Newton and Causes: Something Borrowed and Something New

  • Steffen DucheyneEmail author
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 29)


In the above quote, the Scottish Common Sense philosopher Dugald Stewart (1753–1823) seems to have put his the finger on an important asymmetry between mathematical versus natural-philosophical analysis and synthesis. If the line taken by Stewart is correct – and this is indeed what I shall argue for in what follows, then the view that Newton’s methodology, as spelled out in his well-known exposé on the Methods of Analysis and Synthesis in Query 31 of The Opticks, derives first and foremost from the mathematical tradition on analysis and synthesis becomes unsatisfactory. Furthermore, as a consequence, it needs to be shown for the historical record which traditions shaped Newton’s views on natural-philosophical analysis and synthesis.


Centripetal Force Natural Philosopher Mathematical Paper Universal Gravitation Mathematical Tradition 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Centre for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceBrusselsBelgium

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