Sir Isaac Newton, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes

Sir Isaac Newton, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes

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Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton was born in 1642, the same year Galileo died, in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England on Christmas Day. He is considered one of the greatest scientists in history. As an English mathematician and physicist, Newton made important contributions to many fields of science. His discoveries and theories laid the foundation for much of the progress in science since his time. The three most important offerings of Newton are solving the mystifications of light and optics, formulating his three laws of motion, and deriving from them the law of universal gravitation. Also he contributed so much to the fields of mathematics too.
While he was still a student at Cambridge University in 1664, he had a great interest in the mysteries of light,optic, and colors. He read the works of Robert Boyle, Robert Hooks, and also René Descartes for some motivation. He investigated the refraction of light by passing a beam of sunlight through a type of prism, which split the beam into separate colors reflecting a rainbow.Over a few years in series of elaborate experiments, Newton discovered measurable, mathematical patterns in the phenomenon of color. In 1672, Newton sent a brief summary of his theory of colors to the Royal Society in London but it only led to a number of criticisms in publication that hurt him greatly and maybe stopped his study at Cambridge. But in 1704, Newton published Opticks, which explained his theories in great detail.
Newton's three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation are by far the most important scientific works in his life. After his criticism of light and optics, Edmund Halley, a British astronomer and mathematician, went to discuss with Newton orbital motion. Newton already had an attraction in universal gravitation so thanks to Halley's visit, Newton went back to those studies. During the next couple years, with the help of the German astronomer Johannes Kepler's laws of orbital motion, Newton formulated his own three laws of motion. And from these three laws, Newton derived the law of universal gravitation which explained that all bodies in space and on earth are affected by the force called gravity. Probably the greatest book of Isaac Newton is Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica which he published in 1687 explaining his theory of universal gravitation. Principia, which most people call it, is definitely a turning point in the history of science.
Newton's three laws of motion are:
1) an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force

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2) That force is equal to the sum of mass plus acceleration
3) That every force has an equal and opposite force – action and reaction.

Newton's first achievement was in mathematics. He generalized the methods that were being used to draw tangents to curves and to calculate the area swept by curves, and he recognized that the two procedures were inverse operations. By joining them in what he called the fluxional method, Newton developed in the autumn of 1666 a kind of mathematics that is now known as calculus. Calculus was a new and powerful method that carried modern mathematics above the level of Greek geometry. Though Newton invented calculus, he didn't introduce it to mathematics yet. Another man named Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz created the same type of method as Newton and got credit for it since Newton hadn't published his yet because of his fear of publication and criticism. But when Newton actually that he had created it first, a huge conflict arose between him and Leibniz that affected so much at that time and the conflict had outlived Leibniz's death.
Newton also helped Cambridge resist King James II's effort to change its university to a Catholic institution in 1687. So the Cambridge University elected Newton to serve as a representative in parliament. It was going pretty good for Newton at this time as he saw the triumph of Principia. He was later elected as warden, and later master, of the Royal Mint in London, where he lived after 1696.In 1703 the Royal Society elected him president, an office he held for the rest of his life. He never married and lived modestly, but was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1727.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. He one of the most influential political philosophers during the Enlightenment in eighteenth century Europe. The major goal of Enlightenment thinkers was to give a foundation to philosophy that was independent of any particular tradition, culture, or religion. His mother had died and father had left him at a young age leaving him to be raised by his aunt and uncle. In his younger years, Rousseau was part musician and composer in Paris where he had moved in 1742.
He won an essay contest conducted by the Academy of Dijon in 1750 with his first major philosophical work, A Discourse on the Sciences and Arts. Rousseau argues in this piece of work that the progression of the sciences and arts has caused the corruption of virtue and morality. This discourse won Rousseau fame and recognition and also making him an enemy to some and lead up to his next piece of work that was longer then the first, The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. The second discourse didn't win a Academy prize but it showed the intelligence of Rousseau. The central idea of this work is that human beings are basically good by nature, but were corrupted by the complex historical events in the past that resulted in present day civil society.
Music was still a major part of Rousseau's life at this point, and several years later, his opera, Le Devin du Village (The Village Soothsayer) was a great success and earned him even more recognition. But despite the fame of his opera, he gave up composing music.
Rousseau's general philosophy tried to grasp an emotional and passionate side of man which he felt was surpassed in previous philosophical thinking. The idea of the general will is the heart of Rousseau's philosophy. The general will doesn't go by majority but by the will of the just, wise, and the forces of good. Society is coordinated and unified by the general will.
Possible the greatest work of Rousseau is The Social Contract published in 1762. The social contract is the agreement with which a person enters into civil society. The contract binds people into a community that exists for shared preservation. In entering into civil society, people sacrifice the physical freedom of being able to do whatever they please, but they gain the civil freedom of being able to think and act rationally and morally. Rousseau believes that only by entering into the social contract can we become fully human. Also, he published Emile at this time which was his philosophy on education.
There was a major problem though due to these works. Paris authorities banned Rousseau's philosophical works which caused great controversy in France leaving Rousseau to flee from Paris and he went back to Switzerland. He still though continued to find many complications. He made many other works still to justify his work and life. Some of them are The Confessions, The Reveries of the Solitary Walker, and Rousseau: Judge of Jean-Jacques. He continued to write until his death in 1778 and influenced many people like Immanuel Kant.

