Newton, the Parts of Space, and the Holism of Spatial Ontology

Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (2):249-272 (2011)
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This article investigates the problem of the identity of the parts of space in Newton’s natural philosophy, as well as the holistic or structuralist nature of Newton’s ontology of space. Additionally, this article relates the lessons reached in this historical and philosophical investigation to analogous debates in contemporary space-time ontology. While previous contributions, by Nerlich, Huggett, and others, have proven to be informative in evaluating Newton’s claims, it will be argued that the underlying goals of Newton’s views have largely eluded prior analysis and that Newton’s approach is similar, and lends support, to several current structuralist trends in the conception of space-time ontology.

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Edward Slowik
Winona State University


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