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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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Le Grand Newton

Le Grand Newton

(p.255) Chapter Thirty-One Le Grand Newton
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter focusses on the philosophy of Sir Isaac Newton. By the end of the eighteenth century, Newton was revered on the Continent as an icon of human rationality: the supreme representative of a way of thinking that could replace the old superstitions of religion. These Continental admirers of Newton represented the first concerted philosophical attempt to use science against religion since the Epicurean philosophers of Greece and Rome. Their approach was a reverse image of Newton’s British followers, who found a confirmation of divine order in Sir Isaac’s theories in much the same way that Plato had found a confirmation of the rationality of the universe in the theories of Eudoxos of Cnidus. This latter perspective was closer to Newton’s own view.

Keywords:   Sir Isaac Newton, religion, science, human rationality, philosophy

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