- Notes on Contributors
- Locke and His Influence
- Newton and Newtonianism in Eighteenth-Century British Thought
- The Idea of a Science of Human Nature
- Rhetoric and Eloquence: The Language of Persuasion
- Perception and The Language of Nature
- Language and Thought
- The Understanding
- Mind and Matter
- Passions, Affections, Sentiments: Taxonomy and Terminology
- Reason and the Passions
- Liberty and Necessity
- The Government of the Passions
- Self-Interest and Sociability
- Moral Judgment
- The Nature of Virtue
- Practical Ethics
- The Pleasures of the Imagination and the Objects of Taste
- The Faculty of Taste
- The Pleasures of Tragedy
- Genius and the Creative Imagination
- The Origin of Civil Government
- Forms of Government
- Reform and Revolution
- Luxury, Commerce, and the Rise of Political Economy
- Causation, Cosmology, and the Limits of Philosophy: the Early Eighteenth-Century British Debate
- Philosophy, Revealed Religion, and the Enlightenment
- Religion and Morality
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter describes various aspects of the impact on philosophy of Newton’s Principia. It shows how Newton’s achievement dramatically influenced debates over the way subsequent philosophers conceived of their activity, and thus prepared the way for an institutional and methodological split between philosophy and science. These large-scale themes are illustrated by attention to a number of detailed debates over the nature and importance of Newton’s legacy: debates concerning gravity and matter theory, the status of Newton’s “laws of motion”, the role of final causes in natural philosophy, and the interpretation of Newton’s “rules for the study of natural philosophy”. Important contributors to these debates included Hume, Colin Maclaurin, Priestley, and Reid. The chapter also includes discussion of how eighteenth-century philosophers (in particular Adam Smith) understood Newton’s place in the history of science.
Eric Schliesser is Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam and Visiting Professor of Philosophy & Moral Sciences at Ghent University. He is the editor (with Leonidas Montes) of New Voices on Adam Smith (Routledge, 2006), (with Andrew Janiak) of Interpreting Newton: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and (with Zvi Biener) Newton and Empiricis (Oxford University Press 2014). His monograph, Adam Smith: Systematic Philosopher and Public Thinker is in press with Oxford University Press. In addition to publishing on early modern philosophy and science he writes about the philosophy of economics.
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