From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Newtonianism is a doctrine that involves following the principles and using the methods of natural philosopher Isaac Newton. While Newton's influential contributions were primarily in physics and mathematics, his broad conception of the universe as being governed by rational and understandable laws laid the foundation for many strands of Enlightenment thought. Newtonianism became an enormously influential intellectual program that applied Newton's principles in many avenues of inquiry, laying the groundwork for modern science (both the natural and social sciences), in addition to influencing philosophy, political thought and theology.

In 1737 Francesco Algarotti, an Italian scientist essayist and member of the Royal Society made Newtonianism popular with his book "Newtonianism for ladies".

Newtonian doctrine can be contrasted with several alternative sets of principles and methods such as Cartesianism, Leibnizianism and Wolffianism.[1][2]

As examples of his far-flung influence, David Hume, for one, was keen to make use of Newtonian experimental principles in the examination of moral subjects, while Colin Maclaurin wrote an MA thesis on the application of the calculus in morality. The religious philosophy Deism is strongly Newtonian.


  1. ^ The Discovery of the Conservation of Energy, Yehuda Elkana, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974; Introduction: Philosophical Background pp. 1-22
  2. ^ "The Newtonian-Wolffian Controversy: 1740-1759, Ronald S. Calinger, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1969), pp. 319-330". Retrieved 2008-03-26.