as over human souls, which owe Him absolute submission.

Though a conforming Churchman, Newton was not orthodox. In private, he denied the doctrine of the Trinity on the ground that such a belief was inaccessible to reason. He was a friend of the Cambridge Platonist, H. More, whose millenarian interests he shared; some of his speculation in this field were embodied in his Observation on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John (posthumous, 1733). His concern with the problems of reconciling biblical with secular history is reflected in The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (posthumous, 1728). His more exclusively scientific works include optics (1704) and Arithmetica Universalis (1707).

Collected works ed. S. Horsley (5 vol.s., London, 1779–85). Crit. edns. of Papers and Letters on Natural Philosophy and Related Documents by I. B. Cohen (Cambridge, 1958; 2nd edn., Cam­bridge, Mass., and London, 1978), of Correspondence by H. W. Turnbull and others (7 vols., Cambridge, 1959–77), of Unpublished Scientific Papers ed. and tr. by A. R. Hall and M. B. Hall (ibid., 1962), of Mathematical Papers by D. T. Whiteside (8 vols., ibid., 1967–81), and of Optical Papers, ed, A. E. Shapiro (ibid., 1984 ff.). Sir Isaac Newton’s Theological Manuscripts selected and ed. H. McLachlan (Liverpool, 1950). Classic Life by D. Brewster (2 vols., London, 1855). Modern account by R. S. Westfall, Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton (Cambridge, 1980), with full bibl. Other Lives by L. T. More (New York and London, 1934), J. W. N. Sullivan (London, 1938), E. N. da C. Andrade (ibid., 1950), S. I. Wawilow (Berlin, 1951), and F. E. Manuel (Cambridge, Mass, 1968). F. Rosenberger, Isaac Newton und seine physikalischen Principien (Leipzig, 1895). H. Metzger, Attraction universelle et religion naturelle chez quelques commentateurs anglais de Newton (1938). Newton Tercentenary Celebrations (Cambridge, 1947). F. E. Manuel, Isaac Newton Historian (Cambridge, Mass., 1963); id., The Religion of Isaac Newton (Oxford, 1974). A. [A.] Koyré, Newtonian Studies (1965), I. B. Cohen, The Newtonian Revolution (1980).


xcxxcxxc  F ” “ This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990....x....   “”.