Saturday, January 29, 2011

Peter J. Leithart on the eight aspects of our Newtonization.
According to Heidegger’s essay on modern science, Newton’s theory of motion implied eight fundamental metaphysical shifts. First, because Newton’s theories applied to “every body,” the traditional distinction of heavenly and earthly bodies, and heavenly and earthy motion, “has become obsolete. . . . All natural bodies are essentially of the same kind.”
Finally, the nature of science changes, since with the change of the concept of nature, “the manner of questioning nature” also changes and even “becomes opposite.” Heidegger may be thinking here, for instance, of the difference between alchemy (which taps into “nature” as a hidden principle) as opposed to chemistry (which examines the changing positions of bodies in space and time).

Assuming that Heidegger is on to something (and I think he is), what is remarkable about this description is how completely we have been Newtonized.
He turned me into a newt, but I got better.
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