• Peter Machamer is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science and Associate Director of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He has written on a number of seventeenth-century topics and is co-author with J. E. McGuire of Descartes's Changing Mind (Princeton University Press, 2009).

  • J. E. McGuire is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. McGuire has published numerous papers on early modern science and philosophy, many of which are collected in Tradition and Innovation: Newton's Metaphysics of Nature (Kluwer, 1995). Recently, he co-authored Descartes's Changing Mind with Peter Machamer (Princeton University Press, 2009) and is currently completing a book-length study of Aristotle's modal theories with James Bogen. In 2011, McGuire was awarded the Sarton Chair and medal at Ghent University, Belgium.

  • Hylarie Kochiras was a postdoctoral fellow during 2010–11 at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Philosophy of Science, and is currently a European Institutes for Advanced Study (EURIAS) Fellow at New Europe College in Bucharest. Her research focuses on Newton and early modern philosophy of science, and her publications include “Gravity and Newton's Substance Counting Problem” (Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 2009), “Locke's Philosophy of Science” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2009), and “Spiritual Presence and Dimensional Space beyond the Cosmos” (Intellectual History Review, 2012).


We argue that Isaac Newton really is best understood as being in the tradition of the Mechanical Philosophy and, further, that Newton saw himself as being in this tradition. But the tradition as Newton understands it is not that of Robert Boyle and many others, for whom the Mechanical Philosophy was defined by contact action and a corpuscularean theory of matter. Instead, as we argue in this paper, Newton interpreted and extended the Mechanical Philosophy's slogan “matter and motion” in reference to the long and distinguished tradition of mixed mathematics and the study of simple machines.