Isaac Newton and Astrology: witness for the Defence or for the Prosecution?

Author: van Gent, Robert H.
Abstract: Ever since times immemorial astrology has been a determining factor in the decisions and actions of men of all ranks and stations. At the beginning of the 17th century, great scientists as Tycho Brahe, Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepelr – now best remembered for their roles in the development of modern physics and astronomy – all held astrology in high esteem. At the end of the 17th century, however, the scientific community had completely turned away from astrology. For some it was the subject of derision, others preferred to ignore it completely – so, hardly a single word on astrology, either pro or contra, is to be found in the works of scientists as Christian Huygens (1629-1695) OR Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727). However, in the case of Newton, the astrological literature presents a different view and even claims that in secret Newton was an ardent student of astrology. As evidence the following anecdote is often quoted: when the astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742), famed for his comet, once spoke with derision on the subject of astrology Newton is said to have rebuked him with the remark: “Sir Halley, I have studied the matter, you have not!” How much significance may awe attach to such a testimony? The first questions that should be answered are: what is the source of this statement and what evidence is there that Newton ever “studied the matter”?
Keywords: Newton, Brahe, Galileo, Kepler Huygens, Halley
Publication: Correlation: Astrological Association Journal of Research Into Astrology
Issue: Volume 12 Issue 1
Dated: 1993
Pages: Pages 33 – 37

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