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, StephenGaukroger, Peter Harrison, Gary Hatfield, Trevor McClaughlin, Peter McLaughlin, Katherine Morris, Alberto Guillermo, Timothy Reiss, Peter Schouls, John Schuster, Dennis Sepper, Peter Slezak, John Sutton, Yashiko Tomida, Klaas van Berkel, Theo Verbeek, Catherine Wilson, Celia Wolf-Devine, John Wright, John Yolton. (shrink)
This ambitious and important book provides the first truly general account of Francis Bacon as a philosopher. It describes how Bacon transformed the values that had underpinned philosophical culture since antiquity by rejecting the traditional idea of a philosopher as someone engaged in contemplation of the cosmos. The book explores in detail how and why Bacon attempted to transform the largely esoteric discipline of natural philosophy into a public practice through a program in which practical science provided a model that (...) inspired many from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. StephenGaukroger shows that this reform of natural philosophy was dependent on the creation of a new philosophical persona: a natural philosopher shaped through submission to the dictates of Baconian method. This book will be recognized as a major contribution to Baconian scholarship, of special interest to historians of early-modern philosophy, science, and ideas. (shrink)
Towards the end of his life, Descartes published the first four parts of a projected six-part work, The Principles of Philosophy. This was intended to be the definitive statement of his complete system of philosophy, dealing with everything from cosmology to the nature of human happiness. StephenGaukroger examines the whole system, and reconstructs the last two parts, 'On Living Things' and 'On Man', from Descartes' other writings. He relates the work to the tradition of late Scholastic textbooks (...) which it follows, and also to Descartes' other philosophical writings, and he examines the ways in which Descartes transformed not only the practice of natural philosophy but also our understanding of what it is to be a philosopher. His book is the first comprehensive examination of Descartes' complete philosophical system. (shrink)
René Descartes (1596-1650) is the father of modern philosophy, and one of the greatest of all thinkers. This is the first intellectual biography of Descartes in English; it offers a fundamental reassessment of all aspects of his life and work. StephenGaukroger, a leading authority on Descartes, traces his intellectual development from childhood, showing the connections between his intellectual and personal life and placing these in the cultural context of seventeenth century Europe. -/- Descartes' early work in mathematics (...) and science produced ground breaking theories, methods, and tools still in use today. This book gives the first full account of how this work informed and influenced the later philosophical studies for which, above all, Descartes is renowned. Not only were philosophy and science intertwined in Descartes' life; so were philosophy and religion. The Church of Rome found Galileo guilty of heresy in 1633; two decades earlier, Copernicus' theories about the universe had been denounced as blasphemous. To avoid such accusations, Descartes clothed his views about the relation between God and humanity, and about the nature of the universe, in a philosophical garb acceptable to the Church. His most famous project was the exploration of the foundations of human knowledge, starting from the proof of one's own existence offered in the formula Cogito ergo sum, `I am thinking therefore I exist'. StephenGaukroger argues that this was not intended as an exercise in philosophical scepticism, but rather to provide Descartes' scientific theories, influenced as they were by Copernicus and Galileo, with metaphysical legitimation. -/- This book offers for the first time a full understanding of how Descartes developed his revolutionary ideas. It will be welcomed by all readers interested in the origins of modern thought. (shrink)
Understanding the emergence of a scientific culture - one in which cognitive values generally are modelled on, or subordinated to, scientific ones - is one of the foremost historical and philosophical problems with which we are now confronted. The significance of the emergence of such scientific values lies above all in their ability to provide the criteria by which we come to appraise cognitive enquiry, and which shape our understanding of what it can achieve. -/- The period between the 1680s (...) and the middle of the eighteenth century is a very distinctive one in this development. It is then that we witness the emergence of the idea that scientific values form a model for all cognitive claims. It is also at this time that science explicitly goes beyond technical expertise and begins to articulate a world-view designed to displace others, whether humanist or Christian. But what occurred took place in a peculiar and overdetermined fashion, and the outcome in the mid-eighteenth century was not the triumph of 'reason', as has commonly been supposed, but rather a simultaneous elevation of the standing of science and the beginnings of a serious questioning of whether science offers a comprehensive form of understanding. -/- The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility is the sequel to StephenGaukroger's acclaimed 2006 book The Emergence of a Scientific Culture. It offers a rich and fascinating picture of the development of intellectual culture in a period where understandings of the natural realm began to fragment. (shrink)
This book deals with a neglected episode in the history of logic and theories of cognition: the way in which conceptions of inference changed during the seventeenth century. The author focuses on the work of Descartes, contrasting his construal of inference as an instantaneous grasp in accord with the natural light of reason, with the Aristotelian view of inference as a discursive process. Gaukroger offers a new interpretation of Descartes`s contribution to the question, revealing it to be a significant (...) advance over humanist and late Scholastic conceptions. He argues that Descartes's account played a pivotal role in the development of our understanding of the nature of inference. (shrink)
Abstract Contrary to most modern interpretations, in the early modern period, history was an indispensable resource for many philosophers. The different uses of history by Bacon, Gassendi, Locke, and Hume are explored to establish the role of history as a resource in early-modern philosophy.
