Lecture 2- The Power of a Name

Lecture 2- The Power of a Name - ThePowerofaName:...

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The Power of a Name: Newton and Newtonianism in the  Eighteenth Century  16:35 1) The “century of Newton”  Newton’s image  o 18 th  century = century of Newton (his name was invoked)  o justifying and arguing understanding and knowledge  o Labeled Newtonian as applied to an 18 th  century figure isn’t actually  always useful and illuminating, because so many people doing so many  different things shows Newton in so many different lights, WHAT IS  NEWTONIAN?  It doesn’t tell you anything specific! (calling someone Newtonian)  o However, it did carry a great sense of prestige (in sync with what Newton  was all about)  Initial reaction to Newton: the principia (1678) and Cartesianism o THE PRINCIPIA: laws of motion and collision, and inverse square law of  gravity  o This achievement makes him extremely “superhuman”  o Idea that somehow Newton was the one who had “drawn back the curtain”  and showed us what GOD’s creation was really all about  o Reflects the public admiration that Newton received.  o The mathematical and experimental correlation that Newton created, he  brought together these two areas of work and Kepler and Gallileo’s work  was brought together into a new idea  o Some people did not believe that Newton’s work was flawless (critics  particularly in continental Europe, France)  Criticism: the law of universal gravitation (inverse square law) seems to  fit the phenomena, however it didn’t provide any sort of EXPLANATION  of gravity, no natural philosophical understanding  Why is there no explanation? Just mathematical proof?  Mechanical explanation: there needs to be some sort of material  medium, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. How does gravity make 
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This note was uploaded on 09/30/2009 for the course STS 2821 taught by Professor Dear during the Spring '09 term at Cornell.

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Lecture 2- The Power of a Name - ThePowerofaName:...

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