Hypotheses non fingo (Latin for "I frame no hypotheses", or "I contrive no hypotheses") is a phrase used by Isaac Newton in an essay, "General Scholium", which was appended to the second (1713) edition of the Principia.

Original remark

A 1999 translation of the Principia presents Newton's remark as follows:

I have not as yet been able to discover the reason for these properties of gravity from phenomena, and I do not feign hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction.[1]

Later commentary

The 19th-century philosopher of science William Whewell qualified this statement, saying that, "it was by such a use of hypotheses, that both Newton himself and Kepler, on whose discoveries those of Newton were based, made their discoveries". Whewell stated:

What is requisite is, that the hypothesis should be close to the facts, and not connected with them by other arbitrary and untried facts; and that the philosopher should be ready to resign it as soon as the facts refuse to confirm it.[2]

Later, Imre Lakatos asserted that such a resignation should not be too rushed.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Isaac Newton (1726). Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, General Scholium. Third edition, page 943 of I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman's 1999 translation, University of California Press ISBN 0-520-08817-4, 974 pages.
  2. ^ Whewell, William (1840). The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences. London. p. 438.