Author

Joshua Riddle

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Andrei Gandila

Committee Member

Christine Sears

Committee Member

Stephen Waring

Subject(s)

Isaac Newton--1642-1727., Science--History., Religion and science--History.

Abstract

For several decades, scholars have argued about the relationship between Isaac Newton’s works in science (or natural philosophy), “chymistry,” religion, and theology. Of particular interest has been how his natural philosophy and religion/theology related to each other. Some scholars claim a significant connection between them, even claiming they are part of a “seamless unity” in Newton’s thinking. Other, more skeptical, scholars call for a localized approach to his writings. By entering into this debate and analyzing many of Newton’s manuscripts, I argue that Newton held onto significant disciplinary distinctions in his writings, but also was willing to make small connections between his natural philosophy, religion/theology, and “chymistry” on matters that largely related to his study of nature. While Newton may have had a unified vision in his mind, the manuscripts do not necessarily show this, and instead provide a strong case for Newton largely separating his works.

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