Quotations by Isaac Newton


...from the same principles, I now demonstrate the frame of the System of the World.
Principia Mathematica.

Hypotheses non fingo.
I feign no hypotheses.
Principia Mathematica.

To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. `Tis much better to do a little with certainty, and leave the rest for others that come after you, than to explain all things.
Quoted in G Simmons Calculus Gems (New York 1992).

The description of right lines and circles, upon which geometry is founded, belongs to mechanics. Geometry does not teach us to draw these lines, but requires them to be drawn.
Principia Mathematica.

The latest authors, like the most ancient, strove to subordinate the phenomena of nature to the laws of mathematics.

[His epitaph:]
Who, by vigor of mind almost divine, the motions and figures of the planets, the paths of comets, and the tides of the seas first demonstrated.

If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.
Letter to Robert Hooke

I know not what I appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell, whilest the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Quoted in D Brewster, Memoirs of Newton

Numero pondere et mensura Deus omnia condidit
God created everything by number, weight and measure.

I will not define time, space, place and motion, as being well known to all.
Principia Mathematica

I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses; for whatever is not deduced from the phenomena is to be called a hypothesis, and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy.

Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.

Are not gross bodies and light convertible into one another; and may not bodies receive much of their activity from the particles of light which enter into their composition? The changing of bodies into light, and light into bodies, is very conformable to the course of Nature, which seems delighted with transmutations.

In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence.
Quoted in Des MacHale, Wisdom (London, 2002).


JOC/EFR February 2006

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