Who invented potential and kinetic energy ?

Was it Newton ? Or someone else ?

I have the impression Newton used those ideas but they already existed.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ See hsm.stackexchange.com/questions/414/… $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2014 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ Semi-related meta discussion. @AlexandreEremenko I think you're right; it's a duplicate. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Nov 16, 2014 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Downvote and duplicate ; so I remove. $\endgroup$
    – mick
    Nov 16, 2014 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ I cant remove , So why does it have downvotes ? $\endgroup$
    – mick
    Nov 16, 2014 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ I think people may have downvoted because it seems like a duplicate. I don't think it's a bad question. I advise you to keep it open for now. It might be re-opened later. By the way, you might want to change 'invented' in the title. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Nov 16, 2014 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


In a way, it goes back to Aristotle and his dual concepts of actuality and potentiality. My quick description of them is as follows:

  • Potentiality: Potentiality, or dunamis, is the stored ability an object has to do something or be something.
  • Actuality: Actuality, or entelecheia/energeia, is what an object is doing or is at a point in time.

Now, these had broader definitions than the ones we use to day for potential and kinetic energy. For example, according to Aristotle, the potentiality of an object included all the forms it could take (e.g. clay could become a sculpture).

These are clearly not the same things as today's notions of kinetic and potential energy, but they were the precursors to our modern ideas.


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