[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality (fwd)
Jim Choate wrote, regarding Newton:
>He certainly went to great pains to publish it, even anonymously in some
>cases and out of his own pocket.
Okay, just this one reply on this subject, Jim. Taken from "The World of
Mathematics", and article entitled "Newton, the Man", by John Maynard Keynes:
" His deepest instincts were occult, esoteric, semantic - with profound
shrinking from the world, a paralyzing fear of exposing his thoughts, his
beliefs, his discoveries in all nakedness to the inspection and criticism
of the world. 'Of the most fearful, cautious and suspicious temper that I
ever knew', said Whiston, his successor in the Lucasian Chair. The too
well-known conflicts and ignoble quarrels with Hooke, Flamsteed, Leibnitz
are only too clear an evidence of this. Like all his type he was wholly
aloof from women. He parted with and published nothing except under the
extreme pressure of friends. Until the second phase of his life, he was a
wrapt, consecrated solitary, pursuing his studies by intenese introspection
with a mental endurance perhaps never equalled.
There is the story of how he informed Halley of one of his most fundamental
discoveries of planetary motion. 'Yes', replied Halley, 'but how do you
know that? Have you proved it?' Newton was taken aback - 'Why, I've known
it for years', he replied. 'If you'll give me a few days, I'll certainly
find you a proof of it' - as in due course he did."