What is Newton’s concept of absolute space?



I’m currently reading an excerpt from the first book of the Principia, and I’m having particular difficulty with Newton’s concept of place. Relative place makes sense, but I’m not sure I understand what he considers absolute place to be? He defines it as places “without reference to anything external” but then refers to places that are “given positions in relation to one another” as examples of absolute space?

In: Physics

You may be having this problem understanding it because you’ve grown up in a world that has known Newton was totally wrong about this for several generations now. Relativity and quantum mechanics are familiar to you, and the complexities that come with them.

Throw out this complexities and think of the universe like a five year old. The entire universe, for Newton, was literally how a five year old sees their house. It is stable, unchanging, objective, and knowable. A clockwork universe. If you know the gears, you know where everything is going. It was a primitive view of how things worked.

Think like a man who had nothing but math to figure EVERYTHING out on his own. He got some things wrong. How he got them wrong was how a math genius would get it wrong: he thought everything was set.

Now we know everything is relative and nothing is clockwork. It’s all quantum probability.