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Newton's laws of motion and their associated definitions encountered their first difficulty near the middle of the nineteenth century.

Newton had designed his theory to describe the behavior of matter in space and time by inventing a relationship between the force on a body and the resulting change in motion of the body. Such a description of nature came to be called mechanical, and a large part of physicists' efforts were directed toward reducing all aspects of physics to mechanics. These efforts were rewarded magnificently in the fields of heat, electricity, and sound, in addition to astronomy and other more obviously mechanical areas. But they were far short of success in describing the various phenomena of light. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XX: Meaning in the Physical Sciences. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.