David Miller claims that every valid deductive argument begs the question. Other philosophers and logicians have made similar claims. I show that the claim is false. Its appeal depends on the existence of logical terminology, particularly concerning what a proposition 'contains' or its 'logical content,' that is best understood as metaphoric and that, given its aptness to mislead, would be better eschewed. I show how the terminology appears to derive from early modern theories of the nature of mind, ideas and (...) reasoning that have since been rejected. (shrink)
In this publisher's preface to 'Beobachtungen über den Geist des Menschen und dessen Verhältniß zur Welt' - outstanding, but, despite its merits, so far almost totally unknown philosophical treatise of the late Enlightenment, published in 1790 under a pseudonym 'Andrei Peredumin Koliwanow', I show that the real author of this book was an educator Christlieb Feldstrauch (1734 - 1799).
We have been accustomed at least since Kant and mainstream history of philosophy to distinguish between the ‘mechanical’ and the ‘teleological’; between a fully mechanistic, quantitative science of Nature exemplified by Newton and a teleological, qualitative approach to living beings ultimately expressed in the concept of ‘organism’ – a purposive entity, or at least an entity possessed of functions. The beauty of this distinction is that it seems to make intuitive sense and to map onto historical and conceptual constellations in (...) medicine, physiology and the related natural -philosophical discussions on the status of the body versus that of the machine. In this presentation I argue that the distinction between mechanism and teleology is imprecise and flawed, on the basis of a series of examples: the presence of ‘functional’ or ‘purposive’ features even in Cartesian physiology; work such as that of Richard Lower’s on animal respiration; the fact that the model of the ‘body-machine’ is not at all a mechanistic reduction of organismic properties to basic physical properties but on the contrary a way of emphasizing the uniqueness of organic life; and the concept of ‘animal economy’ in vitalist medical theory, which I present as a kind of ‘teleo-mechanistic’ concept of organism – neither mechanical nor teleological. (shrink)
During the second half of the 20th century, despite the flourishing of Spinoza scholarship (particularly in the French-speaking world) references to Spinoza seem to be rather infrequent in the famous Catholic journal Revue philosophique de Louvain. On closer inspection, however, it is possible to trace a precise attitude of the editors of the Belgian journal, according to which the historiographic representation of the Dutch philosopher constitutes the test-bed of a more general cultural strategy. In contact with phenomenology, anti-Cartesianism, the biological (...) sciences, psychoanalysis and Marxism, the Spinoza of the Catholic journal becomes an entirely new and unusual figure, with respect to the image still prevalent in Spinoza studies today. (shrink)
Leibniz thinks that every created substance is causally active, and yet causally independent of every other: none can cause changes in any but itself. This is not controversial. But Leibniz also thinks that every created substance is existentially independent of every other: it is metaphysically possible for any to exist with or without any other. This is controversial. I argue that, given a mainstream reading of Leibniz’s essentialism, if one accepts the former, uncontroversial interpretation concerning causal independence, then one ought (...) also to accept the latter, controversial one concerning existential independence. This is a new way to defend the ‘existential independence’ interpretation. Moreover, this defense provides a new approach for defending the broadly ‘non-logical’ interpretive camp in the longstanding debate over Leibniz’s views on incompossibility, against perhaps the strongest objection leveled by advocates of the opposing broadly ‘logical’ interpretation. (shrink)
Much scholarship has claimed the physics of Emilie du Châtelet’s treatise, Institutions de physique, is Newtonian. I argue against that idea. To do so, I distinguish three strands of meaning for the category ‘Newtonian science,’ and I examine her book against them. I conclude that her physics is not Newtonian in any useful or informative sense. To capture what is specific about it, we need better interpretive categories.
