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A Note on Newton, Boyle, and Hume's "Experimental Method"

A Note on Newton, Boyle, and Hume's "Experimental Method" , pp. 337-344 It has long been accepted that when Hume speaks of "the experimental [read 'scientific'] method" he is referring to Newton. Kemp Smith, Mossner, and Capaldi, none of whom are noted for "carelessness and inattention," find it unnecessary to argue the point.1 But recently, as Jane Mclntyre has observed, [t]he nature of the relationship of Hume's work to Newtonianism [has become] a matter of ongoing debate. The "experimental method" referred to in the subtitle was certainly not unique to Newton.2 The debate is due to a revisionist interpretation largely led by Peter Jones and Michael Barfoot, who says "the textual evidence for Hume's so-called 'Newtonianism' has recently been re-examined and found to be both limited and ambiguous;"3 and that "so-called," along with the scare-quotes around "Newtonianism," show a confident position. It has rapidly reached the point where a standard interpreter like Penelhum can say that Jones has not merely argued but "argued persuasively, that the influence of Newton on Hume has been overrated."4 I would like to make a brief defense of the standard interpretation. Hume may have had little formal contact with Newton's work; his fascination with Newton may have originally exceeded his grasp, as http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

A Note on Newton, Boyle, and Hume's "Experimental Method"

Hume Studies , Volume 23 (2) – Jan 26, 1997

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Hume Society
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Copyright © Hume Society
ISSN
1947-9921
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Abstract

, pp. 337-344 It has long been accepted that when Hume speaks of "the experimental [read 'scientific'] method" he is referring to Newton. Kemp Smith, Mossner, and Capaldi, none of whom are noted for "carelessness and inattention," find it unnecessary to argue the point.1 But recently, as Jane Mclntyre has observed, [t]he nature of the relationship of Hume's work to Newtonianism [has become] a matter of ongoing debate. The "experimental method" referred to in the subtitle was certainly not unique to Newton.2 The debate is due to a revisionist interpretation largely led by Peter Jones and Michael Barfoot, who says "the textual evidence for Hume's so-called 'Newtonianism' has recently been re-examined and found to be both limited and ambiguous;"3 and that "so-called," along with the scare-quotes around "Newtonianism," show a confident position. It has rapidly reached the point where a standard interpreter like Penelhum can say that Jones has not merely argued but "argued persuasively, that the influence of Newton on Hume has been overrated."4 I would like to make a brief defense of the standard interpretation. Hume may have had little formal contact with Newton's work; his fascination with Newton may have originally exceeded his grasp, as

Journal

Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 1997

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