What are the contributions of Newton to the Scientific Revolution?
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I think that one of Newton's most significant contributions to the Scientific Revolution was openly adopting a perspective that science and scientific inquiry underlies all aspects of consciousness. In doing so, Newton demonstrated a full appreciation of the Renaissance idea of going back and explicating works of antiquity with a scientific frame of reference. Newton's primary contributions were in the fields of physics and scientific inquiry. The idea of being unafraid to examine the world through a scientific frame of reference was one of Newton's lasting contributions to the Scientific Revolution, doing his part to enshrine science as a discipline that can help to provide meaning and purpose to one's existence. When Donne writes that the entire state of consciousness is placed "in doubt," Newton plays a direct role in this in the manner in which he was able to bring about scientific questioning, posing hypotheses, and validation through scientific inquiry to being in the world. Asserting a heliocentric theory of being, as well as a vision in which gravity dominates and governs all matter in motion, Newton was able to bring a more scientific presence to consciousness, one that almost moved science as a new form of the divine. It is here where the Scientific Revolution finds one of its greatest and most passionate advocates, making his contributions extremely vital and essential.
The above response, while eloquent, does not discuss specific contributions of Newton.
Among his significant contributions was his master work, the Principia Mathematica in which he stated
in the preceding books I have laid down the principles of philosophy (that is, science)….These principles are the laws of certain motions and powers or forces, which chiefly have respect in philosophy….It remains that from the same principles I now demonstrate the frame of the System of the World.
Newton's Principia, which comprised several volumes, was the first attempt to synthesize the principles of science. He is considered to be a founder of modern science, wherein theory and experimentation are combined.
Newton determined that mathematical laws would explain mechanics and motion, which included his theory of universal gravitation. The often repeated story of Newton's sitting under an apple tree is actually factual. Newton also determined that the earth was/is five and one half the density of water, He constructed the first reflecting telescope, and is the founder of calculus and theoretical physics.
Newton himself gave credit to Galileo, among others, for his work, famously commenting:
If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.
Alexander Pope poetically expressed Newton's accomplishments in a famous verse:
Nature and nature's laws were hid in night.
God said "Let Newton be." And there was Light.
Fittingly, upon his death Sir Isaac was given a state funeral, and buried in Westminster Abbey.
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