The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1607962403
ISBN-10: 1607962403
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Snowball Publishing (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607962403
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607962403
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

301 of 310 people found the following review helpful By Kevin T. Keith on May 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The explanatory material, publishers's notes, and most of the reviews above all refer to the Bernard Cohen translation and commentary (UC Berkeley Press, blue cover) - but they are attached to the Amazon listing for the Snowball Publishing edition (brownish cover), which is not the same thing at all!!

The entry for the Snowball edition - listed on Amazon discount for about $13 - clearly states that it is the Cohen translation with his commentaries. In fact, it is merely a cheap reproduction of some earlier edition of the standard Motte translation, with modernized spelling. It is the complete text of the (translated) Third Edition of the Principia, but with no other associated works by Newton and nothing by Cohen. Snowball does not even give the translator's name, either on the cover or in the front matter! The lithographic reproduction is readable but poor quality - with many broken characters and even edges of pages slightly cut off. This is a usable cheap edition of the well-known 1729 translation, but it is NOT the modern translation, as the Amazon listing explicitly states. (In fact, Amazon's "Search Inside This Book" feature, from the Snowball edition page, takes you to the search pages for the Cohen edition - a completely different, and much more expensive, book!)

I'm sure this was a good-faith error on Amazon's part, but it is completely misleading. Buyers should know what they are getting. If you are reading this on the page listing for the Snowball Publishing edition of the Principia, you aren't getting what they say you are. Be forewarned.
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185 of 200 people found the following review helpful By A.W. Ellermann on August 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Hi, folks. I suffered through college math all the way through differential equations, and I never really "got" it. I just memorized the steps and, when exam time rolled around, hoped I could remember which procedure went with which problem. The light finally came on in grad school, and _Principia_ was the switch. Reading the _Principia_ let me get underneath formal calculus and imbued it with a sense of wonder and soul. To see the theory set out step-by-step, to follow with Newton as he envisioned a new way of painting the world, gave me the ability to internalize the calculus, to say, finally, "Yes, that's intuitively right." I wish I'd read the _Principia_ much earlier in my education. It would have saved me a lot of pain.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By C. Morales on November 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've seen bad reviews for master works of science in the past. Mostly they claim these books are either not clear or impossible to understand. Don't buy this book for the purpose of learning Classical Mechanics or Calculus from it, but for the scientific curiosity of learning how the great Isaac Newton presented his revolutionary scientific ideas to the world. Of course, it is difficult to read. This is a translation of a book written in Latin more than 300 years ago!
This book is a jewel. Just like the original works of Einstein, Maxwell, Heisenberg, Schroedinger and all those giants. Many of the ideas presented in the book were written for the first time in history and probably they are not organized in a didactic form. The person buying this book should not expect to find a clear textbook when originally it was not written for the layman, but for the expert scientific community of its time. Buy this book, sit back, scan through it, and enjoy a true piece of history.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Ellman on July 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
From Kenneth Ellman, Newton, New Jersey 07860, ke@kennethellman.com
"I hope that, decades from now, when I and my other books have been forgotten, this will still be useful to scholars and students". So spoke Harvard University Professor I. Bernard Cohen some years before his death in 2003. His co-translator Anne Whitman had died in 1984. The translation and the extraordinary commentary is 974 pages long and took 15 years to complete. I have had this edition for many years and in reading it again I decided to write this review. I feel grateful to Cohen and Whitman for what they accomplished.

This particular edition by Cohen and Whitman of The Principia stands alone (as far as I know) in making one feel that a teacher, guide, and historian are holding your hand while exploring and understanding one of the most dramatic and powerful scientific and mathematical treatise ever written. I am surprised at some of the reviews here in that they seem to discuss the applicability or utilization of The Principia as a Physics or Math textbook. This is certainly not a textbook in the modern sense in any respect. This is not a book you would use to prepare for any normal Physics or Math examination. It must be kept in mind that this book by Newton was a human accomplishment and this particular edition with its extensive commentary by Cohen lets one be exposed to both the scientific rigor and social aspects of the world of Isaac Newton. And due to the fact of Newton's extraordinary scientific and mathematical accomplishment it caused historical alteration in the course of human events as does each great expansion of human knowledge.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By V. K. Lin on September 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful reference, but frankly, it was overwhelming for me. Let's just say that while the first two sections of this book were clear, informative, meticulously and thoroughly footnoted and annotated, the last section-- the actual translation-- proved beyond my abilities. I'd HIGHLY recommend a college-level geometry course before attempting to read the actual translation of Newton's revolutionary work.

Frankly, the combination of archaic verbiage (Cohen kept a number of obsolescent terms in translating from the original Latin), combined with a predominately narrative style (reading in an entire paragraph what can in modern mathematical symbology be articulated in a single line) combined with my lack of working analytic geometry enabled me to follow this seminal work conceptually, but not in detail. Other reviwers have suggested that a working knowledge of calculus and Newtonian physics is required. I disagree. To follow Newton's proofs in detail, it is Euclidean geometry that is required. Newton's Principia CONCEPTUALLY utilizes calculus, but the proofs themselves are Euclidean with the concept of "infinitisimally small" added to the equation. I have single- and multi-variable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations (first-, second-order, and partial), and graduate-level statistics under my belt. Junior high school geometry is insufficient to understand his work. So far, I am studying tensors, differential geometry/exterior calculus with respect to gravitation physics without too much difficuly. Geometry!

Otherwise, this book was wonderful. Section One is a thoroughly researched historical background. Social setting, scientific thought at the time, the controversies of the times, historical perspective, insights into Newton himself.
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