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The Principia : mathematical principles of natural philosophy
Newton, Isaac, 1642-1727.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Principia. English
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvii, 974 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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QA803 .N413 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In his monumental 1687 work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica , known familiarly as the Principia , Isaac Newton laid out in mathematical terms the principles of time, force, and motion that have guided the development of modern physical science. Even after more than three centuries and the revolutions of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, Newtonian physics continues to account for many of the phenomena of the observed world, and Newtonian celestial dynamics is used to determine the orbits of our space vehicles.

This completely new translation, the first in 270 years, is based on the third (1726) edition, the final revised version approved by Newton; it includes extracts from the earlier editions, corrects errors found in earlier versions, and replaces archaic English with contemporary prose and up-to-date mathematical forms.

Newton's principles describe acceleration, deceleration, and inertial movement; fluid dynamics; and the motions of the earth, moon, planets, and comets. A great work in itself, the Principia also revolutionized the methods of scientific investigation. It set forth the fundamental three laws of motion and the law of universal gravity, the physical principles that account for the Copernican system of the world as emended by Kepler, thus effectively ending controversy concerning the Copernican planetary system.

The illuminating Guide to the Principia by I. Bernard Cohen, along with his and Anne Whitman's translation, will make this preeminent work truly accessible for today's scientists, scholars, and students.

Author Notes

Born at Woolsthorpe, England, Sir Isaac Newton was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he graduated in 1665. During the plague of 1666, he remained at Woolsthorpe, during which time he formulated his theory of fluxions (the infinitesimal calculus) and the main outlines of his theories of mechanics, astronomy, and optics, including the theory of universal gravitation. The results of his researches were not circulated until 1669, but when he returned to Trinity in 1667, he was immediately appointed to succeed his teacher as professor of mathematics.

His greatest work, the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, was published in 1687 to immediate and universal acclaim. Newton was elected to Parliament in 1689. In 1699, he was appointed head of the royal mint, and four years later he was elected president of the Royal Society; both positions he held until his death. In later life, Newton devoted his main intellectual energies to theological speculation and alchemical experiments. In April 1705, Queen Anne knighted Newton during a royal visit to Trinity College, Cambridge. He was only the second scientist to have been awarded knighthood. Newton died in his sleep in London on March 31, 1727, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Because of his scientific nature, Newton's religious beliefs were never wholly known. His study of the laws of motion and universal gravitation became his best-known discoveries, but after much examination he admitted that, "Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done." (Bowker Author Biography)

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Library Journal Review

The publisher claims that this is the first new translation of Newton from the Latin in 270 years! This text is based on the 1726 third edition, which was the final version corrected by Newton. This reprint additionally includes extracts from the earlier versions plus up-to-date mathematical forms. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
A Guide to Newton's Principiap. 1
Contents of the Guidep. 3
Abbreviationsp. 9
Chapter 1 A Brief History of the Principiap. 11
Chapter 2 Translating the Principiap. 26
Chapter 3 Some General Aspects of the Principiap. 43
Chapter 4 Some Fundamental Concepts of the Principiap. 85
Chapter 5 Axioms, or the Laws of Motionp. 109
Chapter 6 The Structure of Book 1p. 128
Chapter 7 The Structure of Book 2p. 161
Chapter 8 The Structure of Book 3p. 195
Chapter 9 The Concluding General Scholiump. 274
Chapter 10 How to Read the Principiap. 293
Chapter 11 Conclusionp. 369
The Principia (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy)p. 371
Halley's Ode to Newtonp. 379
Newton's Preface to the First Editionp. 381
Newton's Preface to the Second Editionp. 384
Cotes's Preface to the Second Editionp. 385
Newton's Preface to the Third Editionp. 400
Definitionsp. 403
Axioms, or the Laws of Motionp. 416
Book 1 The Motion of Bodiesp. 431
Book 2 The Motion of Bodiesp. 631
Book 3 The System of the Worldp. 791
General Scholiump. 939
Contents of the Principiap. 945
Index of Namesp. 973