Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Newton and Proclus on the Geometry of Absolute Space
Mary Domski, Visiting Fellow
University of New Mexico
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
::: photos & more
Abstract: I aim to clarify the account of space that Newton presents in the pre-Principia text, De Gravitatione (‘On the Gravity and Equilibrium of Fluids’), by putting Newton’s remarks into conversation with the account of space found in Proclus’s commentary on Euclid’s Elements. What I highlight is that both Newton and Proclus ground their mathematical treatment of real space on a metaphysical picture according to which the mathematically intelligible is part and parcel of the general natural order. Newton’s commitment to this mathematical order of nature helps clarify the process of abstraction on which his De Gravitatione treatment of space relies, and also grants us important insight into the philosophical grounding for the notion of absolute space that is presented in the Principia.