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01/26/2016

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Anthony

I came across this today while looking for works on the method of Newton's reasoning. It is a fascinating subject and the article is illuminating.

Newton seems to have inferred, and tested by many experiments, that certain constrained motions consisted of two components: an initial velocity; and a centripetal motion.

He seems to have been (or was) the first person to derive a mathematical statement of the centripetal motion. He found this was also true of the celestial motions observed by Kepler and Halley, and inferred it was true of any orbital motion.

I was astonished to find in Principia that Newton explicitly does not define a cause, seen in Definition 8. He says that "force" is only a mathematical statement of effect, and not an explanation of cause. Gravity is not a cause, but an effect, the cause of which is completely unknown.

The Axioms or Laws seem to play the role of a theory, which Newton demonstrates to be true of all known observations of motion. The real axioms come in Book III Rules of Philosophizing, because there is no reason to accept that celestial motion has the same "cause" unless you accept Rule 2: "Accordingly, to natural effects of the same kind, the same causes should be assigned, as far as possible". Otherwise the celestial motion could be an interesting coincidence.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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