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date: 13 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the historical context of Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Principia) and how it reoriented natural philosophy for generations. It first considers how the Principia extends and refines the ideas of De Motu, taking into account the three Laws of Motion, the force responsible for the planetary trajectories, the motion of projectiles in a resisting medium, and the law of universal gravitation. It then discusses three changes that influenced fundamentally the content and reception of the Principia: the relabelling and rewording of nine ‘hypotheses’ (into ‘phenomena’ and ‘rules of reasoning’) at the start of Book 3; the addition of the General Scholium; and changes that minimized explicit commitments to atomism. It also assesses the impact of the Principia on the development of physics and concludes with an overview of Newton’s theory about the cause of gravity

Keywords: Isaac Newton, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, natural philosophy, Principia, gravity, De Motu, Laws of Motion, law of universal gravitation, atomism, physics

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