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Newton’s action at a distance – Different views




Isaac Newton, action at a distance, gravity


Different authors have attempted to clarify the aspects of remote action and God's involvement on the basis of textual investigations, mainly from the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Newton's correspondence with Richard Bentley (1692/93), and Queries that Newton introduced at the end of the Opticks book in the first three editions (between 1704 and 1721). 

Author Biography

Nicolae Sfetcu, Romanian Academy

Researcher - Romanian Academy - Romanian Committee for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (CRIFST), History of Science Division (DIS)


Bentley, Richard. 1693. “A Confutation of Atheism from the Origin and Frame of the World. Part II a Sermon Preached at St. Martin’s in the Fields, November the 7th, 1692 : Being the Seventh of the Lecture Founded by the Honourable Robert Boyle ... / by Richard Bentley ...” 1693.

Ducheyne, Steffen. 2011. “Newton on Action at a Distance and the Cause of Gravity.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1): 154–59.

Henry, John. 2011. “Gravity and De Gravitatione: The Development of Newton’s Ideas on Action at a Distance.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1): 11–27.

Janiak, Andrew. 2008. “Newton as Philosopher.” Cambridge Core. July 2008.

Kochiras, Hylarie. 2009. “Gravity and Newton’s Substance Counting Problem.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (3): 267–80.

Newton, Isaac. 1952. Opticks, Or, A Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections & Colours of Light. Courier Corporation.

———. 1999. The Principia : Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Translated by I. Bernard Cohen, Anne Whitman, and Julia Budenz. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Schliesser, Eric. 2011. “Newton’s Substance Monism, Distant Action, and the Nature of Newton’s Empiricism: Discussion of H. Kochiras ‘Gravity and Newton’s Substance Counting Problem.’” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1): 160–66.