Robert Greene’s Anti-Newtonian Natural Philosophy


Researcher: Ovidiu Babeş

Robert Greene developed one of the most vigorous early repudiations of Newtonianism. Greene was a fellow of the University of Cambridge, where Newton was based. His philosophy is found in three important works that were published between 1711 and 1727.

Apart from criticizing the new sciences on theological grounds, Greene stands out because he also objected to Newton and other natural philosophers in a highly systematic way. Greene argued against (among others) Newtonian science by way of metaphysical, epistemological, natural philosophical, as well as experimental arguments.

This subproject addresses the following research questions:

  1. Which elements of Newton’s MEP did Greene reject?
  2. On which philosophical traditions did Greene draw in his anti-Newtonian campaign?
  3. On which strategies and arguments did Greene rely to debunk Newton’s natural philosophy and MEP?
  4. What are the core features of Greene’s own natural philosophy and epistemology and which arguments did he put forward to justify them?
  5.  What was, if any, the impact of Greene’s intervention? Although Greene’s work contains one of the most thorough criticisms of Newton’s natural philosophy, to this day his work has received very little attention.