CFP: Appropriations of Isaac Newton's thought, ca. 1700-1750, Brussels

CFP: 'Feeding on the nectar of the gods': Appropriations of Isaac Newton's thought, ca. 1700-1750

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Meeting Dates: 5-6 July 2016
Call For Papers Deadline: April 24, 2016

Monument to
Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey, by B. Cole, after
William Kent, and after John Michael Rysbrack, 1731 or after
- NPG D13121 - © National Portrait Gallery, London


The conference theme is the diffusion of Newton’s thought during the first half of the eighteenth century across Europe. The seeming ease with which Newton’s ideas were diffused has long been described as self-evident. State-of-the-art research has, however, shown that the spread and success of Newton’s corpus was far from obvious. More particularly, it has been suggested that the successful diffusion of Newton’s ideas was not merely determined by the obvious merits of the scientific claims which Newton developed in his two major works, the Principia (first edition: 1687) and the Opticks (first edition: 1704), but also by local factors and contexts, such as inter alia: (a) already established scholarly and educationally dominant traditions or systems; (b) theological and religious fractions, sensibilities, and worldviews; and (c) metaphysical and methodological orientations. Seen from this perspective, if we want to fully understand the successful spread of Newton’s ideas, we need to take into account the multifarious ways in which his ideas were appropriated in order to meet local 'needs'. At the same time, we need to pinpoint the characteristics of those very ideas in virtue of which they could be successfully ‘exported’ to different intellectual and scientific hubs across Europe. The scientific committee welcomes presentations that contribute to our understanding of the spread of Newton’s thought across Europe from approximately 1700 to 1750.


Abstracts of approximately 500 words should be sent to the conference chair Prof. dr. Steffen Ducheyne (e-mail: by 24 April 2016. Decisions will be made shortly thereafter. There will be room for 12 contributed presentations (20-22 minutes for the actual presentation + 10-8 minutes for Q&A). Abstracts will be evaluated anonymously by the scientific committee according to the following criteria: 1. quality, 2. relevance to the conference theme, and 3. capacity to engender a diverse coverage of the diffusion of Newton’s thought.


Marta Cavazza (Università di Bologna)
Tamás Demeter (Hungarian Academy of Science)
Steffen Ducheyne (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Mordechai Feingold (Caltech)
Niccoló Guicciardini (Università degli Studi di Bergamo)*
Rob Iliffe (University of Oxford)
Scott Mandelbrote (University of Cambridge)
* Lecture sponsored by the Belgian Society for Logic and Philosophy of Science.


The final programme will online by the end of April on the conference website (


Marta Cavazza, Tamás Demeter, Steffen Ducheyne, Mordechai Feingold, Niccoló Guicciardini, Rob Iliffe, Scott Mandelbrote.


Liesbet De Kock, Sven Delariviere, Steffen Ducheyne, Joachim Frans, Pieter Present, Jip van Besouw, Yannick Van den Abbeel, Nigel Vinckier.

Prof. dr. Steffen Ducheyne
Research Professor
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science
Pleinlaan 2, room 5B425
B-1050 Brussels

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