We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR
Newton and the Reality of Force
Abstract

Newton's critics argued that his treatment of gravity in the Principia saddles him with a substantial dilemma. If he insists that gravity is a real force, he must invoke action at a distance because of his explicit failure to characterize the mechanism underlying gravity. To avoid distant action, however, he must admit that gravity is not a real force, and that he has therefore failed to discover the actual cause of the phenomena associated with it. A reinterpretation of Newton's distinction between the "mathematical" and the "physical" treatment of force indicates how he can reject each horn of this dilemma.