2 NEWTON’S LAWS-THE FOUNDATIONS OF NEWTONIAN MECHANICS
Our aim in this chapter is to understand Newton’s laws of motion. From one point of view this is a modest task: Newton’s laws are simple to state and involve little mathematical complexity. Their simplicity is deceptive, however. As we shall see, they combine definitions, observations from nature, partly intuitive concepts, and some unexamined assumptions on the properties of space and time. Newton’s statement of the laws of motion left many of these points unclear. It was not until two hundred years after Newton that the foundations of classical mechanics were carefully examined, principally by Ernst Mach, 1 and our treatment is very much in the spirit of Mach.