The European birth of modern science: an exercise in macro and comparative history Content Type Journal Article Category Essay Review Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9645-6 Authors John A. Schuster, Unit for History and Philosophy of Science and Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Possibly the most comprehensive collection of essays on Descartes' scientific writings ever published, this volume offers a detailed reassessment of his scientific work and its bearing on his philosophy. The 35 essays, written by some of the world's leading scholars, cover topics as diverse as optics, cosmology and medicine. The collection looks at Descartes' work in the sciences as an aspect of his natural-philosophical agenda and discusses: the central place of medicine in Descartes' overall project; the connections between his investigations (...) of specific psychological capacities and his ethics of self-government; and the debates and controversies into which he had his followers were drawn, and their role in shaping Cartesian natural philosophy; and other issues. Contributors: Peter Anstey, Jean-Robert Armogathe, Gordon Baker, David Behan, Annie Bitbol-Hespe;riès, Desmond Clarke, Betsy Decyk, Dennis Des Chene, Ve;ronique Fóti, Daniel Garber, Stephen Gaukroger, Peter Harrison, Gary Hatfield, Trevor McClaughlin, Peter McLaughlin, Katherine Morris, Alberto Guillermo, Timothy Reiss, Peter Schouls, JohnSchuster, Dennis Sepper, Peter Slezak, John Sutton, Yashiko Tomida, Klaas van Berkel, Theo Verbeek, Catherine Wilson, Celia Wolf-Devine, John Wright, John Yolton. (shrink)
One of the chief concerns of the young Descartes was with what he, and others, termed “physico-mathematics”. This signalled a questioning of the Scholastic Aristotelian view of the mixed mathematical sciences as subordinate to natural philosophy, non explanatory, and merely instrumental. Somehow, the mixed mathematical disciplines were now to become intimately related to natural philosophical issues of matter and cause. That is, they were to become more ’physicalised’, more closely intertwined with natural philosophising, regardless of which species of natural philosophy (...) one advocated. A curious, short-lived yet portentous epistemological conceit lay at the core of Descartes’ physico-mathematics—the belief that solid geometrical results in the mixed mathematical sciences literally offered windows into the realm of natural philosophical causation—that in such cases one could literally “see the causes”. Optics took pride of place within Descartes’ physico-mathematics project, because he believed it offered unique possibilities for the successful vision of causes. This paper traces Descartes’ early physico-mathematical program in optics, its origins, pitfalls and its successes, which were crucial in providing Descartes resources for his later work in systematic natural philosophy. It explores how Descartes exploited his discovery of the law of refraction of light—an achievement well within the bounds of traditional mixed mathematical optics—in order to derive—in the manner of physico-mathematics—causal knowledge about light, and indeed insight about the principles of a “dynamics” that would provide the laws of corpuscular motion and tendency to motion in his natural philosophical system. (shrink)
Altruism and cooperation are explained as learned behaviors arising from a pattern of repeated acts whose acquired value outweighs the short-term gains following single acts. But animals and young children, tempted by immediate gains, have difficulty learning behaviors of self-control. An alternative source of reinforcement, shared by animals and humans, arises from social interaction that normally accompanies cooperation and altruism in nature.
The form of nominalism known as 'mathematical fictionalism' is examined and found wanting, mainly on grounds that go back to an early antinominalist work of Rudolf Carnap that has unfortunately not been paid sufficient attention by more recent writers.
