‘s Gravesande's Appropriation of Newton's Natural Philosophy, Part I: Epistemological and Theological Issues



In this essay I reassess Willem Jacob ‘s Gravesande's Newtonianism. I draw attention to ‘s Gravesande's a-causal rendering of physics which went against Newton's causal understanding of natural philosophy and to his attempt to establish a solid foundation for the certainty of Newton's natural philosophy, which he considered as a powerful antidote against the theological aberrations of Descartes and especially Spinoza. I argue that, although ‘s Gravesande clearly took inspiration from Newton's natural philosophy, he was running his own scientific and intellectual agenda and that he was combining Newtonian and non-Newtonian elements.