This paper explores Wallis's role as editor of Newton's mathematical work. My objective is to understand how two mathematicians who held different views concerning mathematical method could nonetheless cooperate with one another quite effectively. Most notably, Wallis and Newton pursued different policies as far as the printing of algebra is concerned. In the 1690s Newton held the view that algebra is a heuristic method ‘not worthy of publication’. Wallis, instead, for all his life was keen on making algebraic methods explicit in print. As the analysis of the correspondence between Wallis, Collins and Newton reveals, the methodological tension between Wallis and Newton was resolved in such a way that Newton agreed to print his heuristic methods in Wallis's English Algebra (1685) and Latin Opera (1693–99). Newton wished to guarantee his priority rights on discoveries in algebra and calculus, yet he also sought to avoid any tight authorial commitment towards them. Wallis, in contrast, received from Newton material that turned out to be useful for the fulfilment of a nationalistic programme aimed at eulogizing British mathematicians as well as his own work.

John Wallis as editor of Newton’s mathematical work / N. Guicciardini. - In: NOTES AND RECORDS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON. - ISSN 0035-9149. - 66:1(2012), pp. 3-17.

John Wallis as editor of Newton’s mathematical work

N. Guicciardini
2012

Abstract

This paper explores Wallis's role as editor of Newton's mathematical work. My objective is to understand how two mathematicians who held different views concerning mathematical method could nonetheless cooperate with one another quite effectively. Most notably, Wallis and Newton pursued different policies as far as the printing of algebra is concerned. In the 1690s Newton held the view that algebra is a heuristic method ‘not worthy of publication’. Wallis, instead, for all his life was keen on making algebraic methods explicit in print. As the analysis of the correspondence between Wallis, Collins and Newton reveals, the methodological tension between Wallis and Newton was resolved in such a way that Newton agreed to print his heuristic methods in Wallis's English Algebra (1685) and Latin Opera (1693–99). Newton wished to guarantee his priority rights on discoveries in algebra and calculus, yet he also sought to avoid any tight authorial commitment towards them. Wallis, in contrast, received from Newton material that turned out to be useful for the fulfilment of a nationalistic programme aimed at eulogizing British mathematicians as well as his own work.
John Wallis; Isaac Newton; correspondence; mathematical method
Settore M-STO/05 - Storia della Scienza e delle Tecniche
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/615628
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