Guest Post by Kees-Jan Schilt (University of Sussex): “Not fit to be Printed”. On the Reception of Newton’s Unorthodox Works

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About Sommer_HPS

Dr. Andreas Sommer, historian of the human sciences at Cambridge University, UK. View all posts by Sommer_HPS

2 responses to “Guest Post by Kees-Jan Schilt (University of Sussex): “Not fit to be Printed”. On the Reception of Newton’s Unorthodox Works

  • Giants’ Shoulders #65: The Wallace Edition | The Renaissance Mathematicus

    […] working together. Kees-Jan Schilt tells all about Newton’s dirty little secrets: “Not fit to be Printed”. On the Reception of Newton’s Unorthodox Works and to close out my personal choice for blog post of the month, True Anomalies tackles the tangled […]

  • Alan Borky

    Kees-Jan Andreas as a grammar schoolboy in the early Seventies I underwent culture shock as a result of attending sev’ral physics an’ chemistry classes an’ witnessin’ ev’ry boy continu’ly producin’ a wide range o’ wildly differing results. Finally I expressed aloud my distress this contradicted ev’rything I’d read in science books that where science was concerned same conditions always equalled same results an’ the physics teacher a flamboyant theatrical character with black hair an’ a red beard turned on me in front of ev’ryone an lisp’d “O ho! What’ve we here? We haven’t got a Hoom in our midst have we? You’re not a Hoom are you?” It was only durin’ the last decade I finally realised he’d meant Hume.

    At the same time an’ In contrast I underwent another kind o’ culture shock on watchin’ Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man where he said of Newton [if memory serves me] “I want you to grasp/understand just what sort of deeply desperate individual this man was” the implication being or so it seemed t’me Newton was some sort of psychotic maniac protected by the establishment even though it was clear Newton actually pursued things like his alchemical research very much on a testable scientific basis.

    Ditto John Dee before him who gets called a maniac precisely because he went out his way to actu’ly test these things.

    This’s what I find very excitin’ about history at the moment especially with the arisal of the internet because not only without it each generation’d ultimately have to reinvent the wheel for itself but there’s long been this bill of goods sold by certain historians who’ll remain nameless that history should be somethin’ akin to Simon Cowell’s approach t’music ie it should be manicured an’ cleaned up t’tell inane synethic narratives like How the West is Perfect How the East is Shite or How Capitalism is the Be All an’ End All How All Other Beliefs Systems Don’t Even Count.

    But thanks t’the internet we now have Beachcombing diggin’ out all the weird an’ nasty crap some people’d like to remain permanently lost down the back of History’s sofa not even claimin’ any of it’s true but showin’ very VERY clearly History’s about EVERYTHING an’ anything but neat an’ tidy.

    An’ now blessedly Andreas an’ y’self’re showin’ the supposed chaos an’ lack of scientific mindedness the likes of certain nameless psychologists like to make great play of t’distract anyone from noticin’ too much just how slimly scientific their own field an’ credentials are is actually a long an’ consistent history of brilliant original minds thinkin’ and actu’ly testin’ things outside the box before the box was even conceived.

    Kudos t’the lot of y’u I say!

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