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Willem Jacob ’s Gravesande (1688-1742)

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Born : September 26, 1688 in ’s Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.

Died : February 28, 1742 in Leiden, Netherlands.

’s Gravesande was a practising lawyer and he is important as an exponent of ( Newton’s philosophy in Europe. His early education was at home with a private tutor. He then studied law at Leiden writing a doctoral thesis on suicide.

He practiced law at The Hague. Appointed as secretary to the Dutch Embassy, he was sent to England in 1715 to congratulate George I on has accession to the throne. While in London he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He got to know Newton, Desaguliers and John ( Keill at this time and, after returning to The Hague in 1716, he continued to correspond with Keill.

In 1717 ’s Gravesande became professor of mathematics and astronomy at Leiden. He became professor of philosophy at Leiden in 1734.

He taught and wrote many texts on Newtonian science and Keill’s contributions. Like Keill, he conducted physics experiments in his lectures. ’s Gravesande wrote textbooks on mathematics and philosophy. He also published and edited works of others, for example work by ( Huygens, ( Keill and ( Newton. ’s Gravesande’s book Mathematical Elements of Physics was very influential.


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