NEWTON: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Prefaces, Definitions, Axioms, General Scholium]

Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy was first published in 1687. Two subsequent editions with emendations were published in 1713 and 1726. In the text, Newton lays the foundations for what would be known in the future as classical mechanics – a technical term that simply indicates the study of the behavior of macroscopic bodies when acted upon by forces. Continue reading NEWTON: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Prefaces, Definitions, Axioms, General Scholium]

BACON: Novum Organum [Preface, Book I]

Francis Bacon wrote and published Novum Organum in 1620. The subject of the work is the method by which one ought to seek truth. According to Bacon, men ought to begin with observations – i.e. the senses – and then move incrementally from intermediate axioms to the most general axioms. This process is called induction, which is the method employed by modern science. For example, a man observes that all cats that he has encountered have tails. He concludes that it is highly probable that all cats have tails. The contrary method is called deduction. The process of deduction is when general principles are proposed and then used to assert particular truths. For example, all cats have a tail. X is a cat. X has a tail. To summarize the difference between the two methodologies, induction begins with particulars and moves to generalities while deduction begins with generalities and moves to particulars. Continue reading BACON: Novum Organum [Preface, Book I]

GALILEO: Two New Sciences [Third Day, through Scholium of Theorem II]

Galileo’s Two New Sciences is a scientific treatise published in 1638. The Third Day section through the Scholium of Theorem II is concerned with the constant speed of physical bodies and the uniform acceleration of falling bodies. Continue reading GALILEO: Two New Sciences [Third Day, through Scholium of Theorem II]

MONTAIGNE: Apology for Raymond de Sebonde

In the Apology for Raymond de Sebonde, Montaigne writes a long treatise supporting the religious arguments of Raymond de Sebonde. Montaigne does not analyze the specific arguments Sebonde presents to counter the arguments of atheists, but rather he presents his own evidence for justifying a radical skepticism toward all knowledge except knowledge obtained directly from the divine. Continue reading MONTAIGNE: Apology for Raymond de Sebonde

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 16-17, 84-88]

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I last read from Aquinas’ Summa Theologica in May of 2014. As I stated in my previous post, I enjoy reading the works of Aquinas. His writing style is concise and logical. He begins by asking a question, then he proposes several possible answers, and finally he forms his own conclusion and provides counterarguments to each of the other answers that he considered. Other philosophical writers, such as Kant, present their arguments in a convoluted fashion, which frustrates the reader rather than elucidates the concepts that the writer wishes to convey. Aquinas’s writing style does not suffer any of these defects. It allows the reader to easily comprehend the arguments and form conclusions of his own. Continue reading ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 16-17, 84-88]