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Contents:
  1. Questions?
  2. John Banville
  3. 7 editions of this work
  4. Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer by Michael White, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Thus, Newton's alleged mental breakdown evidenced by two strange letters written within a four-month period in a lifetime spanning eighty-five years is combined with his alchemical interests to suggest an excursion into black magic. Or, more bizarrely, White rejects Newton's claim that his insight into a gravitational force came when he saw fruit fall from a tree whilst he was meditating in his mother's apple orchard.

According to Mr White, Newton fabricated the story later in life to disguise the fact that "much of his inspiration for the theory of gravity came from his subsequent alchemical work". But just how Newton's alchemical work was the source of his ideas, White never actually explains.

Questions?

White, in the fashion of modern biographers, interprets limited evidence to speculate on Newton's personality, and he uses pop-psychology to discover the necessary shaping childhood trauma. He discusses Newton's possible sexual orientation as if this were essential to Newton's major work, and he claims that what he is doing is "demystifying truths that have long been veiled in secrecy". In the end, it is possible only to conclude that White's "truths" are, in Newton's terms "mere hypotheses", drawn from that "no-man's land between imagination and understanding" that White assures us is "the natural home of the biographer".

Sadly, this book fails to fulfil its promise to show just why John Maynard Keynes, after studying Newton's alchemical papers, called him "the last of the magicians"; or to show just how important alchemy was in shaping Newton's science.

John Banville

Discuss in the Eclectica Forum! Eventually Queen Anne put a stop to the religious spectacle by putting the organizers of the French Prophets on trial. The court sentenced Fatio and another leader to stand two successive days in the pillory at Charing Cross, where they wore a note detailing their crimes. In any case, the French Prophet movement inspired later millenarian groups.

Ann Lee absorbed their beliefs to start her own sect known as the Shakers.

7 editions of this work

Newton publicly disavowed any connection, to Camisard beliefs, but he was privately attracted. White quotes a book published in by Reverend Joseph Spence, who offered two reports connecting Newton with the Camisards. The first, from a letter by a Dr Lockier, declared:. It is not at all improbable that Sir Isaac Newton, though so great a man, might have had a hankering after the French Prophets.

Sir Isaac Newton himself had a strong inclination to go and hear these prophets, and was restrained from it, with difficulty, by some of his friends, who feared he might become infected by them as Fatio had been. He kept an elaborate lab with equipment suited for alchemical experimentation.

Alchemists at the time held a tenuous but powerful reputation among the elite of Europe and England while operating primarily as an underground clique.

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Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer by Michael White, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

White points to some evidence that Newton maintained clandestine contact with some members of this clique. Both government and religion suppressed alchemy. The former wished to prevent social uprising and the nontaxable manifestation of gold from lead no matter that the reality was nothing more than rank rumor. The latter would prevent the heresy that man might attain supernatural powers by his own devices, or worse, make a pact with the devil.

Newton apparently took the myths seriously. At the time, society regarded chemists or apothecaries as little more than common tradesmen. There was little to distinguish quackery from good medicine—chemistry as science was quite primitive. As a young boy, Newton had access to an apothecary shop where he experimented with dyes and nostrums, or medicines. He was something of a hypochondriac throughout his life, devising any number of potions to treat disease. The apothecary experience directly influenced his later attraction to alchemy and its attendant philosophy.

The Dark Sides Of Sir Isaac Newton - An alchemist & A Magician - His Prediction On End Of This World

Through his dedication to empirical science, Newton the adult managed to avoid the pitfalls of a life dedicated to alchemy. Others were not so careful or wise, White tells us:. Most alchemists were either born poor and acquired money temporarily from gullible but wealthy noblemen or successful merchants, or else they were born wealthy and gradually frittered away their inheritance in ill-conceived alchemical experiments, led along the path to ruin by one sacred text or another. History and evolution do not deter gullibility and obsession.

Newton noted these qualities with keen insight when he was formulating the law of gravity.


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Did the occult inspire his math? It would seem so, according to White.


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It would not be the first or last time that a scientist arrived at a solution through mystical experience. However, it is a serious mistake, in my view, to attribute the solution to a transcendent, nonhuman source—there is no evidence to support that notion. We should thank the Fates that Newton did not succumb to heavy-metal toxins absorbed from his crucible.

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Was Newton the last sorcerer? He certainly was not the last great man of science to believe in metaphysical powers of the mind. One example was Nobel Prize winner in physics Bryan Josephson. In a letter that appeared in New Scientist December 4, p. Apparently, we still have sorcerers among us if you care to believe them. Persinger, Norm and J. Search this site.