Principia

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for ‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,’ often called the Principia, is a work in three books by Sir Isaac Newton, first published in 1687. The Principia states Newton’s laws of motion, forming the foundation of classical mechanics, also Newton’s law of universal gravitation, and a derivation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion (which Kepler first obtained empirically). The Principia is regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science.

In formulating his physical theories, Newton developed and used mathematical methods now included in the field of calculus. But the language of calculus as we know it was largely absent from the Principia. In a revised conclusion to the Principia (see General Scholium), Newton used his expression that became famous, Hypotheses non fingo (‘I contrive no hypotheses’). It was his answer to those who had publicly challenged him to give an explanation for the causes of gravity rather than just the mathematical principles of kinematics. Along with Occam’s Razor, the term can be seen as a departure from the Aristotelian hypothetic-deductive method of natural philosophy.

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