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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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The Beautiful System

The Beautiful System

(p.265) Chapter Thirty-Two The Beautiful System
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter focusses on Sir Isaac Newton’s views about science and theology. His writings demonstrate that he saw his physical studies as having the same motivation as his theological ones. The publication of the second edition of Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy enabled Newton not only to extend the description of universal gravitation with the benefit of new data, but also to locate his account within a wider theological context. In a ‘General Scholium’, printed at the end of the third book, he writes, ‘This most beautiful system of the Sun and Planets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being’.

Keywords:   Sir Isaac Newton, philosophy, religion, theology, science, Principia

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