Isaac Newton and the influence of Science on Literature
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was the greatest English mathematician of the Restoration Age who laid the basis of differential and integral calculus and demonstrated the laws of gravitation and motion of the planets. After Galileo Galilei in Italy and Kepler in Germany, the scientific method (the study of physical phenomena by sensory observation, mathematical measurement and inductive analysis) had already been established. With Isaac Newton and scientific studies a new attitude of self-confidence and trust in human progress spread in England. Men opened their minds and freed themselves from fears and superstitions.
The influence of science on literature was beneficial; science gave literature more order and clarity as well as helped develop learned discussions. In 1664-1665 the Royal Society was established in order to examine and improve the English language since it was decided that scientific works, experiments and conclusions, would be recorded in English rather than in Latin. When Newton’s published his work “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” in 1687 science became the most important source of learning. In 1690 John Locke published his work suggesting that human knowledge was coming through the senses and as such it was to be gained by individual experience. Both Newton and Locke dominated the thinking of the 18th century and their scientific attitude deeply influenced the literature of the time.