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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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Erudition and Chronology in Seventeenth-Century England

Erudition and Chronology in Seventeenth-Century England

(p.107) 3 Erudition and Chronology in Seventeenth-Century England
Newton and the Origin of Civilization

Jed Z. Buchwald

Mordechai Feingold

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the seventeenth-century English background within which Isaac Newton’s refiguring of Biblical and classical antiquity took shape. Only once did Newton address his chronological studies in public. Angered by the unauthorized 1725 French translation of the abstract of his Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, he lashed out at the Venetian abbé Antonio Conti—the “friend” who had “betrayed” Newton’s confidence—and then proceeded to downplay the nature and extent of his interests. However, for Newton chronology was anything but a diversion; indeed, the lion’s share of his investigations was carried out after his move to London in 1696. That Newton sought to portray his chronological studies as the dabbling of a weary mind partly reflects what he understood to be the relatively low status accorded chronology in the pyramid of learning.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, chronology, learning, seventeenth century, Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, chronological studies

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