This chapter considers the roots of Isaac Newton’s interest in natural and historical knowledge. In the late seventeenth century, experiment-based knowledge remained suspect. Technical chronologers developed systems of concordances and sequences that located events of human history in time by means of their simultaneous occurrences with particular astronomical events, usually eclipses. It is precisely here that Isaac Newton, as a chronologer, differed programatically from his predecessors: he sought to use astronomical tools to mold singular events into a system for understanding ancient history, indeed for grasping the entire development of civilization—what’s more, a system that shared and exemplified the same evidentiary and argumentative structure deployed in his science.
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