Machine generated contents note: -- 1. Introduction -- 2. Aren't all judgements biased in one way or another? -- 3. Don't all judgements involve some assumptions? -- 4. Doesn't science show there is no objectivity? -- 5. Is it possible to represent things objectively? -- 6. Is objectivity a form of honesty? -- 7. Objectivity in numbers? -- 8. Can the study of human behaviour be objective? -- 9. Can there be objectivity in ethics? -- 10. Can there be objectivity (...) in taste? -- References -- Further reading. (shrink)
This book provides perspectives of the passions of the 17th century. The contributors suggest that fundamental questions about the nature of wisdom, goodness and beauty were understood in terms of the contrast between reason and passions.
In this groundbreaking collection of essays the history of philosophy appears in a new light, not as reason's progressive discovery of its universal conditions, but as a series of unreconciled disputes over the proper way to conduct oneself as a philosopher. By shifting focus from the philosopher as proxy for the universal subject of reason to the philosopher as a special persona arising from rival forms of self-cultivation, philosophy is approached in terms of the social office and intellectual deportment of (...) the philosopher, as a personage with a definite moral physiognomy and institutional setting. In so doing, this collection of essays by leading figures in the fields of both philosophy and the history of ideas provides access to key early modern disputes over what it meant to be a philosopher, and to the institutional and larger political and religious contexts in which such disputes took place. (shrink)
: Within twenty years of one another, Bacon and Descartes proposed cosmologies which relied heavily on matter theory. In both, the distribution of matter in the cosmos determined what centers of rotation there were, and rotating bodies were carried around by the motion of an all-encompassing celestial fluid in which they were embedded. But the role of matter theory in the two accounts is very different, both in motivation and in the level at which it is active in guiding physical (...) theory. Matter theory in Baconian cosmology stands as a foundational discipline, being virtually constitutive of physical theory, as it had been for natural philosophers from Thales onwards, whereas in Descartes it is subservient to the needs of his optics and his mechanics. Comparison of the two cases shows how the role of matter theory came to be radically modified in seventeenth-century cosmology. (shrink)
Descartes. An Intellectual Biography by StephenGaukroger, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995. xx + 499pp. 25.00 ISBN 0-19-823994-7 Descartes. Biographie by Gen vieve Rodis-Lewis, Calmann-L vy, Paris, 1995. 371pp.
Although it is clear that Sir William Rowan Hamilton supported a Kantian account of algebra, I argue that there is an important sense in which Hamilton's philosophy of mathematics can be situated in the Newtonian tradition. Drawing from both Niccolo Guicciardini's (2009) and StephenGaukroger's (2010) readings of the Newton–Leibniz controversy over the calculus, I aim to show that the very epistemic ideals that underpin Newton's argument for the superiority of geometry over algebra also motivate Hamilton's philosophy of (...) algebra. Namely, Hamilton's defense of algebra, like Newton's defense of geometry, is driven by the claim that a mathematical science must have a proper object and thus a basis in truth. In particular, Hamilton aims to show that algebra is not a mere language, or tool, or a mere “art”; instead, he argues, algebra is a bona fide mathematical science, like geometry, because its methods also provide true and accurate insight into a genuine subject matter, namely, the pure form of temporal intuition. (shrink)