Call for applications: 5 Full-Time PhD Positions

5 Full-Time PhD Positions on the Research Project ‘Contra Isaac Newton: British Anti-Mathematical Criticism of Newton’s Natural Philosophy and the ‘New Science’, 1650-c.1750’
The Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( is currently recruiting 5 PhD students for the project titled ‘Contra Isaac Newton: British Anti-Mathematical Criticism of Newton’s Natural Philosophy and the ‘New Science’, 1650-c.1750’.
Project Description
The dissemination of Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727) natural philosophy and the ‘new science’ was an intricate and multifaceted process. While Newton’s ideas and the broader ‘new science’ gained prominence, they also encountered resistance from various quarters. This research proposal aims to enhance our understanding of the diffusion of Newton’s natural philosophical ideas and the broader ‘new science’ more general by closely examining the resistance they faced. Although recent scholarship has explored so-called ‘Newtonianism’ and late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century natural philosophy in Europe, a comprehensive systematic analysis of the diverse anti-mathematical criticism raised against Newton’s experimental-mathematical philosophy and that of other natural philosophers remains conspicuously absent. Generally speaking, ‘anti-mathematicism’ refers to arguments raised against claims that the application of mathematics in natural philosophy leads to adequate knowledge of the physical world.
This research proposal delves in to the intriguing history of British anti-mathematicism, shedding light on two distinct contexts. First, we embark on a systematic analysis of British anti-mathematical critiques levelled against Newton’s natural philosophy and the emerging ‘new science’ within the realm of natural philosophy and philosophy. Four PhD dissertations will delve into this first context, examining the work of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), and George Berkeley (1685-1753) among others. Secondly, transcending the boundaries of natural philosophy, our aim extends to the poetic domain. We aim to provide an intricate examination of British anti-mathematical criticism of Newton’s natural philosophy and the ‘new science’ within poetry. One PhD dissertation will delve into this second context. For a more detailed description of the research proposal, feel free to contact us at
  • Master’s degree: Applicants should hold a Master’s degree in a field relevant to the research proposal at the starting date of the contract.
  • Dedicated team player: We seek individuals who are committed team players.
  • Good language skills: Proficiency in both written and spoken English is essential.
  • Knowledge of early modern science or philosophy: Familiarity with the history of early modern science or philosophy is desirable.
  • Analytic and hermeneutical excellence: Outstanding hermeneutical and analytical skills are expected.
  • Latin proficiency (optional): Knowledge of Latin would be advantageous for certain subprojects.
Application: Interested applicants should submit their application to The application package should include:
  • A detailed CV highlighting relevant experience;
  • Transcripts of grades obtained for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees;
  • A letter of recommendation that explains the candidate’s skills and suitability to the project;
  • A writing sample (20-30 pages); and,
  • A research statement (1-2 pages) that: (a) explains how your past research aligns with the current research project and (b) outlines your research plan.
Deadline: The application deadline is 30 September, 2024. However, the deadline may be extended until the positions are filled.
Starting date: We anticipate a starting date between November 2024 and January 2025.
Position details: The position is for a two-year term which can be renewed for an additional two years pending a positive evaluation.
Funding: This research project is funded by the Special Research Fund of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
For more information, please contact