Masterclass on Isaac Newton’s Philosophical Projects

Poster - longDate: 6-10 October 2015

Place: Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Bucharest

Invited speakers: Rob Iliffe (Sussex), Niccolo Guicciardini (Bergamo), Andrew Janiak (Duke University) 

Organizers: Dana Jalobeanu, Kirsten Walsh

The purpose of this master-class is to discuss and to set in context some of Newton’s philosophical, scientific and theological projects. It aims to address a number of well-known (and difficult) questions in a new context, by setting them comparatively against the natural philosophical and theological background of early modern thought. By bringing together a group of experts on various aspects of Newton’s thought with experts on Descartes, Bacon and Leibniz, the master-class facilitates interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary perspectives.

The activities of the master-class will consist of lectures, reading groups and seminars, as well as more informal activities (tutorials, and discussions). The master-class will be set within the interdisciplinary environment of the Institute of Research in the Humanities, University of Bucharest.


Yannick Van den Abbeel, (Free University, Brussels), Ovidiu Babes (University of Bucharest), Ilinca Damian (University of Bucharest), Michael Deckard (Lenoir-Rhyne University/University of Bucharest), Mihnea Dobre (University of Bucharest), Daria Drozdova (HSE School of Philosophy, Moscow), Johnatan Ettel (Stanford University), Ildikó Erdei (PhD student, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Hungary), Britany French (Simon Fraser University), Erdmann Georg, (Ruhr-University Bochum), Larisa Gogianu (University of Bucharest), Remus Manoila (University of Bucharest) Marco Storni (ENS, Paris), Grigore Vida (University of Bucharest), Gabor A. Zemplen (Budapest University of Technology).


Monday Oct. 5

20.00 Dinner at Bistro La Taifas (Strada Gheorghe Manu)

Tue Oct. 6

These events will be held at Casa Universitarilor (Dionisie Lupu 46)

17.30 Opening address

18.00 Rob Iliffe, Newton, providence and the nature of miracles.

20.00 Reception

Wed Oct 7: Principles, laws of nature and miracles

At the Institute for Research in the Humanities (Dimitrie Brandza 1)

Reading group (10-12): Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence (1)

Lunch break

Reading group (14-15.30): Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence (2)

Coffee break

Talk (16-17:40): Mihnea Dobre, Baconianism, Cartesianism, and Newtonianism. Jacques Rohault’s Treatise on Physics and Samuel Clarke’s Newtonian annotations.

At the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest (Splaiul Independentei 204, Room Titu Maiorescu).

Talk (18-20) CELFIS talk: Rob Iliffe, The Newton Project as a solution to the problem of intellectual coherence.

20.00 Dinner at Siegfried Beerhouse (Soseaua Orhideelor 19)

Thur Oct. 8 Hypotheses: metaphysical, physical and methodological

At the Institute for Research in the Humanities (Dimitrie Brandza 1)

Talk (11.30-13.30): Kirsten Walsh, Are Newton’s queries hypotheses?

Lunch break

Optional: IRH Fellows Lunchtime seminar (13.30-15): Andrew Janiak, Presentation of the Project VOX

Reading group (16-18): Hypothesis on Light, Optical queries

Talk (18-20): Dana Jalobeanu, Types of hypotheses in Newton’s queries: a Baconian inheritance?

20:00 Dinner at Derby Pub (Bulevardul Eroii Sanitari 49A)

Fri Oct 9 Approximations, abstractions and generalizations:

mathematics and natural philosophy

At the Institute for Research in the Humanities (Dimitrie Brandza 1)

Talk (9-11): Niccolo Guicciardini, Newton’s conceptions on mathematical method: an overview from his early years to the polemic with Leibniz.

Reading group (11-13): Newton’s statements on mathematical method, mostly from his mathematical writings edited by Whiteside.

Lunch break

Talks (16-19)

Yannick Van den Abbeel (PhD student, Free Uni, Brussels), Newton’s philosophy of mathematics and the distinction between the mathematical and physical in the Principia

Erdmann Georg (Ruhr-University Bochum), Is there a Galilean invariance in the Principia? About tensions in the methodology of Newton’s mechanics

Gabor A. Zemplen (Budapest University of technology), Physical and pictorial demonstration of the corpuscularity of light

20:00 Dinner (t.b.a.)

Saturday Oct 10: Rules of reasoning and rules of interpretation:

natural philosophical methods and biblical hermeneutics

At the Institute for Research in the Humanities (Dimitrie Brandza 1)

Talk (9-11): Andrew Janiak, Newton’s understanding of Scriptural interpretation as it developed during the 1680s and influenced at least one famous passage in the first edition of the Principia.

Reading group (11-13:30): Principia (Scholium to the definitions, Rules of reasoning and General Scholium), Newton’s correspondence with Burnet.

Lunch break

(15-16): Wrap up session.

20:00 Dinner (t.b.a.)