Reading the Principia: The Debate on Newton's Mathematical Methods for Natural Philosophy from 1687 to 1736

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 30, 2003 - Science - 292 pages
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Isaac Newton's Principia is considered one of the masterpieces in the history of science. The mathematical methods employed by Newton in the Principia stimulated much debate among his contemporaries, especially Leibniz, Huygens, Bernoulli and Euler, who debated their merits and drawbacks. Among the questions they asked were: How should natural philosophy be mathematized?; Is it legitimate to use uninterpreted symbols?; Is it possible to depart from the established Archimedean or Galilean/Huygenian tradition of geometrizing nature?; What is the value of elegance and conciseness?; What is the relation between Newton's geometrical methods and the calculus? This book explains how Newton addressed these issues, taking into consideration the values that directed the research of Newton and his contemporaries. This book will be of interest to researchers and advanced students in departments of history of science, philosophy of science, physics, mathematics and astronomy.
  

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Contents

Purpose of this book
1
Newtons methods
17
The mathematical methods of the Principia
39
Three readers
99
Huygens the Principia and proportion theory
118
Leibniz not equivalent in practice
136
Two schools
169
Basel challenging the Principia
195
Conclusion Newtonians Leibnizians and Eulerians
250
Appendix
263
References
265
Index
281
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About the author (2003)

Niccol- Guicciardini holds degrees in physics and philosophy awarded by the Universit... degli Studi di Milano. His Ph.D. thesis in the history of mathematics was written under the supervision of Ivor Grattan-Guinness at Middlesex Polytechnic and was published by Cambridge University Press in 1989 as The Development of Newtonian Calculus in Britain, 1700-1800. He is Co-Editor in Chief of Historia Mathematica and is a recipient of the Sarton Medal for 2011-2012, awarded by the University of Ghent, Belgium.

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