Friday, 14 September 2007
Newton , Neo-Platonism, and the Substantivalist Ontology of Space
Edward Slowik, Winona State University, Department of Philosophy
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: This presentation investigates Newton's theory of space in order to determine its commitment, if any, to a “substantivalist” ontology, i.e., an ontology that regards space as a form of substance or entity. A non-substantivalist interpretation of Newton's theory, which has been famously championed by Howard Stein and Robert DiSalle, among others, will be shown as problematic on various grounds. Nevertheless, our analysis will strive to reveal the unique or forward-looking aspects of Newton's approach, most notably, his critical assessment of substance ontologies, that help to distinguish his theory of space from his neo-Platonic contemporaries and predecessors.