Reading Newton in Early Modern Europe


Reading Newton in Early Modern Europe investigates how Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia was read, interpreted and remodelled for a variety of readerships in eighteenth-century Europe. The editors, Mordechai Feingold and Elizabethanne Boran, have brought together papers which explore how, when, where and why the Principia was appropriated by readers in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, England and Ireland. Particular focus is laid on the methods of transmission of Newtonian ideas via university textbooks and popular works written for educated laymen and women. At the same time, challenges to the Newtonian consensus are explored by writers such as Marius Stan and Catherine Abou-Nemeh who examine Cartesian and Leibnizian responses to the Principia. Eighteenth-century attempts to remodel Newton as a heretic are explored by Feingold, while William R. Newman draws attention to vital new sources highlighting the importance of alchemy to Newton.

Contributors are: Catherine Abou-Nemeh, Claudia Addabbo, Elizabethanne Boran, Steffen Ducheyne, Moredechai Feingold, Sarah Hutton, Juan Navarro-Loidi, William R. Newman, Luc Peterschmitt, Anna Marie Roos, Marius Stan, and Gerhard Wiesenfeldt.
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Biographical Note

Elizabethanne Boran, Ph. D. (1996), Trinity College, Dublin, is Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin. She is the editor of The Correspondence of James Ussher, 1600-1656, 3 vols (Dublin, 2015) and Aldines at the Edward Worth Library (Dublin, 2015).

Mordechai Feingold is Professor of History at Caltech. He is the editor of the journals Erudition and the republic of Letters (Brill) and History of Universities (Oxford). He is the author of a number of books, including The Mathematicians’ Apprenticeship: Science, Universities and Society in England, 1560-1640 (1984); The Newtonian Moment: Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture (2004); and Newton and the Origin of Civilization (2013), written with Jed Buchwald.

Review Quotes

“This is a well-balanced collection that will be of great value to Newtonian scholars. Summing up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, and faculty.”
M. Dickinson, Maine Maritime Academy. In: Choice Connect, Vol. 55, No. 5 (January 2018).

Table of contents

List of Contributors

1 Introduction
Elizabethanne Boran

Part 1: Introducing Newton

2 The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in Naples
Claudia Addabbo
3 Newton and the Spanish Artillerymen
Juan Navarro Loidi
4 The Practical Tradition of Dutch Newtonianism
Gerhard Wiesenfeldt
5 Science for Ladies? Elizabeth Carter’s Translation of Algarotti and “popular” Newtonianism in the Eighteenth Century
Sarah Hutton
6 Irish Newtonian Physicians and Their Arguments: The Case of Bryan Robinson
A.M. Roos, Ph.D., F.L.S., F.S.A.

Part 2: Challenging Newton

7 Controversies over Comets: Isaac Newton, Nicolas Hartsoeker, and Early Modern World-making
Catherine Abou-Nemeh
8 ’s Gravesande’s and Van Musschenbroek’s Appropriation of Newton’s Methodological Ideas
Steffen Ducheyne
9 Newton’s Concepts of Force among the Leibnizians
Marius Stan
10 How Did Berkeley Read Newton?
Luc Peterschmitt

Part 3: Remodelling Newton

11 Newton’s Reputation as an Alchemist and the Tradition of Chymiatria
William R. Newman
12 Isaac Newton, Heretic? Some Eighteenth-Century Perceptions
Mordechai Feingold



All interested in the reception of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia in Early Modern Europe and how science was communicated to academic and popular audiences in the eighteenth century.

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