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

Jeffrey Shoulson jshoulson at mail.as.miami.edu
Thu Sep 24 08:59:49 EDT 2009


For those of you not already familiar with it, Matt Goldish's,  
Judaism in the Theology of Sir Isaac Newton (1998), is a very fine  
piece of scholarship.  Matt worked closely with Dick Popkin, as well.


Jeffrey S. Shoulson, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of English and Judaic Studies
University of Miami
PO Box 248145
Coral Gables, FL 33124-4632

(o) 305-284-5596
(f) 305-284-5635

jshoulson at miami.edu
www.as.miami.edu/english/people/#jshoulson



On Sep 24, 2009, at 7:32 AM, Jameela Lares wrote:

> 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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