In the early decades of the seventeenth century, various attempts were made to develop a dynamical vocabulary on the basis of work in the practical mathematical disciplines, particularly statics and hydrostatics. The paper contrasts the Mechanica and Archimedean approaches, and within the latter compares conceptions of statics and hydrostatics and their possible extensions in the work of Stevin, Beeckman and Descartes. Descartes' approach to hydrostatics, a discussion of which forms the core of the paper, is shown to be quite different (...) from that of his contemporaries, above all in its attempt to provide a natural-philosophical grounding for hydrostatics while at the same time using it to develop a range of concepts, approaches and ways of thinking through problems that would shape Descartes' mature work in optics and cosmology. (shrink)
Working in the weakening of constructive Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory in which the subset collection scheme is omitted, we show that the binary re.nement principle implies all the instances of the exponentiation axiom in which the basis is a discrete set. In particular binary re.nement implies that the class of detachable subsets of a set form a set. Binary re.nement was originally extracted from the fullness axiom, an equivalent of subset collection, as a principle that was su.cient to prove that the (...) Dedekind reals form a set. Here we show that the Cauchy reals also form a set. More generally, binary refinement ensures that one remains in the realm of sets when one starts from discrete sets and one applies the operations of exponentiation and binary product a finite number of times. (shrink)
Darwin’s insight that species are mutable, and descent, and origin by means of natural selection is one of the most widely acknowledged strategies for the origin of species and their survival in nature. In his famous contribution, however, Darwin also writes that he is convinced that “... Natural Selection has been the main but not exclusive means of modification ” (Darwin in The origin of species. Oxford Univeristy Press, Oxford, p. 7, 1996 ). This research suggests robustness as another fundamental (...) strategy for survival in nature. The paper does not contradict the popular view, which usually sees robustness as a feature making systems fault-tolerant, thereby focusing on the identification of strategies and techniques for making systems robust (i.e., how to achieve robustness). The paper rather extends this view with an interpretation resting on the question—WHY is robustness omnipresent in the world around us? From this point of view, robustness is interpreted as a fundamental mechanism that is in place because of another fundamental feature in nature—the design and use of sub-optimal systems. The paper argues that, in a sense, nature under-specifies systems but compensates for this by providing systems with various degrees of robustness. We believe that this interpretation may lead to fundamentally new design approaches and insights in several fields. (shrink)
At the close of this psychotherapeutic century, an alternative to psychotherapy has begun to emerge: the use of philosophy as guidance in order to ameliorate everyday life situations. This new approach to so?called psychological problems, consisting of various forms of open?ended dialogue and reflection on life, may prevent or resolve many of the ?illnesses? for which people seek psychiatric or psychological treatment. If successful, philosophical counseling would mark not only a radical shift in the direction of psychological care, but a (...) radical return to the original, practical purposes of philosophy. (shrink)
The existence and uniqueness of a maximum point for a continuous real—valued function on a metric space are investigated constructively. In particular, it is shown, in the spirit of reverse mathematics, that a natural unique existence theorem is equivalent to the fan theorem.
In this paper I describe and analyze the need for an alternative, non-clinical approach to counseling, i.e., philosophical counseling. Throughout the first part of this paper. I aim to prove pragmatically the truth or validity of this new non-clinical approach to counseling by describing its effectiveness in a case-study. In the second part, I suggest that many philosophers have made use of philosophical self-diagnosis and self-help to improve their own well-being, although for their private practice of philosophy they did not (...) use the words I have chosen here. I exemplify this by analyzing the representative life narrative of Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a case study. (shrink)
The Dedekind cuts in an ordered set form a set in the sense of constructive Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory. We deduce this statement from the principle of refinement, which we distill before from the axiom of fullness. Together with exponentiation, refinement is equivalent to fullness. None of the defining properties of an ordering is needed, and only refinement for two-element coverings is used. In particular, the Dedekind reals form a set: whence we have also refined an earlier result by Aczel and (...) Rathjen, who invoked the full form of fullness. To further generalise this, we look at Richman's method to complete an arbitrary metric space without sequences, which he designed to avoid countable choice. The completion of a separable metric space turns out to be a set even if the original space is a proper class: in particular, every complete separable metric space automatically is a set. (shrink)
In the target article, human cruelty is linked to intrinsic reinforcement from engaging in the behavior without any recommendations for a research program to validate or test for such reinforcement and its independence from ultimate adaptive outcomes. Suggestions are offered in this commentary for such a program.
“Psychology Game Theory” grafts social-process explanations onto classical game theory to explain deviations from instrumental rationality caused by the social properties of cooperation. This leads to confusion between cooperation as a social or individual behavior, and between ultimate and proximate explanations. If game theory models explain the existence of cooperation, different models are needed for understanding the proximate social processes that underlie cooperation in the real world.
