Newton, the Inaccessible Essence of Bodies, Theological Voluntarism and the Laws of Nature

  • Matjaž Vesel Znanstvenoraziskovalni center Slovenske akademije znanosti in umetnosti, Filozofski inštitut
Keywords: Newton, inaccessible nature of the body, theological voluntarism, laws of nature


Isaac Newton affirms on several occasions that human understanding cannot reach the essence of bodies. The article seeks to answer the question of why we cannot reach their essence either through our reflection or our senses, which confines our cognition to their appearances. I argue that the answer to this problem lies in Newton’s theological voluntarism, which he fully developed for the first time and explicitly in relation to the problem of the nature of bodies in his manuscript De gravitatione. Newton’s God could create beings (entia) similar to bodies, which display all their actions and exhibit all their phenomena, and yet they would not be bodies in their essential and metaphysical constitution. Newton’s theological voluntarism has other important epistemological consequences, such as God’s ability to freely change the laws of nature according to his will.


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How to Cite
Vesel M. Newton, the Inaccessible Essence of Bodies, Theological Voluntarism and the Laws of Nature. FV [Internet]. 2020Dec.31 [cited 2021Apr.15];41(3). Available from: