Sir Isaac Newton
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica


Axiomata sive Leges Motus  

Liber Tertius: De Mundi Systemate

Preface (translation by Andrew Motte)

Regulae Philosophandi (this page)

Characteristics of Newton’s Latin

Note: the laws are written in indirect statement.

Newton Regulae Philosophandi I

line 2: phaenomenīsphenomena; appearances (in the sky or air)
          explicandis: case?
          sufficiantare sufficient; suffice
line 3: utiquecertainly; at any rate
          “natura nihil agit frustra” cf. Aristotle (Politics I.2)
Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora” a version of “Ockham’s    razor” (William Ockham, c. 1285-?1349, English philosopher).  Another version was:  “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate
Cf. also Copernicus I.x lines 52-55. For a reaction against a multitude of seemingly unnecessary rules, see also Descartes, Dissertatio II.ii lines 1-10.

Newton Regulae Philosophandi II

line 1: effectuum naturalium: with “eaedem . . . causae” translate with assignandae sunt.
line 2: quatenusas much as; to the degree that (cf. Lex I line 8 above)
line 3: uti [causa] respirationis

Newton Regulae Philosophandi III

Newton Regulae Philosophandi III continued

Newton Regulae Philosophandi III end

line 1: intendito be stretched, extended, become greater in degree
          remittito be relaxed, diminished, reduced in degree [Those which cannot be diminished cannot be completely taken away].  These relate to the medieval concept of “latitude of forms” of qualities which could be quantified, and thus undergo “intension” or “remission” by degrees.
          nequeuntare not able
line 2: competuntbelong (+ what case? why?)
          instituereto conduct; (within reach)

The five universal qualities found in the first paragraph are: extensio, durities, impenetrabilitas, mobilitas, and vis inertiae.

(2nd paragraph)  gravia esseare heavy, i.e. gravitate
line 2:  pro quantitate materiaein proportion to the mass
line 3: vicissimin turnon the other hand
line 9 im-penetra-bili-tate: one of the universal qualities
             utiqueat any rate, certainly
line 11: attamenbut yet
line 12: per vim insitamby inherent force [see Definitio III]

Newton Regulae Philosophandi IV

line 2:  non obstantibus contrariis hypothesibus: ablative absolute
notwithstanding contrary hypotheses; with contrary hypotheses not hindering
line 3:  quamproximeas nearly as possible
         *haberibe regarded, considered
line 4:  [propositiones] accuratiores
line 5:  obnoxiae (+ dat.): liable to; subject to
line 6:  tollaturbe destroyed, done away with


Propositio XXIV. Theorema XIX (Tides)