|Hutton, Charles Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary 1795|
KALENDAR. See Calendar.
KALENDS. See Calends.
, an eminent mathematician and philosopher, was born at Edinburgh in 1671, and studied in the university of that city. His genius leading him to the mathematics, he made a great progress under David Gregory the professor there, who was one of the first that had embraced and publicly taught the Newtonian philosophy. In 1694 he followed his tutor to Oxford, where, being admitted of Baliol College, he obtained one of the Scotch exhibitions in that college. It is said he was the first who taught Newton's principles by the experiments on which they are founded: and this it seems he did by an apparatus of instruments of his own providing; by which means he acquired a great reputation in the university. The first public specimen he gave of his skill in mathematical and philosophical knowledge, was his Examination of Dr. Burnet's Theory of the Earth; with Remarks on Mr. Whiston's New Theory; which appeared in 1698. These theories were defended by their respective authors; which drew from him, in 1699, An Examination of the Reflections on the Theory of the Earth, together with A Defence of the Remarks on Mr. Whiston's New Theory. Dr. Burnet was a man of great humanity, moderation, and candour; and it was therefore supposed that Keill had treated him too roughly, considering the great disparity of years between them. Keill however left the doctor in possession of that which has since been thought the great characteristic and excellence of his work; and though he disclaimed him as a philosopher, yet allowed him to be a man of a fine imagination. “Perhaps, says he, many of his readers will be sorry to be undeceived about his theory; for, as I believe never any book was fuller of mistakes and errors in philosophy, so none ever abounded with more beautiful scenes and surprising images of nature. But I write only to those who might expect to find a true philosophy in it: they who read it as an ingenious romance, will still be pleased with their entertainment.”
The year following, Dr. Millington, Sedleian professor of natural philosophy in Oxford, who had been appointed physician to king William, substituted Keill as his deputy, to read the lectures in the public school. This office he discharged with great reputation; and, the term of enjoying the Scotch exhibition at Baliolcollege now expiring, he accepted an invitation from Dr. Aldrich, dean of Christ-church, to reside there.
In 1701, he published his celebrated treatise, intitled, Introductio ad Veram Physicam, which is supposed to be the best and most ufeful of all his performances. The first edition of this book contained only fourteen lectures; but to the second, in 1705, he added two more. This work was deservedly esteemed, both at home and abroad, as the best introduction to the Principia, or the new mechanical philosophy, and was reprinted in different places; also a new edition in English was printed at London in 1736, at the instance of M. Maupertuis, who was then in England.
Being made Fellow of the Royal Society, he published, in the Philos. Trans. 1708, a paper on the Laws of Attraction, and its physical principles: and being offended at a passage in the Acta Eruditorum of Leipsic, where Newton's claim to the first invention of the me-