Newton, Sir Isaac (encyclopedia article)

From Clockworks2
Jump to navigationJump to search

Westfall, Richard S. "Newton, Sir Isaac." Encyclopaedia Britannica: Macropaedia. 1974.

See this article, or a similar one[1]for the influence on Newton of R. Descartes "and the other mechanical philosophers" (17), combined with elements of Hermetic philosophy. Newton used "transpositions of the occult sympathies and antipathies of Hermetic philosophy . . . . as a modification of the mechanical philosophy that rendered it subject to exact mathematical treatment . . . [offering] a bridge to unite the two basic themes of 17th-century science—the mechanical tradition . . . and the Pythagorean tradition, which insisted on the mathematical nature of reality" (19). We will add that the Cartesian view cited by RSW "of nature as an intricate, impersonal, and inert machine" (17) was strengthened by Newton and add the concept of the microcosm: if "Man-the-Microcosm" by definition embodies in little the Macrocosm of the universe, then a mechanical universe implies mechanical humanity; if universe and humans are machines, the mediating terms of Society and State might be also—for a wholly mechanistic world where all is determined (or where Humanity, Society, and the State are machines that can be tinkered with: a revolutionary idea). See below in this Category, the entry for G. Wills. See also in this Category of the Wiki, R. Descartes[2]; T. Hobbes; D. Hofstadter; J. R. Munson and R. C. York.