What is it about?
This article clarifies the contribution of José Celestino Mutis' (1761-1808) to the dissemination of Newtonian physics in South America during the colonial period. The article distinguishes between Enlightenment and Newtonianism, in order to specify Mutis' peculiar view of Newton, not restricted to the Botanic endeavours, but encompassing his achievements in mathematics and education. At the same time, the article shows that Mutis' reading of Newton's work is informed by a variety of other European Newtonians, particularly of Dutch and French origins.
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Why is it important?
The article is important because it assesses Mutis' appropriation of Newton by avoiding nationalist and anachronistic views, dominant in the historiography of colonial science. At the same time, the article depicts a complex and rich background to Mutis' appropriation of Newton by identifying for the first time Mutis' manuscript translations of Dutch and French works. Instead of focusing on the pictures and vicissitudes of the Royal Botanic Expedition, this paper locates Mutis' botanical researches in the context of his general appropriation of Newton's experimental physics.
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This page is a summary of: José Celestino Mutis’ appropriation of Newton’s experimental physics in New Granada (1761–1808), History of Science, March 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0073275319827203.
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