Building on the work of Henk Bos and JohnSchuster, I will examine how the story of Descartes-the-philosopher and Descartes-the-mathematician proceeds in the years immediately following 1628. Specifically, I will focus on the 1633 Le Monde and the 1637 Geometry and hope to show that Descartes is still trying in this period to integrate his distinctively Cartesian version of math with his distinctively Cartesian version of philosophy. Being even more specific, I will look at the creation story presented (...) in Le Monde in conjunction with Descartes’ solution to the Pappus problem, which was published in the Geometry. On the reading I’ll offer, we find both a mathematical influence on the early metaphysics in Le Monde as well as (and this is the heart of my account) a metaphysical grounding for one very important part of the mathematical program that Descartes presents in the Geometry. (shrink)
This paper argues that Kepler considered his work in optics as part of natural philosophy and that, consequently, he aimed at change within natural philosophy. Back-to-back with JohnSchuster’s claim that Descartes’ optics should be considered as a natural philosophical appropriation of innovative results in the tradition of practical and mixed mathematics the central claim of my paper is that Kepler’s theory of optical imagery, developed in his Paralipomena ad Vitellionem (1604), was the result of a move similar (...) to Descartes’ by Kepler. My argument consists of three parts. First, Kepler borrowed a geometrical model and experiment of optical imagery from the mélange of mixed and practical mathematics provided in the works of the sixteenth-century mathematicians Ettore Ausonio and Giovanni Battista Della Porta. Second, Kepler criticized the Aristotelian theory of light and he developed his own alternative metaphysics. Third, Kepler used his natural philosophical assumptions about the nature of light to re-interpret the model of image formation taken from Della Porta’s work. Taken together, I portray Kepler’s theory of optical imagery as a natural philosophical appropriation of an innovative model of image formation developed in a sixteenth-century practical and mixed mathematical tradition which was not interested in questioning philosophical assumptions on the nature of light. (shrink)
A major contribution to Descartes studies, this book provides a panorama of cutting-edge scholarship ranging widely over Descartes's own primary concerns: metaphysics, physics, and its applications. It is at once a tool for scholars and--steering clear of technical Cartesian science--an accessible resource that will delight nonspecialists. The contributors include Edwin Curley, Willis Doney, Alan Gabbey, Daniel Garber, Marjorie Grene, Gary Hatfield, Marleen Rozemond, JohnSchuster, Dennis Sepper, Stephen Voss, Stephen Wagner, Margaret Welson, Jean Marie Beyssade, Michelle Beyssade, Michel (...) Henry, Evert van Leeuwen, Jean-Luc Marion, Genevieve Rodis-Lewis, and Jean-Pierre Seris. Combining new textual sensitivity with attentiveness to history, they represent the best established scholars and most exciting new voices, including both English speaking and newly-translated writers. Part I examines the foundations of Descartes's philosophy: Cartesian certainty; the phenomenology of the cogito and its modulations in the passions; and the defensibility and comprehensibility of the Cartesian God. The second part examines Descartes's groundbreaking metaphysics: mind's distinctness from and interaction with body; imagination; perception; and language. Part III examines Cartesian science: the revolutionary rhetoric of the Rules and the Discourse; the metaphysical foundations of physics; the interplay of rationalism and empiricism; the mechanics and human biology that flow from Descartes's physics. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: List of illustrations * Notes On Contributors * Introduction: B.Biebuyck, G.Buelens, O.de Graef, D.Hoens, S.Jttkandt * Who or What Decides: For Derrida: A Catastrophic Theory of Decision--J.Hillis Miller * Catastrophic Narratives and Why the Catastrophe to Catastrophe Might Have Already Happened--E.Vogt * Breath of Relief: Sloterdijk and the Politics of the Intimate--S.van Tuinen * Man is a swarm animal--J.Clemens * Notes on the Bird War: Biopolitics of the Visible (in the Era of Climate Change)--T.Cohen * Dialectical (...) Catastrophe: Hegels Allegory of Physiognomy and the Ethics of Survival--P.Moll * Catastrophe, Citationality and the Limits of Responsibility in Disgrace--G.Buelens * Unpredictable Inevitability and the Boundaries of Psychic Life; D.Nobus * Who is Nietzsche?--A.Badiou * Is Pleasure a Rotten Idea?--A.Schuster * Nationalist Ext(im)asy: Maurice Barrs and the Roots of Fascist Enjoyment--G.Chaitin * Topography of the Border: Derrida Rewriting Transcendental Aesthetics--J.Hodge * Index List of illustrations * Notes On Contributors * Introduction: B.Biebuyck, G.Buelens, O.de Graef, D.Hoens, S.Jttkandt * Who or What Decides: For Derrida: A Catastrophic Theory of Decision--J.Hillis Miller * Catastrophic Narratives and Why the Catastrophe to Catastrophe Might Have Already Happened--E.Vogt * Breath of Relief: Sloterdijk and the Politics of the Intimate--S.van Tuinen * Man is a swarm animal--J.Clemens * Notes on the Bird War: Biopolitics of the Visible (in the Era of Climate Change)--T.Cohen * Dialectical Catastrophe: Hegels Allegory of Physiognomy and the Ethics of Survival--P.Moll * Catastrophe, Citationality and the Limits of Responsibility in Disgrace--G.Buelens * Unpredictable Inevitability and the Boundaries of Psychic Life; D.Nobus * Who is Nietzsche?--A.Badiou * Is Pleasure a Rotten Idea?--A.Schuster * Nationalist Ext(im)asy: Maurice Barrs and the Roots of Fascist Enjoyment--G.Chaitin * Topography of the Border: Derrida Rewriting Transcendental Aesthetics--J.Hodge * Index. (shrink)
