[Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Thu Sep 24 07:32:23 EDT 2009


My memory of a conference on Newton I attended in 2000 at the Clark Library is no longer clear, but I remember the late great historian Richard Popkin (UCLA) saying that Newton's theological writings had been allowed to be scattered across the globe (a body of writings went up at auction or some such thing) even while his scientific writings were carefully preserved.  Only now was the theology being re-collected.  In the meantime, historians of science had been strategically silent about the theology; they wanted to present a different, scientific Newton.  No one at the conference disagreed that Newton's theological output exceeded the scientific, and just about everyone important seemed to be at the conference, including Rob Iliffe and Scott Mandlebrote of the Newton Project.  I remember Prof. Sarah Hutton, now at Aberysthwyth saying, "It turns out that Newton was a theologian who just happened to do maths."

I haven't seen every post on this thread--time constraints--but the Newton Project has a history of the papers, (http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/prism.php?id=24), which I expect bears out Popkin's assertion.

Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
601 266-4319 ofc
601 266-5757 fax
________________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of JD Fleming [jfleming at sfu.ca]
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 3:16 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)

Without disrespect to your former teacher, Horace, it seems to me that the answer you report amounts to the statement "Newton was really, really smart, and wanted to look into everything that he felt mattered." Which may be true; but leaves almost aside the question of why, to him and given his core intellectual concerns, Biblical exegesis _per se_ mattered. JDF

----- Original Message -----
From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 12:35:02 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)



And speaking of that devil Newton, here's what John Heilbron had to say about the man in a lecture on "Physics and History: Fractured in Modernity" (March 2008), in response to a question posed by a scientist who found incomprehensible that Newton would pour so much credulous energy into religious studies and who asked why Newton had done this sort of unbelievable work:



Well, I think Newton thought himself a prophet, and he took all knowledge as his sphere and was trying to recover what the ancients knew, and he felt that certain ancient texts required his particular study, mainly -- or among others -- the prophecies of Daniel, and he spent a lot of time trying to identify events subsequent to the prophecy that did occur with their prophetic description. That was part of his self-image. And to employ an analogy, from science you have the quantum Newton. You cannot have Newton the world-system builder, the mathematician -- the towering mathematician -- without Newton the prophet because they come together. They are responding to the same set of problems of the time in which he lived. And so for me, it's a puzzle indeed to think that a man had the energy to devote himself with such ferocity to so wide a range of subjects, but I'm not surprised at all that a mind as capacious as his would have wished, at that time, to undertake such studies. I!


  decline the terms of the question insofar as it implies that we could have had Newton of the Principia without Newton of the Prophecies of Daniel or the Ancient Kingdoms Amended .

I transcribed these words from the lecture and posted them on my blog this morning . . . along with a few other remarks, quotes, and links:


http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/2009/09/john-milton-and-isaac-newton-as.html


Jeffery Hodges



--- On Wed, 9/23/09, Nancy Charlton <nbcharlton at comcast.net> wrote:



From: Nancy Charlton <nbcharlton at comcast.net>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 1:43 PM


Speak of the devil! Here is a link from A Word A Day of a title page of the Principia:

http://wordsmith.org/words/images/imprimatur_large.jpg

Nancy Charlton

-----Inline Attachment Follows-----


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--
James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

"to see what is questionable"

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