Hylarie Kochiras

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2011/2012
discipline Philosophy

Research project

Newton and the Transition from Natural Philosophy to Science


The transition from natural philosophy to science was by no means a smooth, linear process, as the early modern thinkers effecting the change typically combined their innovative ideas with remnants from earlier conceptual schemes. Isaac Newton was no exception. Although his pivotal role in the transition is assured by his experimental and quantitative methods, together with the theories they produced, he often invokes more traditional, inherited ideas. His treatment of the gravitational force suggests two quite different causal concepts, for instance, one more innovative, but another drawn from medieval thought. And some of Newton’s related remarks imply that the material world is not a closed system—a view contrasting starkly with that of the scientists who eventually succeeded him.


My research will investigate Newton’s role in the transition from natural philosophy to science by explicating the relationships and tensions among his multiple concepts of matter, activity, causation, and

natural law. Does Newton expect that ultimately, understanding nature’s processes will depend more upon the traditional, inherited concepts than upon the innovative ones; this is a guiding hypothesis to be investigated throughout the research.



Hylarie Kochiras holds a MA and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her area of specialization is Early Modern Philosophy of Science, with an emphasis on the thought of Isaac Newton. She was Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, from 2010 to 2011; and visiting Assistant Professor at the Philosophy Department, University at Buffalo, 2008/2010.

Selected publications


'Newton and the Mechanical Philosophy: Gravitation as the Balance of the Heavens', with P. Machamer and J.E. McGuire, 50th anniversary issue on Newton and Newtonianism, Southern Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming).


'Spiritual Presence and Dimensional Space beyond the Cosmos', Intellectual History Review, vol. 22, no. 1, 2012, pp. 41–68. 


'Gravity’s Cause and Substance Counting: Contextualizing the Problems', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, vol. 42, no. 1March 2011, pp. 167-184. 


'Gravity and Newton’s Substance Counting Problem', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, vol. 40, no. 3, September, 2009, pp. 267-280. 


'Locke’s Philosophy of Science', in E.N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2009.


'Freud Said—Or Simon Says? Informed Consent and the Advancement of Psychoanalysis as a Science', Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, vol. 9, July 2006, pp. 227-241.


'Belief Contexts and Epistemic Possibility', Principia, an international journal of epistemology, vol. 10, no. 1, June 2006, pp. 1-20.


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
discipline Art History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
discipline Ethnology