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The Janus Faces of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton's Thought (Paperback)
  • The Janus Faces of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton's Thought (Paperback)
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The Janus Faces of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton's Thought (Paperback)

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£36.99
Paperback 376 Pages / Published: 22/08/2002
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In this major re-evaluation of Isaac Newton's intellectual life, Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs shows how his pioneering work in mathematics, physics, and cosmology was intertwined with his study of alchemy. Directing attention to the religious ambience of the alchemical enterprise of early modern Europe, Dobbs argues that Newton understood alchemy - and the divine activity in micromatter to which it spoke - to be a much needed corrective to the overly mechanized system of Descartes. The same religious basis underlay the rest of his work. To Newton it seemed possible to obtain partial truths from many different approaches to knowledge, be it textual work aimed at the interpretation of prophecy, the study of ancient theology and philosophy, creative mathematics, or experiments with prisms, pendulums, vegetating minerals, light, or electricity. Newton's work was a constant attempt to bring these partial truths together, with the larger goal of restoring true natural philosophy and true religion.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521524872
Number of pages: 376
Weight: 550 g
Dimensions: 228 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Dobbs is always in complete control of the highly diverse strands of her argument. A splendid achievement." R. Palter, Choice
"...provides many interesting insights into Newton's way of working. It is clearly written." J.S. Joel, Mathematical Reviews
"...detailed and convincing..." William R. Shea
"In this outstanding book Dobbs has raised the understanding of Newton to a new level of sophistication. No superlative I have used overstates my estimate of the value of The Janus Faces of Genius." Richard Westfall, The Times Higher Education Supplement
"...tracks, more thoroughly than any single work previously has done, the constant recalibrations of Newton's efforts to synthesize all human knowledge so that history, theology, and science become reflexive confirmations of a mysterious order of the universe....its appeal should extend beyond historians of science. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the intellectual development of early modern history." Robert Markley, Configurations
"This is an important and stimulating book. The fruit of long and patient research, it offers a full account of Newton's varied intellectual interests and of the unity that links and shapes the diverse expressions of his quest for truth. Professor Dobbs builds skillfully upon the firm foundations of contemporary scholarship to forge a masterly account of Newton's vision, and to examine the cultural and individual imperatives that impelled his search for an ultimate understanding of the way things are. Dobb's study can be read with profit by specialist and nonspecialist alike." J.E. McGuire, American Journal of Physics
"Dobbs's achievement is to make the unity of Newton's many different studies, when viewed within the integrating framework of alchemy, not only evident but obvious; I know of no more thorough or learned treatment of her subject." Tracy Fessenden, History of Religions

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