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Isaac Newton's "Principia", French Translation


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The book that brought physics to France.

By using mathematics to describe nature, Isaac Newton essentially developed what we now consider the scientific branch of physics in his book Principia Mathematica. This book laid the foundations for explaining why things behave the way they do in nature. However, Newton famously wrote his books in Latin. To help spread the scientific revolution and this new understanding of the world around us, Henry Pemberton, a Royal Society colleague of Newton's, translated the book into French. 

Some have proposed that this book may have provided the link from Newton's Principia, which is said to be the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, to French philosopher Voltaire, thereby suggesting it may have had a minor influence on the French revolution. But that's not our area of expertise, so we'll leave that for the historians to determine.

495 pages
Author: Henry Pemberton (translated from Newton's original)
Published: 1755
Condition: Very good. Includes many fold-out diagrams in terrific condition.

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Incredibly rare book, and none like it have been found after many online searches.

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Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), often referred to as simply the Principia (/prɪnˈsɪpiə, prɪnˈkɪpiə/), is a work in three books by Isaac Newton, in Latin, first published 5 July 1687. After annotating and correcting his personal copy of the first edition, Newton published two further editions, in 1713 and 1726.

The Principia states Newton's laws of motion, forming the foundation of classical mechanics; Newton's law of universal gravitation; and a derivation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion (which Kepler first obtained empirically). The Principia is considered one of the most important works in the history of science.

The French mathematical physicist Alexis Clairaut assessed it in 1747: "The famous book of Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy marked the epoch of a great revolution in physics. The method followed by its illustrious author Sir Newton ... spread the light of mathematics on a science which up to then had remained in the darkness of conjectures and hypotheses." A more recent assessment has been that while acceptance of Newton's theories was not immediate, by the end of the century after publication in 1687, "no one could deny that" (out of the Principia) "a science had emerged that, at least in certain respects, so far exceeded anything that had ever gone before that it stood alone as the ultimate exemplar of science generally".

In formulating his physical theories, Newton developed and used mathematical methods now included in the field of calculus. But the language of calculus as we know it was largely absent from the Principia; Newton gave many of his proofs in a geometric form of infinitesimal calculus, based on limits of ratios of vanishing small geometric quantities.In a revised conclusion to the Principia (see General Scholium), Newton used his expression that became famous, Hypotheses non fingo ("I feign no hypotheses").