Article ID: CBB389180363

Early Modern Mathematics in a Letter: Adriaen Verwer to David Gregory on Mathematics and Natural Philosophy (2017)


This paper argues that the Dutch Menonnite merchant Adriaen Verwer (1654-1717) found an example of a new mathematical method in Newton’s Principia that enabled him to counter mathematical philosophical arguments of Spinoza. The argument is based partly on a hitherto unpublished letter that Verwer wrote to the Scottish Newtonian mathematician David Gregory (1659-1708) and that is edited in the appendix. This letter sheds light on the idea of ‘usefulness’ of the Principia’s mathematical philosophy, as experienced by a Dutch group of Newtonian popularisers. The group, including Verwer, used Newton to vindicate the mathematical method from Spinozist rationalism. The argument also draws on Verwer’s own publications, his further correspondence with Gregory and his annotations in the first edition of Newton’s Principia.

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Authors & Contributors
Guicciardini, Niccolò
Reeves, Eileen A.
Stroup, Alice
Cook, Alan H.
Friesen, John
Hoskin, Michael A.
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
British Journal for the History of Mathematics
History of Science
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
Princeton University
Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura
Natural philosophy
Correspondence and corresponding
Science and religion
Newton, Isaac
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Gregory, David
Descartes, René
Pitcairne, Archibald
Stukeley, William
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
16th century
Early modern
19th century
Great Britain
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
Royal Society of London
Académie des Sciences, Paris

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