Response to H. Floris Cohen's essay review on Newtonian scholarship

British Journal for the History of Science 52 (2):353-357 (2019)
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Abstract

Long ago, George Sarton set down criteria for reviewers. In addition to insisting on the need to compose ‘faithful’ reviews, he cautioned against four types of unfit reviewers: the ‘egoist’, the ‘obscure’ reviewer, the one who is noncommittal, and the pedantic critic. Unfortunately, Cohen's review comes short on several counts. Cohen writes that he intends to examine what is ‘new’ in the three books he reviews, and whether the results therein contained are ‘worth learning’. Cohen denies being given to ‘misplaced hero worship’, insisting that his sole aim is to assess whether ‘scholarly novelty’ has been attained. Nevertheless, given his repeated rebuke of the authors under review for ‘failing to refer back to [Richard] Westfall's work’ on Newton – now nearly half a century old – it seems that he grounded his critique principally on Westfall's interpretation.

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Never at Rest. A Biography of Isaac Newton.Richard S. Westfall & I. Bernard Cohen - 1982 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33 (3):305-315.

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