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Force and Geometry in Newton"s "Principia"

by Francois De Gandt Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 312 pages
AU$269.00 NZ$274.78
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In this book Fran├žois De Gandt introduces us to the reading of Newton's Principia in its own terms. The path of access that De Gandt proposes leads through the study of the geometrization of force. The result is a highly original meditation on the sources and meaning of Newton's magnum opus.

In Chapter I De Gandt presents a translation of and detailed commentary on an earlier and simpler version of what in 1687 became Book I of the Principia; here in clearer and starker outline than in the final version, the basic principles of Newton's dynamics show forth. Chapter II places this dynamics in the intellectual context of earlier efforts--the first seeds of celestial dynamics in Kepler, Galileo's theory of accelerated motion, and Huygens's quantification of centrifugal force--and evaluates Newton's debt to these thinkers. Chapter III is a study of the mathematical tools used by Newton and their intellectual antecedents in the works of Galileo, Torricelli, Barrow, and other seventeenth-century mathematicians. The conclusion discusses the new status of force and cause in the science that emerges from Newton's Principia.

Originally published in 1995.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Translator's Introduction
Conventions and Abbreviations
Ch. IThe De motu of 168410
The Elements of Newton's Solution10
Ch. IIAspects of Force before the Principia58
The Diffusion of the Solar Virtue: Kepler and the Calculation of Forces63
Weight and Acceleration: Force and Time in the Galilean Tradition85
Gravity and Centrifugal Force: The Analysis of Effort in the Cartesian Tradition117
Newton and Circular Motion before the Principia139
Ch. IIIThe Mathematical Methods159
Indivisibles or Ultimate Ratios?159
The Methods of Indivisibles168
Motion in Geometry: The Kinematics of Curves and the Method of Fluxions202
The Methods of the Principia (1): Ultimate Ratios and Finite Witnesses221
The Methods of the Principia (2): The Inverse Problem and the Emergence of a New Style244

"De Gandt's book ... is a lucid and historically grounded essay devoted to Newton's mathematization of central forces."--Centaurus