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Document Details :
Title: Early Modern Mathematics in a Letter
Subtitle: Adriaen Verwer to David Gregory on Mathematics and Natural Philosophy
Author(s): MOJET, Emma (G.E.N.)
Volume: 44 Issue: 2 Date: 2017
This paper argues that the Dutch Menonnite merchant Adriaen Verwer (1654-1717) found an example of a new mathematical method in Newton’s Principia that enabled him to counter mathematical philosophical arguments of Spinoza. The argument is based partly on a hitherto unpublished letter that Verwer wrote to the Scottish Newtonian mathematician David Gregory (1659-1708) and that is edited in the appendix. This letter sheds light on the idea of ‘usefulness’ of the Principia’s mathematical philosophy, as experienced by a Dutch group of Newtonian popularisers. The group, including Verwer, used Newton to vindicate the mathematical method from Spinozist rationalism. The argument also draws on Verwer’s own publications, his further correspondence with Gregory and his annotations in the first edition of Newton’s Principia.