This paper draws attention to the remarkable closing words of Isaac Newton's Optice (1706) and subsequent editions of the Opticks (1718, 1721), and tries to suggest why Newton chose to conclude his book with a puzzling allusion to his own unpublished conclusions about the history of religion. Newton suggests in this concluding passage that the bounds of moral philosophy will be enlarged as natural philosophy is ‘perfected’. Asking what Newton might have had in mind, the paper first considers the idea that he was foreshadowing the ‘moral Newtonianism’ developed later in the eighteenth century; then it considers the idea that he was perhaps pointing to developments in natural theology. Finally, the paper suggests that Newton wanted to at least signal the importance of attempting to recover the true original religion, and perhaps was hinting at his intention to publish his own extensive research on the history of the Church.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society.