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Newton and the Origin of Civilization$
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Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154787.001.0001

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Newton and the Origin of Civilization

Jed Z. Buchwald

Mordechai Feingold

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how Isaac Newton’s emerging attitudes toward perception, and the very process of measurement itself, were different from those of his contemporaries. It discusses the Hooke–Hevelius controversy. In 1673, Hevelius published the first part of his Machinae coelestis, which provided verbal descriptions and elaborate plates of the naked-eye devices that he had constructed for determining stellar coordinates. The very next year Hooke took umbrage at the publication and attacked it in print in a series of Animadversions. Hooke was not only certain that naked-eye observations could not possibly match those performed with a telescope equipped with cross-hairs, and had urged Hevelius to adopt the new apparatus. Hevelius nevertheless published the Machinae, and Hooke was incensed. The chapter also details Huygens’ and Boyle’s attitudes toward perception and measurement.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, perception, measurement, Robert Hooke, Johannes Hevelius, Hooke–Hevelius controversy

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