The Quarrel over Swammerdam’s Posthumous Works reconstructs the vicissitudes of Johannes Swammerdam’s Biblia naturae, a pivotal collection of writings in the history of science. Bequeathed to the polymath Melchisédech Thévenot, the manuscripts and drawings of the treatises constituting this collection were instead kept by the editor Hermann Wingendorp after Swammerdam’s death (1680), triggering a quarrel over their publication. By analysing Swammerdam’s scientific legacy and by offering an edition of the correspondence testifying to the efforts towards such publication, this book sheds (...) light on the editorial history and intellectual context of Swammerdam’s Biblia. This reveals not only an intricate plot of authorized and unauthorized attempts to publish it, but also an exchange of scientific texts and instruments in the late seventeenth century. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive analysis of the royal and princely courts of Europe as important places of Enlightenment. The households of European rulers remained central to politics and culture throughout the eighteenth century, and few writers, artists, musicians, or scholars could succeed without establishing connections to ruling houses, noble families, or powerful courtiers. Covering case studies from Spain and France to Russia, and from Scandinavia and Britain to the Holy Roman Empire, the contributions of this volume examine how Enlightenment (...) figures were integrated into the princely courts of the Ancien Régime, and what kinds of relationships they had with courtiers. Dangers and opportunities presented by proximity to court are discussed as well as the question of what rulers and courtiers gained from their interactions with Enlightenment men and women of letters. The book focusses on four areas: firstly, the impact of courtly patronage on Enlightenment discourses and the work as well as careers of Enlightenment writers; secondly, the court as an audience to be catered for by Enlightenment writers; thirdly, the function of Enlightenment narratives and discourses for the image-making of rulers and courtiers; and fourthly, the role the interaction of courtiers and Enlightenment writers played for the formulation of reform policies. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the ancient Greeks thought that Thales was the first philosopher, and that they therefore maintained that philosophy had a Greek origin. This paper challenges these assumptions, arguing that most ancient Greek thinkers who expressed views about the history and development of philosophy rejected both positions. I argue that not even Aristotle presented Thales as the first philosopher, and that doing so would have undermined his philosophical commitments and interests. Beyond Aristotle, the view that Thales was (...) the first philosopher is attested almost nowhere in antiquity. In the classical, Hellenistic, and post-Hellenistic periods, we witness a marked tendency to locate the beginning of philosophy in a time going back further than Thales. Remarkably, ancient Greek thinkers most often traced the origins of philosophy to earlier non-Greek peoples. Contrary to the received view, then, I argue that (1) vanishingly few Greek writers pronounced Thales the first philosopher; and (2) most Greek thinkers did not even advocate a Greek origin of philosophy. Finally, I show that the view that philosophy originated with Thales (along with its misleading attribution to the Greeks in general) has roots in problematic, and in some cases manifestly racist, eighteenth-century historiography of philosophy. (shrink)
This essay re-reads François Hemsterhuis's philosophical dialogue Alexis (1787) as a post-Copernican cosmic theodicy that prefigures a central nexus of concerns in Early German Romanticism. This theodicy is cross-scalar, in that it functions across three disparate scales: the history of global humanity, the geo-cosmic history of the Earth, and the broader processuality of the universe. From the perspective of this cross-scalar entanglement, I reconstruct Hemsterhuis's vision of the ages of the world and his theodical narrative of the golden age, the (...) Fall, and the cosmic destiny of humanity. Additionally, I offer a counter-reading of this destiny through the story of the Moon in Alexis, and through the contingency, uselessness, and cosmic failure that the Moon embodies. (shrink)
What happened to the theories of Europe developed by the Enlightenment? Following a pluridisciplinary perspective, this book examines the way in which the projects conceived in the 18th century were reinvested both in the founding texts of the European Union and in contemporary political theory.
Leibniz famously argues that there must be simple substances, since there are composites, and a composite is nothing but a collection of simples. I reconstruct Leibniz’s argument, showing that it relies on a commitment to mereological nihilism (i.e., the view that composites cannot be true beings). I show further that Leibniz endorses mereological nihilism as early as the 1680s and offers both direct and indirect support for this commitment: indirect support via the notion of unity and direct support via the (...) notion of persistence. I then assess the alignment of Leibniz’s mereological nihilism with his other commitments during the 1680s, including his potential commitment to corporeal substances. I argue that any viable interpretation of Leibniz’s commitment to corporeal substances is compatible with mereological nihilism, which provides a new perspective both on Leibniz’s developing theory of substance and on his mature theory of simple substance. (shrink)
