Skip to Content

Newton's own copy of his Principia, with hand-written corrections for the second edition, in the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge. Wikipedia
Sheffield

Isaac Newton becomes the latest victim of ‘decolonisation’

Sir Isaac Newton's historical legacy amounts to “colonial-era activity” and must be scrapped to “decolonise” the engineering curriculum at Sheffield University in the UK.

Published: May 2, 2021, 9:54 am

    Read more

    Newton, who lived until 1727, laid the foundations of modern science with his theory of gravity as well as theories on light, time, colour and calculus. Newton is the latest historical figure to succumb to a drive to “decolonise” campuses, which has intensified in the wake of Black Lives Matter riots.

    In his work Principia, Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation. He used his mathematical description of gravity to derive Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, account for tides, the trajectories of comets, the precession of the equinoxes and other phenomena, eradicating all doubt about the Solar System’s heliocentricity. In fact, his equation for universal gravitation, written in 1666 when he was 23, ended more than a thousand years of Aristotelian thinking.

    But Newton’s three laws of motion, the core of modern physics, must now give way to the “global origins and historical context” of his theories. The engineering faculty plans to “challenge long-standing conscious and unconscious biases” among students to tackle “Eurocentric” and “white saviour” approaches to science and maths, and promote “inclusive design”.

    A leaked copy of the “draft inclusive curriculum development” obtained the the London weekly, Sunday Telegraph stated that “much important engineering content and curriculum resources is based on maths developed in the 18/19th century” while pioneering scientists including Paul Dirac, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Newton, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz “could be considered as benefiting from colonial era activity”.

    It is not clear how Newton benefited from colonialism. He held shares in the South Sea Company that traded in slaves but he lost £20 000 – a fortune at the time – after the company ran into financial difficulties.

    His biographer James Gleick, commented on the drive to eradicate his contribution: “Whether Newton’s foolish investment in South Sea shares in 1720 means that he participated in the slave trade is arguable. I would say that all England benefited from colonialism.”

    The “decolonisation” drive is not new. Last month, an Oxford professor denounced musical notation as “colonialist” in order to challenge the “complicity in white supremacy” of composers such as Mozart and Beethoven.

    According to a consultant who runs diversity workshops at multiple top universities in Britain, the decolonisation drive is shifting from humanities courses to sciences.  He told The Telegraph that the sector was being “captured” by “critical race theory in all but name”.

    The diversity officer admitted that these measures aimed at “decolonising” science were not about equality, diversity and inclusion. “This is something different altogether. It is blatantly teaching people to be activists.” Prof Frank Furedi, a sociologist at Kent University, agreed. “It’s a way of socialising students into feeling that something is wrong with their own background, the life of their ancestors and inducing guilt.”

    A Sheffield spokesman said: “Decolonising the curriculum is an ongoing process which prompts us to incorporate historically marginalised or suppressed knowledge into all disciplines … so all our students have the opportunity to see themselves reflected in what they are being taught.”

    But introducing “wokeism” to science, evokes the famous quote by Newton: “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    In Hungary there are more vaccines than people wanting them

    BudapestAt the end of April, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that there were now more vaccines available than people wanting them. Hungary is the only such state in Europe.

    Another jihadist deemed ‘criminally irresponsible’ for professor’s murder

    ParisA former student, of Pakistani origin, had fatally stabbed this teacher in front of the Leonardo da Vinci university in the suburbs of the city of Paris in December 2018.

    Swiss town finds new solution against beggars

    BaselThe city of Basel offers a travel voucher to beggars who, in exchange, undertake not to return to the city for at least a certain period of time under penalty of permanent expulsion from the country.

    Rambouillet terrorist was regularized without any scrutiny

    RambouilletIn the wake of the murder of Samuel Paty, the Tunisian jihadist involved in the Rambouillet beheading wrote on Facebook: “O Muslims, now we will respond to the insults from France.” Two months later, he obtained his residence permit.

    Left-wing German politician exposed as possible link to hammer gang

    KasselWith its special edition “Antifa - The underground leftist power”, COMPACT, a conservative German magazine has stirred up a hornets' nest. A left-wing politician even wants to have journalistic research banned.

    Nigerian mafia groups have infiltrated Germany

    BerlinA confidential report by the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), revealed how the Nigerian mafia has taken root to establish itself in Germany through the influx of migrants. There are now several different Mafia groups operating in Germany.

    Is Pfizer immune to competition?

    BrusselsWith the dominant position the EU has granted to Pfizer, in particular by ruling out the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, it is once again proving that its rules are of variable geometry because European treaties outlaw monopolies.

    The Sarah Halimi affair: Killing the victim twice

    ParisThe lack of commitment on the left in the Sarah Halimi affair in France, has deeply shocked many. The murderer of Sarah Halimi, Kobili Traoré, will not be tried for his crime, according to his judges. But the victim is also being killed for a second time by silence.

    Challenges for the Arctic

    MoscowThe Arctic region is facing demographic decline and climate challenges and beyond that, economic value creation through Arctic technologies and innovations which are dependent on a transforming geopolitical context.

    ‘CIA company’s’ surveillance software used by German police

    In the shadow of the Corona crisis, the surveillance state in Germany is being systematically expanded. The controversial Palantir software, which was also created with funds from the CIA, has once again attracted negative attention. The monitoring software is already being used by the state police in Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

    Go to archive