chapter  6
The age of reason
Pages 20

Newton and Descartes Newton's laws and theories were the basis of physics in Britain well before the end of the seventeenth century. But on the Continent, and especially in France, the Cartesian system was still preferred. It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century that Voltaire (16941778) persuaded the French to accept Newtonian physical theory and Descartes was superseded. By the end of the century Newton dominated the field; he was thought to have discovered the fundamental laws of nature and his influence was such that the few astronomical observations that seemed to be incompatible with the predictions made by Newtonian physics were regarded as anomalies for which an explanation would ultimately be found.