The Composition of Space, Time and Matter According to Isaac Newton and John Keill

  • Carla Rita PalmerinoEmail author
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 282)


In his Mathematical Lectures, read at the University of Cambridge between 1664 and 1666, Isaac Barrow, Lucasian professor of mathematics, criticized “those who would have magnitude constituted of a finite number of indivisibles,” an opinion which he considered repugnant to the laws of mathematics. Barrow argued in favor of the infinite divisibility of all extended quantities, including material bodies:The young Newton, who was to become Barrow’s follower as Lucasian professor of mathematics, held a view diametrically opposed to that of his master. In the Quaestiones quaedam philosophicae, a set of notes redacted between 1664 and 1665 and contained in the Trinity College Notebook, he asserted that all extended magnitudes were composed out of a finite number of extended, but partless minima.


Physical Body Material Body Philosophical Question Physical Magnitude Infinite Divisibility 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the History of Philosophy and ScienceRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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