Isaac Newton’s Success And Effects On The Enlightenment

Sir Isaac Newton is the best example of someone who had the worst circumstances and worked a great deal for everything he accomplished to make the best of it. This includes his early life disadvantages, the years at Cambridge, and the seemingly unconquerable problems he encountered in his late lifetime. Isaac Newton was the figurehead of the Enlightenment, and his impactful contributions range from the invention of calculus to his famous work Principia Mathematica.

Newton was born on Christmas Day in Woolsthorpe England, 1642. One of his earliest problems in life was that he had an incredibly low life expectancy; he was the size of a large English mug. Newton’s father died a few months before Sir Isaac was born; this lack in a father figure ultimately led to the over-attention he received from his mother and caused him to have a closed off personality. After a few years, Newton’s mother got remarried, but his stepfather died too. This caused Newton’s uncle to come into town to help out his sister and nephew. Newton was called home from school to work the family farm which put his future temporarily on hold. At the time, this seemed like a smart and practical decision, but his uncle saw the great potential in his intelligent nephew and sent him back to Cambridge. This was the beginning of the many setbacks Newton experienced in his plentiful life.

The University of Cambridge was the engine that drove Isaac Newton’s train. In the beginning, he started like many others, he fully immersed himself in Galileo and Aristotle’s work. This is why so many of the philosophers from this time period have similar views on basic concepts. Newton, the young student, embarked on his journey to become a well-known philosopher and arrived at Trinity College Cambridge on June 5, 1661. “Despite his family’s money, Newton attended Cambridge as a subsizar [sic], a type of working student”. After a year of school, his stepfather died so he temporarily left the university to help on the farm and pick up the slack. In 1664, a few years after he returned to the university, he entered and won a scholarship contest which allowed him to quit his job and attend school with no fees. The Black Death fell upon Europe the next year, which forced the university to close. For about half a semester Newton was once again at home, but this time it was a good thing because he continued his academics without the restrictions of the school. He had no academic deadlines and had essentially freedom in his studies. This is when he finally started to break out into the famous intellectual we know; discovering his theory in light and beginning to form his laws of motion. Isaac Newton was not only a very intelligent man, but also a very privileged, and hardworking student. This long list contains the start of the many milestones he achieved, it’s shown on the 1780th page in Anthony Storr’s scholarly Journal, Isaac Newton:

In February 1664 he was elected scholar and took his BA in 1665. In 1667 he became a minor fellow, in 1668 an MA and Major fellow. In 1669, when still only 27, he became a Lucasian professor of mathematics. Charles II provided, by letter patent, a special dispensation, which allowed Newton to take this chair without at the same time taking holy orders, a step that was normally demanded of all fellows.

There is a variety of practices Sir Isaac Newton excelled at, the first two of these fields was in Alchemy and Mathematics. The practice of alchemy did not end up as a positive experience for Sir Isaac, just past the age of 50, he went mentally ill from what most believe is Mercury poisoning. This was as a result of Newton possibly attempting to expand his brain due to a silly old scientific belief. Even though Newton did not succeed here, he was an outstanding philosopher in the field of Math. As mentioned, later on, he created a new subject of math, which is widely applied around the globe. This eventually helped shape many of our modern subjects of math including physics and a present-day geometry. Newton was also an inventor and was involved in the field of astronomy. This was a very beneficial area of work for Isaac Newton because it tied into some of his studies and inventions such as the reflecting telescope. Newton only focused on a single section in optics but spent a lot of time working on it. Including multiple years of work devoted to confirming and testing his theories on light and the color spectrum. This is another area of his life with advantages and disadvantages. Isaac Newton was very involved in a variety of things, alchemy, math, optics, astronomy, and inventing.

Newton actually spent a few years more politically focused than scientifically focused. He was the second scientist ever to be knighted; this developed into quite the honor because after being appointed Warden in 1696, he became a Master of the Royal Mint in 1700. About three years passed and Newton was appointed President of the Royal Society and served as a member of Parliament.

