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Response to H. Floris Cohen's essay review on Newtonian scholarship

  • Mordechai Feingold (a1)

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Long ago, George Sarton set down criteria for reviewers. In addition to insisting on the need to compose ‘faithful’ reviews, he cautioned against four types of unfit reviewers: the ‘egoist’, the ‘obscure’ reviewer, the one who is noncommittal, and the pedantic critic. Unfortunately, Cohen's review comes short on several counts. Cohen writes that he intends to examine what is ‘new’ in the three books he reviews, and whether the results therein contained are ‘worth learning’ (p. 687). Cohen denies being given to ‘misplaced hero worship’, insisting that his sole aim is to assess whether ‘scholarly novelty’ (p. 693) has been attained. Nevertheless, given his repeated rebuke of the authors under review for ‘failing to refer back to [Richard] Westfall's work’ on Newton – now nearly half a century old – it seems that he grounded his critique principally on Westfall's interpretation.

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References

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1 Feingold, Mordechai, ‘The religion of the young Isaac Newton’, Annals of Science (2018), pp. 19. https://doi.org/10.1080/00033790.2018.1549686.

2 Newman, William R., ‘Newton's reputation as an alchemist and the tradition of chymiatria’, in Boran, Elizabethanne and Feingold, Mordechai (eds.), Reading Newton in Early Modern Europe, Leiden: Brill, 2017, pp. 313327.

3 Cohen, H. Floris, How Modern Science Came into the World, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010, p. 716.

4 Westfall, Richard S., Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980, p. viii.

5 Westfall, op. cit. (4), p. 815.

6 Buchwald, Jed Z. and Feingold, Mordechai, Newton and the Origin of Civilization, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013, pp. 127128.

Response to H. Floris Cohen's essay review on Newtonian scholarship

  • Mordechai Feingold (a1)

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