Newton: Philosophy of Inquiry and Metaphysics of Nature

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Stein, Howard
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On Newton’s view understanding of the fundamental character of anything can only come from knowledge about that thing, gained from experience, he sought experimental knowledge of light, for example, that would provide, not in the first instance support for a prior theory of its nature, but some systematic basis for further investigation--and--possibly--an eventual more fundamental theory. Among the things to hope for as results of an investigation is the discovery both of new questions that may be profitably pursued and new instrumentalities for conducting further investigations. In Newton’s account of the nature of body, lawsplay a central role; and it is regularities--laws of behavior--that he primarily sought in his study of phenomena. It is these that make the results of the investigations what I have called “systematic.”