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SR-38-Newton & God - slate ‘ tabula rasa ’ all...

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Newton and Newton’s God; Science and the Enlightenment Newton’s focus on God as Creator and Lord is reflected in ‘General Scholium’ to 1713 edition of Principia . British tradition of natural theology : we can know God by studying nature; argument from design . Newton argued that order of the planetary system must be a product of intelligent choice, not blind necessity; its underlying cause must be ‘not blind and fortuitous, but very skilled in Mechanicks and Geometry.’ Downplayed deviations from neat order of the planetary system (e.g., paths of comets). John Locke (English, 1632–1704) became Newton’s friend in 1690s; sought to apply Newton’s analytical empiricism to human mind and society. In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Locke said the mind begins as a blank
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Unformatted text preview: slate ( ‘ tabula rasa ’ ); all of our ideas are acquired by experience; knowledge is thus always open-ended and subject to revision. Locke’s views promoted Enlightenment faith in progress. Find the natural laws governing the human world, redesign institutions to take those laws into account, and society will run smoothly and well. Lockean ideas are reflected in the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution. The French philosophe Voltaire (1694–1778) promoted Newtonianism for what he saw as its positive philosophical and political implications: free inquiry, banishment of ‘superstition.’ Wrote Philosophical Letters (1734), Elements of Newton’s Philosophy (1738); worked closely with É milie du Châtelet (1706–49), who later translated Principia into French....
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