CFP: ‘Criticisms of Isaac Newton’s Natural Philosophical Program, 1672–c.1750’ conference

Call for Papers: ‘Criticisms of Isaac Newton’s Natural Philosophical Program, 1672–c.1750’

20–21 September 2024

University Foundation, Egmontstraat 11, 1000 Brussels

According to the old narrative, Isaac Newton’s natural philosophy became widely accepted across Europe in a relatively short time span. Recently, historians of science, philosophy, and ideas have begun to question this narrative. Newton’s natural philosophy was contested and criticized from many directions, and it took decades before Newton’s natural philosophical program gained traction on the European Continent. This international conference seeks to study the full scope of criticisms that was raised against Newton’s novel natural philosophical program in Europe between 1672―the year in which Newton published his first optical paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London―and roughly 1750. We are looking for contributions that provide in-depth analyses of the different sorts of criticism with which Newton’s natural philosophy was met, including (but not limited to) metaphysical, mathematical-technical, epistemological, methodological, experimental-observational, and religious criticism. Alongside contributions on canonical figures, we strongly encourage contributions that focus on less well-known or even neglected figures. Our aim is to bring together a representative sample of the many different criticisms that were raised against Newton’s natural philosophy in the period under consideration so as to gain a more nuanced understanding of the diffusion of Newton’s natural philosophical work.

Keynote speakers include:

Mordechai Feingold (Caltech)

Niccolò Guicciardini (Università degli studi di Milano)

Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (University of Bucharest (ICUB))

Steffen Ducheyne (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

If you would like to submit a presentation, please send a 500-word abstract (including title, name(s), affiliation, and bibliography) and a short CV to before 15 May 2024. Authors will be notified of the decision on their submission in late May.

A selection of papers presented at the conference will be proposed for publication in a forthcoming high-quality publication. Researchers who cannot attend the conference but who would like to propose a contribution for the planned publication should send an email to before 1 July 2024, explaining the scope of the contribution.