Levenson has attempted to read the Principia as literature
just like John Locke, who had to ask Christiaan Huygens if he could take the mathematical demonstrations on faith (Huygens said he could), I read to see what larger argument Newton was making about the ways human beings could now make sense of material experience.
This shows how much Newtonism has been successful in establishing itself as the true religion of humanity. The key word that I am looking at is “material.” The assumption that nature is matterful and forceful is the fundamental dogma of Newtonian religion. Physicists also successfully combined “matterful and forceful” with the word physical. This way Newtonism is encoded into our language and into our minds.
Newton got the news that the world was material from the Christian god. He boldly asserted that he knew that god created a material and Newtonian world. I guess that would make Newton a prophet. And the poetry that opens the Principia establishes the special relationship that Newton enjoyed with the Christian God who is said to have invited Newton and Halley to a banquet to honor their great scientific frauds.
From Levenson’s use of the word material without realising that it is a code word for Newtonism I conclude that human beings in general perceive nature as a Newtonian and physical place. In the European middle ages a similar intellectual would have perceived nature as a Christian place modelled by Dante.
What makes Newtonism a religion is the fact that human individuals do not realize that they’ve been indoctrinated with the British-Newtonian-Occult definition of nature and that they perceive nature as a British-Newtonian-Occult system.
Am I maybe reading too much into one incidental word that Levenson used?
I read to see what larger argument Newton was making about the ways human beings could now make sense of experience.
Without the word material the quote becomes ambiguous. It seems that we need to explain what kind of experience we are talking about.
- their natural experience
- their earthly experience
- their daily experience
- their Newtonian experience
I guess all of these are possible. But the point is that for Newton’s contemporaries nature was not a Newtonian experience. We are so indoctrinated with Newtonism that we no longer remember the pre-Newtonian non-Newtonian nature. Huygens who apparently certified the legitimacy of Newton’s proofs to Lock believed that Newton was guilty of reintroducing into science old scholastic dormitive virtues and active souls by calling them force. Huygens correctly identified that Newton meant force to be Newton’s Soul permeating the universe.
Others, including Leibniz and Berkeley, imagined a relational nature without matter.
Of course, in Europe cosmology has always been mixed with politics. In Newton’s time Cartesian plenum was the official model of the cosmos. Newton proposed to replace the French plenum with the British void. No wonder that the perpetual enemy of the British resisted Newtonian cosmos for about a century before Laplace and Coulomb developed the French version of Newtonism palatable to the French Academie. Eventually this British creed became the official cosmology of every European state and effectively replaced Christianity as the state religion. In other words, the British succeeded in unifying the European science under their own brand.
Newtonism even crossed the Atlantic in stealth mode. Founding fathers rejected the old British political institutions but they did not realize that Newtonism was the colonialism of the mind. They kicked out the British political colonialist but embraced with open arms the British colonialist of the mind.
What I mean is that Newtonian material and forceful occult view of nature was established by propaganda and very sophisticated marketing by the British as the official worldview of humanity and it is still enforced as such by states and governments all over the world. This is where we are today. And physicists as Newtonian faithful teach, polish and perpetuate Newtonism.
Regardless of what physicists say, Newtonism is still taught as absolute truth in introductory physics. The mantra that General Relativity subsumed Newtonism only helps strengthen Newtonian mythology. After all, every physics student believes that he has witnessed Newton’s Soul to set a pendulum in motion in a Cavendish lab.