Newton's Philosophy of Nature: Selections from His Writings

By H. S. Thayer; Isaac Newton | Go to book overview
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I. The Method of Natural Philosophya

1. RULES OF REASONING IN PHILOSOPHYb

RULE I

We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.

To this purpose the philosophers say that Nature does nothing in vain, and more is in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.


RULE II

Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.

As to respiration in a man and in a beast, the descent of stones in Europe and in America, the light of our culinary fire and of the sun, the reflection of light in the earth and in the planets.


RULE III

The qualities of bodies, which admit neither intensification nor remission of degrees, and which are found to belong to all bodies within the reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of all bodies whatsoever.

For since the qualities of bodies are only known to us by experiments, we are to hold for universal all such as universally agree with experiments, and such as are not liable to diminution can never be quite taken away. We are certainly not to relinquish the

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a
[Also on method, see the latter parts of Queries 28 and 29, in the Questions from the Optics, Part V.]
b
[Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Bk. III, 1686.]

-3-

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