Most people completely overlook all the setbacks and problems Sir Isaac Newton met in his lifetime and focus on the accomplishments. The truth is he took place in many disagreements and had major issues in his life. The first of his disagreements were with the philosopher Leibniz. This was because Newton waited to publish his creation of Calculus. The two had a big disagreement on it because Newton created Calculus in 1664-6, but didn’t publish it until 1687. Meanwhile, Leibniz clearly created it years after in 1675-6 and published it in 1684. Technically the debate between the two was never settled, but Newton was given credit since he started earlier than Leibniz. Newton got himself into many quarrels with Robert Hooke, and the astronomer Flamsteed. The disagreement with Flamsteed was clearly just due to Newton being lazy and not giving clear enough credit to Flamsteed’s advice on a set of astronomical teachings; after a while, the two refused to see each other. The third of Newton’s quarrels were with Robert Hooke, Hooke and Newton disagreed on nearly all Newton’s discoveries. The first time, Hooke criticized his theory of light and went to great lengths and experiments to challenge its credibility. The conclusion was that Newton is correct because he has a clear experiment and procedure proven to work, unlike Hooke’s empty threats (1781).

The largest mountain Newton has ever climbed was in 1693 when he became mentally ill. The great Sir Isaac Newton had deteriorated and blocked off every relationship in his life. It even got to the point where he would report threats and conversations that never happened and went insane. “It has been suggested that Newton, who performed chemical experiments in his room, was suffering from poisoning by mercury…”. This was never confirmed because there are no proven records that he lost any teeth which is a side effect of mercury poisoning. The outcome of Isaac Newton’s life is not surprising when examining his childhood. He was always tinkering with items and making gadgets, but also possessed a weird closed off personality.

Newton either discovered or helped start the path to the majority of the concepts and tools we use in our everyday lives. One of the earliest discoveries Newton made was while he was at home due to the European plague. This is the discovery of gravity; this tied into his many fields of work including astronomy. Imagine not knowing why we don’t float into space; this was actually a question before the Enlightenment. “In Principia, Newton formulated his law of universal gravitation which states that any two bodies in the universe attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses…”. Newton’s religious beliefs are not often mentioned in many papers, but he did study the Bible all throughout his lifetime. When revealing his theories on a gravitational force in Principia Mathematica, he made it clear to everyone that God made gravity, he just discovered it. In 1665, Newton made another extraordinary contribution to our lives, he invented Calculus. This not only made it all the way into our modern-day universities and school systems, but was helpful to many other scientists in the Enlightenment.

Sir Isaac developed his theories on white light and the color spectrum back at home when he discovered gravity. Newton formed an experiment, to try to prove the current theory (at the time) of white light was wrong. “Advocates of the wave theory had previously stated that light waves are made of white light, [sic] and that the colour [sic] spectrum that can be seen through a prism is formed because of corruption within the glass”. Essentially what this is saying is that the more glass the light passes through, the more corrupt it becomes. Newton set up two separate prisms at special angles and shot a beam of white light through the two prisms. The white light passed through the first prism and split into the color spectrum, but when it passed through the second prism it returned to its appearance of white light. This allowed Newton to confirm there is no corruption involved in the creation of the color spectrum. Newton also later tested and found light actually acts as a particle, a “photon. ” After getting into the field of optics with white light, Newton decided to improve the telescope. He realized he could easily compact it and enlarge the image if he spent the time. After trials and errors of different lenses, he attempted to replace them with mirrors. This ended up taking up half the space as the lenses and made the image clearer. The laws of motion are equally important as Newton’s discovery of gravity. They describe how everything around us moves and reacts to each other. He split the laws into 3 parts, the law of Inertia, F =MA, and Action Reaction. The law of Inertia states an object will not change its course unless affected by an outside force. The second law talks about how the acceleration of something is proportional to the force acting on it. He sums both of these laws up with the third one by saying that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is currently used in schools around the world to teach subjects in Physics, Earth Science, and even Newton’s brainchild, Calculus. These inventions and theories he formed are all intertwined, he has years of solid work and experiments for each field of work he is in, ranging from astronomy to optics. He reveals all this in a nice order and work he produced in Principia Mathematica.

“Newton’s contribution to Enlightenment science helped to make science a respectable area of inquiry and removed the last pull of blasphemy that had lingered since the time of Galileo. ” Our world would be completely different if Sir Isaac Newton had not been born. He is one of the many intellectual giants that constructed one theory and it produced a whole new topic. Newton creates this chain reaction through the enlightenment all the way up to the present day by creating Calculus, developing a new telescope, and even discovering gravity. Isaac Newton is a very influential being who has certainly left a fingerprint on our lives.

10 October 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now