The Shadows of Totalization, Part XXXVII
I want to make a very simple point—really just an accent and emphasis of something I said in the last post.
Newton is the last great natural philosopher and the first great modern scientist.
In truth, however, we do not have great regard for Newton as natural philosopher--we prefer to see him strictly as the first great modern scientist. What's more, after Newton, anyone proceeding to do the work Newton is most famous for is considered a scientist or a mathematician--never as a natural philosopher.
Though work in natural philosophy had been an integral part of philosophy since Aristotle (and is especially important in Descartes, something I want to remark more upon later,) this kind of work is not done any further by philosophers. From Newton onwards, a philosopher who wants to do philosophy and mathematics or science, must “change hats” back and forth.
Newton was a philosopher-scientist. However, history for the most part has stripped out the philosopher (here I mean the comments in Newton which we contemporaries would recognize as philosophical. I’m not even yet beginning to talk about the huge amounts of Newton’s work which would be regarded as theological or beyond that just plain loony, weird, screwball, and misguided,) and at the same time sterilizes the physics so extracted in such a way that it cannot without special effort yield or re-fertilize new philosophy.
This is probably the most crucial deactivation of philosophical ethos in the last thousand years.
It murders pragmatic practice of philosophy.
Physics and mathematics goes on to have a spectacularly productive run, but it appears to me the continuation of this (physics and mathematics in their capacity as physics and mathematics—I’m not interested here in physics and mathematics as they “relate” to politics or society,) is in crisis unless it can again touch philosophy-science, "natural philosophy."