The evolution of human symbolic capacity must have been very rapid even in some intermediate stage (e.g. the proto-symbolic behavior of Homo erectus). Such a rapid process requires a runaway model. The type of very selective and hyperbolically growing self-organization called “hypercyle” by Eigen and Schuster could explain the rapidity and depth of the evolutionary process, whereas traditional runaway models of sexual selection seem to be rather implausible in the case of symbolic evolution. We assume two levels: at the (...) first level the species is adapted to ecological demands and accumulates the effects of this process in the genome. At the second level a kind of social/cultural knowledge is accumulated via a set of symbolic forms, one of which is language. Bühler’s model of three basic functions of signs can also be elaborated so that its cyclic structure becomes apparent. We assume that the hypercyclic process of semiosis and functional differentiation was triggered in 2 my BP (with the Homo erectus) and got more and more speed with the species Homo sapiens and later. The consequences for the evolutionary stratification of human languages will be drawn in the last section of the paper. The basic aim of the paper is to provide a semiotic (and not just a linguistic) explanation of the origin of language which can be linked to relevant models in evolutionary biology and which exploits the possibilities contained in self-organizing systems. (shrink)
The self, Joseph LeDoux tells us, is “the totality of the living organism”. Most disciplines in the natural sciences focus on only one or two levels of organization. Indeed, Dmitri Mendeleev figured out the periodic table of the elements without knowing any of the underlying quantum mechanics or stereochemistry. There are, however, at least a dozen levels of organization within the neurosciences — and, if we use a metaphor, we temporarily create yet another. This leads to considerable confusion and arguments (...) at cross purposes over whether learning is an alteration at the level of gene expression, ion channels, synapses, neurons or circuits. Each neuron has thousands of synapses, which produce currents that summate to form an impulse train. But only rarely is the activity of a single neuron sufficient to cause a perception or trigger an action. Neurons usually act as members of ‘committees’ — what Donald Hebb in 1949 called cellassemblies. Just as in academia, one individual may function in different committees on different occasions. A concept, including any explicit memory that we can talk about, is probably formed by such a committee. Implicit memories (the ones you can’t talk about) are less differentiated — they are part of the ‘feltwork’, together with motivations and emotions, that biases the choice of one’s next act. In this well-written 400-page appreciation of behavioural neuroscience, LeDoux argues that synapses are the seat of self. He says, in effect, that you are your memories; that it is the uniqueness of an array of synaptic strengths that distinguishes one twin from another. Fair enough, but why not instead focus on one’s unique array of ion channels? Or neurons, because a neuron is the closest thing we have to a computational unit (synapses have to reach a threshold before they have any influence at all)? Or one’s unique arrangement of those overlapping, redundant hebbian committees? None of these make for a catchy book title, but relating other things to the synapses proves to be a good way of covering a lot of fascinating material at the overlying levels, including a few updates to LeDoux’s earlier book The Emotional Brain (Simon & Schuster, 1996).. (shrink)
Widely acknowledged as his most influential work, Republic presents Plato's philosophical views on the nature of justice and his vision for the ideal state. THIS ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES: • A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information • A chronology of the author's life and work • A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context • An outline of key themes to guide the reader's own interpretations • Detailed explanatory notes • Critical analysis and (...) modern perspectives on the work • Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction • A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience Simon & Schuster Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential. (shrink)
As pulsations and circulating currents are caused by the activity of the sun, this short survey begins with the road to recognition of solar influences on terrestrial magnetism, particularly of the hypotheses of Balfour Stewart and the two treatises of Arthur Schuster about the daily variations. In meteorology and geomagnetism photographic self-registering apparatuses were early developed in Greenwich and Kew. E. Mascart and M. Eschenhagen continued this line. With the help of his FeinregistriergerÃ¤t (sensitive magnetograph) Eschenhagen could precisely record (...) pulsations for the first time. Through short-time simultaneous observations suggested by him the course of a terrestrial magnetic disturbance was pursued. This disturbance was identified by A. Schmidt in 1899 as a moving circulating current in the upper strata of the atmosphere. (shrink)
SECRETS OF THE TEMPLE: HOW THE FEDERAL RESERVE RUNS THE COUNTRY by William Greider New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. 798 pp., $24.95 Greider pursues the theme that the Federal Reserve System promotes the interests of Wall Street?banks and bondholders?over those of Main Street?the rest of society. The wealth of fascinating observations he makes are, unfortunately, organized by a 1950s?style Keynesianism and a faith in unlimited, majoritarian democracy. Neither of these beliefs are at all adequate for remedying the (...) deficiencies of political control of the money supply, which is the real problem Greider has uncovered. (shrink)