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

    German Teachers’ Association criticizes participation of students in climate strike

    BerlinThe German Teachers' Association (DL) has criticized the participation of students in the climate strike of the "Fridays for Future" movement (FFF) on Friday. "We refuse that compulsory schooling is lifted in favor of political actions – for example as part of a so-called climate strike," said DL President Heinz-Peter Meidinger.

    Norway reclassifies Covid-19: No more dangerous than ordinary flu

    OsloCovid-19 is treated in the mass media as a very dangerous disease in the face of which mass vaccination and severe restrictions for the whole society are applauded despite few deaths beyond the risk groups. But in Norway, it has now been decided to treat it like other respiratory diseases, such as influenza or the cold virus, because according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health it is no longer more dangerous than these.

    Elysee denies malicious Telegraph article on giving up its UNSC seat

    ParisFrance has formally denied being ready to give the EU its seat on the UN Security Council. "The seat is ours and will remain so," said the Elysee, in response to an article in a British newspaper.

    UK newspaper: France could offer its UN permanent seat to EU

    ParisFrance's seat at the UN could be given to the European Union to promote the creation of an EU standing force after Australia made it clear that it would be pursuing nuclear technology for its submarines together with the US and UK.

    Italy: Nationwide house raids against vaccine opponents

    MilanThe Milan Public Prosecutor's Office has launched searches of anti-vaccination opponents in six Italian cities. Allegedly the members of the Telegram group "The Warriors" planned violent demonstrations against the Covid-19 policy of the Italian government.

    Orban offers Pope copy of 1250 letter in which a Hungarian king pleads for help against Tartar invasion

    BudapestDuring his visit to Budapest on Sunday to celebrate mass, Pope Francis met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose anti-migration policy in Hungary he does not share. The Pope received a copy of a letter reminding him why he should be more circumspect in his views.

    EMA: Almost a third of Covid vaccination side effects are severe

    BrusselsThe reported suspected side effects for the four Covid vaccines, which have only been conditionally approved in the EU, are record-breaking after just 8 months. Serious side effects have been reported.

    Breaking news: UK government drops Covid passport

    LondonIn the UK, Health Minister Sajid Javid has told the BBC that Covid passports will not be introduced in his country. When will European countries come to their senses?

    France: Thousands protest against ‘health pass’ for 9th weekend in a row

    ParisOn Saturday, demonstrators took to the streets in the French capital for the ninth consecutive weekend to express their displeasure with the health passport policy of the Macron administration. The protest quickly degenerated into clashes with the police.

    Key Dutch ministers in bed with the WEF

    The HagueAt the end of May, the Forum for Democracy led by Thierry Baudet, submitted a parliamentary question on the relations between cabinet members and Klaus Schwab's World Economic Forum. "We received evasive or even no answers to these questions," said Dutch MP Pepijn van Houwelingen.

    Go to archive