Skip main navigation

Newton on the use of hypotheses

Newton on rejecting hypotheses in experimental philosophy
Isaac Newton
© by Godfrey Kneller. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Read the following text in which Isaac Newton exposes his conception about the uses of hypotheses in experimental philosophy. Your comprehension will be tested in the following step.

I have not yet been able to deduce from phenomena the reason for these properties of gravity, and I do not feign hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this experimental philosophy, propositions are deduced from the phenomena, and are made general by induction. The impenetrability, mobility, and the impetus of bodies, and the laws of motion and the law of gravity have been found by this method. And it is enough that gravity really exists and acts according to the laws that we have set forth and is sufficient to explain all the motions of the heavenly bodies and of our sea.

Isaac Newton, General Scholium, in Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, University of California Press, p. 589.

© University of Groningen
This article is from the free online

The Scientific Revolution: Understanding the Roots of Modern Science

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now