Henry More’s “Spirit of Nature” and Newton’s Aether

Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 38 (3):337-358 (2016)
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The paper presents the notion of “Spirit of Nature” in Henry More and describes its position within More’s philosophical system. Through a thorough analysis, it tries to show in what respects it can be considered a scientific object and in what respects it cannot. In the second part of this paper, More’s “Spirit of Nature” is compared to Newton’s various attempts at presenting a metaphysical cause of the force of gravity, using the similarities between the two to see this notorious problem of Newton scholarship in a new light. One thus sees that if Newton drew from Stoic and Neo-Platonic theories of aether or soul of the world, we need to fully acknowledge the fact that these substances were traditionally of a non-dualistic, half-corporeal, half-spiritual nature. Both More’s “Spirit of Nature” and Newton’s aether can thus be understood as different attempts at incorporating such a pneumatic theory into the framework of modern physics, as it was then being formed.


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