The `Analyst' Controversy: Index of Papers

A number of pamphlets and other writings relevant to the Analyst controversy are available here, and are listed below under the following headings:

Isaac Newton

The following texts by Isaac Newton, from the Principia and elsewhere, are particularly relevant to the Analyst controversy:

George Berkeley

In 1734, George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, in Ireland, published The Analyst; or a Discourse Addressed to an Infidel Mathematician. Wherein it is examined whether the Object, Principles and Inferences of the modern Analysis are more distinctly conceived, or more evidently deduced, than Religious Mysteries and Points of Faith. As is apparent from the title, Berkeley was motivated by more than simply a concern for the soundness of the mathematical methods then in vogue. Nevertheless he developed his argument by criticising certain passages to be found in the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica and the Introductio ad Quadraturum Curvarum of Isaac Newton, and in the Analyse des infiniment petits pour l'intelligence des lignes courbes of the Marquis de l'Hôpital. Berkeley subsequently published a number of other works arising out of the controversy generated by the Analyst, replying to responses by `Philalethes Cantabrigiensis' [James Jurin] and Jacob Walton.

The following texts are available here:

Berkeley's parting shot took the form of a footnote in Siris

James Jurin

The first to respond to Berkeley's Analyst was James Jurin, who wrote under the pseudonym of `Philalethes Cantabrigiensis'. Jurin had for a time been Secretary of the Royal Society, and was a noted physician in London.

The following responses to Berkeley are available here:

The differing approaches taken by James Jurin and Benjamin Robins in their respective defences of the methods of Isaac Newton subsequently gave rise to a controversy between Robins and Jurin, conducted in the pages of The Present State of the Republick of Letters.

Jacob Walton

Another who responded to Berkeley's Analyst was the Dublin-based mathematician Jacob Walton. Very little is known about Walton; some information about him is however to be found in the following article:

Wallis, Ruth, `Who was J. Walton, adversary of Bishop Berkeley?', Annals of science 51 (1994), 539-540.

The following responses to Berkeley are available here:

Benjamin Robins

Benjamin Robins wrote what is perhaps the most thorough and well-written response to Berkeley, with the exception of Colin Maclaurin's two-volume Treatise of Fluxions.

Works of Robins are available here include the following:

The Robins-Jurin Controversy

Benjamin Robins and James Jurin differed considerably in their interpretation of certain passages in the works of Sir Isaac Newton. These differences were discussed in the pages of The Present State of the Republick of Letters in the years 1735 and 1736. (The dispute was continued between James Jurin and Henry Pemberton, in December 1836 and in 1837.)

The following contributions to this controversy are available here:


David R. Wilkins
School of Mathematics
Trinity College, Dublin