Isaac Newton and Natural Philosophy

Reaktion Books
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Isaac Newton is one of the greatest scientists in history, yet the spectrum of his interests was much broader than that of most contemporary scientists. In fact, Newton would have defined himself not as a scientist, but as a natural philosopher. He was deeply involved in alchemical, religious, and biblical studies, and in the later part of his life he played a prominent role in British politics, economics, and the promotion of scientific research. Newton’s pivotal work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which sets out his laws of universal gravitation and motion, is regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science.

Niccolò Guicciardini’s enlightening biography offers an accessible introduction both to Newton’s celebrated research in mathematics, optics, mechanics, and astronomy and to how Newton viewed these scientific fields in relation to his quest for the deepest secrets of the universe, matter theory and religion. Guicciardini sets Newton the natural philosopher in the troubled context of the religious and political debates ongoing during Newton’s life, a life spanning the English Civil Wars, the Restoration, the Glorious Revolution, and the Hanoverian succession. Incorporating the latest Newtonian scholarship, this fast-paced biography broadens our perception of both this iconic figure and the great scientific revolution of the early modern period.
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About the author

Niccolò Guicciardini teaches history of science at the University of Bergamo, Italy. He is the author of Reading the Principia: The Debate on Newton’s Mathematical Methods for Natural Philosophy from 1687 to 1736 and Isaac Newton on Mathematical Certainty and Method.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Reaktion Books
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Published on
Feb 15, 2018
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781780239484
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / Social Scientists & Psychologists
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Riveting."—The New York Times

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Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing?

Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane. Much more commonly, they are linked to sensory deprivation, intoxication, illness, or injury. People with migraines may see shimmering arcs of light or tiny, Lilliputian figures of animals and people. People with failing eyesight, paradoxically, may become immersed in a hallucinatory visual world. Hallucinations can be brought on by a simple fever or even the act of waking or falling asleep, when people have visions ranging from luminous blobs of color to beautifully detailed faces or terrifying ogres. Those who are bereaved may receive comforting “visits” from the departed. In some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or even the feeling of leaving one’s own body.

Humans have always sought such life-changing visions, and for thousands of years have used hallucinogenic compounds to achieve them. As a young doctor in California in the 1960s, Oliver Sacks had both a personal and a professional interest in psychedelics. These, along with his early migraine experiences, launched a lifelong investigation into the varieties of hallucinatory experience.

Here, with his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr. Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition. 
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