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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Isaac Newton's "Principia Mathematica"

On 5 July 1687, Issac Newton published Principia Mathematica, one of the most important books in history of science (and also philosophy):

Title page of Principia, first edition (1686/1687)
Here is an excerpt from the preface of the Principia Mathematica:

"We offer this work as the mathematical principles of philosophy; for all the difficulty of philosophy seems to consist in this--from the phenomena of motions to investigate the forces of nature, and then from these forces to demonstrate the other phenomena; and to this end the general propositions in the first and second book are directed. In the third book we give an example of this in the explication of the System of the World; for by the propositions mathematically demonstrated in the former books, we in the third derive from the celestial phenomena the forces of gravity with which bodies tend to the sun and the several planets. Then from these forces, by other propositions which are also mathematical, we deduce the motions of the planets, the comets, the moon, and the sea. I wish we could derive the rest of the phenomena of nature by the same kind of reasoning from mechanical principles; for I am induced by many reasons to suspect that they may all depend upon certain forces by which the particles of bodies, by some causes hitherto unknown, are either mutually impelled towards each other, and cohere in regular figures, or are repelled and recede from each other; which forces being unknown, philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of nature in vain; but I hope the principles her laid down will afford some light either to this or some truer method of philosophy..." 

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