Isaac Newton and Natural Philosophy

Niccolò Guicciardini

Isaac Newton and Natural Philosophy

Niccolò Guicciardini

Distributed for Reaktion Books

272 pages | 10 color plates, 30 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2018
Cloth $22.50 ISBN: 9781780239064 Will Publish February 2018 For sale in North and South America only
Isaac Newton is one of the greatest scientists in history, yet the spectrum of his interests was much broader than that of most contemporary scientists. In fact, Newton would have defined himself not as a scientist, but as a natural philosopher. He was deeply involved in alchemical, religious, and biblical studies, and in the later part of his life he played a prominent role in British politics, economics, and the promotion of scientific research. Newton’s pivotal work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which sets out his laws of universal gravitation and motion, is regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science.

Niccolò Guicciardini’s enlightening biography offers an accessible introduction both to Newton’s celebrated research in mathematics, optics, mechanics, and astronomy and to how Newton viewed these scientific fields in relation to his quest for the deepest secrets of the universe, matter theory and religion. Guicciardini sets Newton the natural philosopher in the troubled context of the religious and political debates ongoing during Newton’s life, a life spanning the English Civil Wars, the Restoration, the Glorious Revolution, and the Hanoverian succession. Incorporating the latest Newtonian scholarship, this fast-paced biography broadens our perception of both this iconic figure and the great scientific revolution of the early modern period.
Review Quotes
Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge
“In this elegant and perceptive biography, one of the leading scholars of Isaac Newton’s career provides a clear and often startling summary of the life of one of the greatest early modern scholars and philosophers of nature. With considerable intellectual balance and literary vigour, this book explores the full range of Newton’s achievements, both in the mathematics and natural philosophy which laid the foundations of his cosmology and mechanics, and his strenuously reasoned and absorbing analysis of scripture and prophecy, alchemy and apocalypse. Guicciardini is especially keen to put Newton back into the world where he labored and flourished, a milieu he shows was very different from that of current sciences or of modern religious thought to which Newton’s enterprise nevertheless made the most decisive contributions. The book offers a fascinating introduction to the aims and achievements of a towering figure of European intellectual culture.”
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