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date: 21 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter challenges the traditional origin story of rational, or “classical Newtonian,” mechanics, which holds that Isaac Newton created the core foundations of this science in his Principia Mathematica, and then delivered them to Continental European mathematicians, who translated and developed them in creating modern analytical mechanics. Instead, the article outlines the dispersed origins of calculus-based mathematical physics in Europe around 1700, locating its sources in Newton’s work, but also, and more importantly, in the work of many others as well. Overall, the chapter traces a Continental origin for what we now, perhaps erroneously, call “classical Newtonian mechanics” rooted in many developments, especially in France, that were contrary to Newton’s own thinking on this topic.

Keywords: mathematical physicscalculus, analytical mechanics, Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica, “Newtonian”

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