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was born April 5, 1588(same year as Spanish Armada) in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England. He is known as a very brilliant English political philosopher. His father was a clergyman and had fought another clergyman having to leave the city and put Hobbes with his wealthy uncle. Due to his uncle's wealth, Hobbes received a great education and being admitted to Oxford University at the age of 15. Hobbes was very intelligent and received the opportunity to tutor the son of a very noble family. So this is how Hobbes got aquatinted with the very important people like the king and members of parliament. Hobbes was in the middle at the time of the civil wars that came about between Charles II and parliament.
His main concern is the problem of social and political order: how human beings can live together in peace and avoid the danger and fear of civil conflict. Hobbes politics was based on the desire of power and the fear of death. He also believed in the social contract (of Rousseau) which was to give up your rights to the wise, righteous decision to work on your behalf. He believed that dominance is extremely necessary to overcome the haunting fear of death that man has in a state of nature, and a government's sole reason for existence is for the safety of the people.
In moral philosophy he thought that civilization was based on fear. Good is the object of desire, evil the object of hatred. He trusted in the sense that although one's actions are free, one's will is not. One is free if there is no consequences on one's actions, but one's actions are bound to have them since they have causes. On the subject of punishment he held that justification of punishment must be effective and practical.

Hobbes became interested in why people allowed themselves to be ruled and what would be the best form of government for England. In 1651, Hobbes wrote his most famous work, Leviathan. In the Bible, Leviathan is said to be an animal that ate all the others and was very powerful. Most people believe it was a dinosaur. In the Leviathan, he argued that people were so wicked and perverse that they couldn't be trusted enough to govern the people. So Hobbes was pro absolute monarchy. Hobbes believed that humans were basically selfish creatures who would do anything to better their position. He thought the government should have one powerful leader( the Leviathan) to rule the contry and keep intact the evil and selfishness of people. He says that all humans are equal, and because of this, we are naturally prone to fight each other. He cites three natural reasons that humans fight: competition over material good, general distrust, and the glory of powerful positions. Hobbes comes to the conclusion that humanity's natural condition is a state of war, constant fear, and lack of morality.
Hobbes then went on to complete the Elements of Philosophy, On Body in 1655, and On the Human Being in 1658 and many others including translations of Homer's work. In the meantime, Leviathan had caused a stir in England (not very big though cause it wasn't published yet to the public). Hobbes had made many enemies, especially among Catholics, Presbyterians, academics, and parliamentarians. He was often accused of being an atheist, and in 1666 he narrowly escaped being accused of heresy by a committee of the House of Commons. In order to destroy evidence, he burned many of his papers . Nevertheless, Leviathan was banned in England. The only alternative was to publish a revised edition in Latin. He died at an old age of 91 in 1679.
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