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Featured On the Shoulders of Newton . . .

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by Native, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    IMO it is very interesting, explaining and revealing to read how former scientists have come to their conclusions and by what means. All knowledge is founded on the cultural heritage of former ideas in religion and on standing ideas of cosmos, and this of course also goes for Isaac Newton.
    ---------------------
    *General Scholium* is an essay written by Isaac Newton, appended to his work of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, known as the Principia.

    In the essay Newton not only counters the natural philosophy of René Descartes and Gottfried Leibniz, but also addresses issues of scientific methodology, theology, and metaphysics.

    § 1 Newtons religious perception
    "Newton's conception of the physical world provided a stable model of the natural world that would reinforce stability and harmony in the civic world. Newton saw a monotheistic God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation".

    § 2 Newton´s rejection of Cartesian Vortices
    In Newton´s own time he was titled as a Natural Philosopher. Still, he rejects earlier philosophical thoughts based on *mechanical philophy* as decribed below:

    "In the first paragraph of the General Scholium, Newton attacks René Descartes' model of the solar system. Descartes and his supporters were followers of mechanical philosophy, a form of natural philosophy popular in the 17th century which maintained that nature and natural beings act similar to machines.

    In his book The World, Descartes suggests that the creation of the solar system and the circular motion of the planets around the Sun can be explained with the phenomena of "swirling vortices". Descartes also claimed that the world is made out of tiny "corpuscles" of matter, and that no vacuum could exist".

    "Descartes' model did not cohere with the ideas introduced in the first edition of the Principia (1687). Newton simply rejected Descartes' "corpuscles and vortices" theory and suggested that gravitational force acts upon celestial bodies regardless of the vast empty interstellar space in between".

    § 3 Scientific method argument
    "Newton did not offer any reasons or causes for his law of gravity, and was therefore publicly criticised for introducing "occult agencies" into science".

    "The General Scholium then goes on to present Newton's own approach to scientific methodology. Contrary to the deductive approach of Descartes and Leibniz, Newton holds an inductive approach to scientific inquiry. Phenomena should first be observed, and then general rules should be searched for, and not vice versa. It is this approach, states Newton, that has led to the discovery of "the laws of motion and gravitation".

    "In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction. Thus it was that the impenetrability, the mobility, and the impulsive force of bodies, and the laws of motion and of gravitation, were discovered".

    "And to us it is enough, that gravity does really exist, and act according to the laws which we have explained, and abundantly serves to account for all the motions of the celestial bodies, and of our sea".

    § 4 "The Spirit"
    "The General Scholium ends with a mystifying paragraph about a "certain most subtle Spirit, which pervades and lies hid in all gross bodies."

    It has been largely interpreted as Newton's view and prospect of electricity, a phenomenon of which little was known at the time. Newton describes some attributes of this Spirit and concludes:

    "But these are things that cannot be explained in a few words, nor are we furnished with that sufficiency of experiments which is required to an accurate determination and demonstration of the laws which this electric spirit operates".
    ------------------------
    Well, what do you think of and conclude from these informations?

    Note: More relevant and comparative informations of the world perception of René Descartes here.


    Regards from
    Native
     
    #1 Native, Jan 10, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
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  2. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Newton, like almost everyone of his time, had religious views, which he adapted in some respects to his scientific discoveries. He lived at the very start of modern science, when it was still in the process of disentangling itself from alchemy and magic, and many of his ideas were not really scientific. Those that have not stood the test of time, as science moved forward, are just historical curiosities today.

    There is a good book on on Newton's world and thought by Michael White, called "The Last Sorcerer".
     
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  3. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    Thanks Exchemist.
    Do you have specific comments to the OP numbered paragraphs?
     
