Isaac Newton formulated his ideas on space and the universe during his early years at Cambridge in response to René Descartes's 1644 publication Principles of Philosophy. Sometime between 1666 and 1668, in an unpublished manuscript that we refer to by its opening words, De gravitatione, Newton wrote that an “infinite and eternal” divine power coexists with space, which “extends infinitely in all directions” and “is eternal in duration.” Descartes claimed that where there is no matter there can be no space; on the contrary, argued Newton, space, by virtue of omnipresent spirit, exists where there is no matter. Descartes claimed that matter extends indefinitely; on the contrary, argued Newton, God has created in infinite space a material system of finite extent.

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