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Happy Newtonmas

Last updated on 22 Jun 2018

Isaac Newton was born on the 25th of December (under the old Calendar; in our calendar he was born on 4 January, but ignore that for this post). In a wonderful marriage of good scholarship and computers (often a very bad arrangement), Cambridge University Library’s Digital Library project has digitised some of Isaac’s notebooks and manuscripts. This one is his Trinity College Notebook, which he wrote as an undergraduate. Of interest to me, given that I am about to publish a chapter in a book (in Portuguese!) on the use of tree diagrams and thinking, is his version of the Arbor Porphyriana (Tree of Porphyry) used for generations to teach Aristotle’s logical division, or diaeresis:

Document image5

Logical trees are a very old way of representing classifications of ideas by division; we would call them subsets today.


  1. Raving Raving

    Perception! yum … Newton certainly knows how to cut it
    (must read very carefully and sleep on it) geometry ? novelty

    Th?nk you

  2. I recognise that diagram! Another blog I read included the same scanned page in a post published earlier this month. I have no point beyond just sharing the joy of unexpected recognition.

  3. Bob O'H Bob O'H

    Ooh! Newton’s tree even has baubles on it.

    BTW, isn’t explaining Newton’s theological views a great way of trolling gnu atheists who call today Newtonmass?

    Oh and happy boxing day!

  4. Newton may well have been the greatest and most important scientist of all time. And he was religious too, so I suppose we should put that one down for the accomodationists.

    I’m happy to be celebrating Newtonmas.

    May the mass x acceleration be with you.

    • And he was religious too…

      Newton was not merely religious he was a fundamentalist religious fanatic who seriously believed that he, and he alone, had been chosen by God to reveal the truths of nature. Definitely not an accomodationist.

  5. Mauro Mello Jr. Mauro Mello Jr.

    Prezado João S. Wilkins,

    Qual é o título do livro em português?

    Seriously, what’s the title of the book you’re writing the chapter on tree diagrams and thinking? Any working papers? Any work-in-progress we Portuguese-speaking people could peruse ahead of the others? Any scraps? Anything at all?

    When will it be published?

    Feliz Natal, Feliz Newtonmas

    • Pombo, O. and Pina, M. (edrs) Em Torno de Darwin. Lisboa: Fim de Século (in press).

      As to publication, sometime this coming year. I have nothing online, sorry.

  6. Verena Ziegler Verena Ziegler

    Have you published something by now? Happy to read about tree diagrams and thinking.
    Warm regards, Verena

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