  4. Regiomontanus

    Regiomontanus retired astronomer

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    Yes, he was very religious and very unorthodox by the way, firmly (to put it mildly) against Trinitarianism. A book came out just a few years ago about this. I highly recommend it:

    Priest of Nature - Wikipedia
     
  5. Regiomontanus

    Regiomontanus retired astronomer

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    Modern scientists think they understand Newton because they think he was 'one of them'. But that is far from the case, I think. He was a genius and pioneer but also very much a man of his time and so viewed nature in a way that would be foreign to most of us. He also believed in a creator God who also sustains the universe (and redeems it).
     
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  6. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    And the - IMO unnecessary - fight between religion and science still goes on . . .
     
  7. Regiomontanus

    Regiomontanus retired astronomer

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    Newton would, no doubt, agree with us on that point. As with Kepler, uncovering nature's secrets was a spiritual endeavor. God is in the details.
     
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  8. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    What amazes me the most, is Newton´s rejection of Descartes´ "swirling patterns" in astronomy and cosmology. To me it is very strange that Newton, being a Natural Philosopher, missed the obviously and evidently fact that the Earth is rotating, thus following and obeying a "swirling pattern".
     
    #8 Native, Jan 10, 2021
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  9. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    He would, we hope, be contemptuous of our creationists, who typically reject and deny science in favor of their senseless readings.

    Weirdly, the creationists consider him one of theirs
     
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  10. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    Well, if the creationists focus on Newton´s religious perceptions, they´re right to do so.
     
  11. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Lots of people have religious perceptions
    but such don't have much utility in science.
     
  12. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    He rejected them because they didn't give the detailed explanations his own work did. The reason Newton's ideas were accepted is because they *worked*.

    Newton has been described as the first modern thinker and the last medieval thinker. He had some very good ideas (gravity, laws of motion, spectrum of light) and some very strange ones (his ideas about the book of David, for example).
     
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  13. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    To me THIS is a huge problem!
    What did Newton "first observed"? Was it an apple falling to the ground in a strait line on a planet which is revolving and thus inducing his "law of gravity" instead of deducting the logics of these two motions?
     
    #13 Native, Jan 10, 2021
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  14. Onoma

    Onoma Active Member

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    Interesting character for sure

    I've always wondered how science history would have gone had Newton had access to the same material that more modern academics like Neugebauer, Friberg, Hilprecht, etc, did

    My suspicion is that he would have had his mind blown
     
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  15. Regiomontanus

    Regiomontanus retired astronomer

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    Yes, my guess is that he would accept biological evolution, considering the evidence we have for it.
     
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  16. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    Correction: Newtons CALCULATIONS of celestial motion worked/works. But his *force* was simply induced on the insufficent observations of an falling apple on a revolving planet.
     
  17. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    He worked under tremendous handicaps,
    re access to basic research.
     
  18. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    Which was later fixed by Einstein.

    No, his laws of motion:

    1. A body at rest or in uniform motion will stay at rest or in that uniform motion unless acted upon by a force.

    2. The rate of change of the momentum of an object is equal in both magnitude and direction to the total force on the object.

    3. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Since the momentum is mass times velocity and mass is constant, we get F=ma from the second law.

    Newton's law of gravity is different than his laws of motion. it says that the force between two masses is directed along the line between the two masses, is attractive, proportional to the both the masses and to the inverse square of the distance between them.

    From these, it is possible to not only *deduce* Kepler's laws on the motions of the planets, but also deduce the *errors* in Kepler's laws because the other planets also produce a gravitational force.
     
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  19. Regiomontanus

    Regiomontanus retired astronomer

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    Sure but you can say that about anyone, at any point in history.
     
  20. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    No, that was NOT the whole thing. He also pointed out that the motion of the moon in its orbit could be explained by exactly the same force of gravity from the Earth. He also noted that Kepler's laws could be derived from his laws of motion and his law of gravity. He also showed how *corrections* to Kepler's laws could be found by taking into consideration the gravity from other planets.

    You assume that the first observation that got him thinking was the *only* piece of evidence he used or was interested in. Among other things, the discoveries of Galileo and Kepler were very important in his thinking.
     
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