The mathematical principles of natural philosophy
From the introduction:
That the Principia of Newton should have remained so generally unknown in this country to the present day is a somewhat remarkable fact ; because the name of the author, learned with the very elements of science, is revered at every hearth-stone where knowledge and virtue are of chief esteem, while, abroad, in all the high places of the land, the character which that name recalls is held up as the noblest illustration of what Man may be, and may do, in the possession and manifestation of preeminent intellectual and moral worth ; because the work is celebrated, not only in the history of one career and one mind, but in the history of all achievement and human reason itself; because of the spirit of inquiry, which has been aroused, and which, in pursuing its searchings, is not always satisfied with stopping short of the fountain-head of any given truth ; and, finally, because of the earnest endeavour that has been and is constantly going on, in many sections of the Republic, to elevate the popular standard of edu- cation and give to scientific and other efforts a higher and a better aim.
True, the Principia has been hitherto inaccessible to popular use. A few copies in Latin, and occasionally one in English may be found in some of our larger libraries, or in the possession of some ardent disciple of the great Master. But a dead language in the one case, and an enormous price in both, particularly in that of the English edition, have thus far opposed very sufficient obstacles to the wide circulation of the work.
It is now, however, placed within the reach of all. And in performing this labour, the utmost care has been taken, by collation, revision, and otherwise, to render the First American Edition the most accurate and beautiful in our language. " Le plus beau monument que r on puisse elever a la gloire de Newton, c'est une bonne edition de ses ouvrages :" and a monument like unto that we would here set up.
The Principia, above all, glows with the immortality of a transcendent mind. Marble and brass dissolve and pass away; but the true creations of genius endure, in time and beyond time, forever: high upon the adamant of the indestructible, they send forth afar and near, over the troublous waters of life, a pure, unwavering, quenchless light whereby the myriad myriads of barques, richly laden with reason, intelligence and various faculty, are guided through the night and the storm, by the beetling shore and the hidden rock, the breaker and the shoal, safely into havens calm and secure.
To the teacher and the taught, the scholar and the student, the devotee of Science and the worshipper of Truth, the Principia must ever continue to be of inestimable value. If to educate means, not so much to store the memory with symbol» and facts, as to bring forth the faculties of the soul and develop them to the full by healthy nurture and a hardy discipline, then, what so effective to the accomplishment of that end as the study of Geometrical Synthesis?
The Calculus, in some shape or other, is, indeed, necessary to the successful prosecution of researches in the higher branches of philosophy. But has not the Analytical encroached upon the Synthetical, and Algorithmic Formulas been employed when not requisite, either for the evolution of truth or even its apter illustration?
To each method belongs, undoubtedly, an appropriate use. Newton, himself the inventor of Fluxions, censured the handling of Geometrical subjects by Algebraical calculations; and the maturest opinions which he expressed were additionally in favour of the Geometrical Method. His preference, so strongly marked, is not to be reckoned a mere matter of taste; and his authority should bear with preponderating weight upon the decision of every instructor in adopting what may be deemed the best plan to ensure the completest mental development.
the book details :
Download 47.4 MB