Over the last three decades Anthony La Vopa has extended his reach as an Enlightenment historian from Germany to England, Scotland, and France. Enlightenment Past and Present: Essays in a Social History of Ideas provides insights into all four contexts, with a view to understanding the Enlightenment's contours in spaces that were distinct but nonetheless shared in a European-wide engagement with a cluster of political, social, and cultural issues. The volume explores a wide variety of themes in the formation of (...) modernity, including the construction of a public, the emergence of modern feminism, the problematic legitimacy of marriage, the ideal and practice of friendship, patron-client relations, the conversational sociability of politeness, and the evolution of the essay as a genre. La Vopa aims to demonstrate in practice the new interest in restoring the social to intellectual history without falling back into reductionism. He throws a spotlight on a number of key texts in eighteenth-century philosophy. In several essays, La Vopa employs the resources of meaning in rhetorical cultures with thick social contexts to present Enlightenment texts not simply as print records, but as rhetorical performances with specific audiences. He also often intertwines contexts by focusing on biographical experience, using 'private' life traces such as diaries and other forms of correspondence, to enhance our understanding of published discourse. While drawing on the history of philosophy, the volume takes a decidedly more historical path through the canon, and includes essay reviews which take stock of developments in Enlightenment studies via critical appraisals of major recent contributions to the field. (shrink)
This book probes the sources and nature of the 'discontents of modernity'. It proposes a new approach to the philosophic-critical discourse on modernity. The Enlightenment is widely understood to be the foundational moment of modernity. Yet despite its appeal to reason as the ultimate ground of its authority and legitimacy, the Enlightenment has had multiple historical manifestations and, therefore, can hardly be said to be a homogenous phenomenon. The present work seeks to identify a unitive element that allows us to (...) speak of the Enlightenment. To do so, it enjoins the concept of 'ethos' and its relation to the 'discontents of modernity'. This book proposes a new theoretical framework for the examination of the interrelationships between 'critical thought' and 'modernity', based on a fundamental distinction between criticism and negation. It will appeal to scholars and students of critical theory, the history of ideas, philosophy, the sociology of knowledge, and political science. (shrink)
This post-colonial and feminist reading of the Enlightenment explores the proto-postmodernist practice of examining one's conclusions through the eyes of the Other. Self-estrangement to gain critical distance from one's taken-for-granted assumptions was central to the Enlightenment and remains vital for critical sociopolitical thinking today.
In this chapter I provide a reconstruction of the contents of the lectures provided by Burchard de Volder by means of experiments at Leiden, in the years 1676–1678, as well as of the natural-philosophical interpretation he provided of the experimental evidences he gained. Such lectures, mostly based on the experiments described by Boyle, served De Volder to teach natural-philosophical ideas which he borrowed from Descartes, and which he re-interpreted in the light of Archimedes’s hydrostatics.
In discussing the obligation to love everyone, Mary Astell (1666–1731) recognizes and responds to what I call the theocentric challenge: if humans are required to love God entirely, then they cannot fulfill the second requirement to love their neighbor. In exploring how Astell responds to this challenge, I argue that Astell is an astute metaphysician who does not endorse the metaphysical views she praises. This viewpoint helps us to understand the complicated relationship between her views and those of Descartes, Malebranche, (...) Henry More, and John Norris, as well as her sophisticated approach to biblical interpretation and theology. Attending to theocentrism opens up new avenues of research in the study of early modern philosophy. It also helps us to see connections between Astell and other theocentric philosophers such as Spinoza and Anne Conway. (shrink)
Este artigo considera a contribuição de Baruch Espinosa a uma teoria do poder constituinte. Teorias modernas do poder constituinte geralmente concordam em sua essência paradoxal: um poder que vem antes da lei e funda a lei é ao mesmo tempo um poder que, uma vez que a esfera jurídica é estabelecida, tem de ser obliterado pela lei. A ontologia de Espinosa tem sido reconhecida como uma das primeiras fontes modernas do poder constituinte, no entanto, ele argumenta por uma equivalência estrita (...) entre poder e lei. Este artigo defende que ao ler a teoria política de Espinosa através das lentes de uma imanência radical entre ontologia e história, podemos entendê-lo como uma fonte para a teoria do poder constituinte. Também defende que, através dessa imanência, o pensamento de Espinosa oferece uma solução para o paradoxo do poder constituinte e enriquece as discussões contemporâneas sobre a origem da esfera jurídica e a relação entre política e lei. (shrink)
Putting together Kant's theory of emotion is complicated by two facts: (1) Kant has no term which is an obvious equivalent of "emotion" as used in contemporary English; (2) theorists disagree about what emotions are. These obstacles notwithstanding, my dissertation aims to provide the foundation for a reconstruction of Kant's theory of emotion that is both historically accurate and responsive to contemporary philosophical concerns. In contrast to available approaches which rest on contested assumptions about emotions, I start from the generally (...) accepted and reasonable premise that what we call "emotions" refers in Kant to a set of mental states, some of which he associates with the feeling of pleasure and displeasure ("feelings"), others with the faculty of desire ("desires"). I then proceed to examine the nature of these two kinds of mental states and their proper treatment. I argue that Kantian feelings are representations of objects' relation to the subject, that have a felt quality, and dispose their subject to certain behaviors. While feelings can only motivate action by causing desires and have no temporal direction, desires - except for certain wishes - are future-directed, which allows them to motivate actions immediately (but they need not bring action about). Equipped with this account of feelings and desires, I proceed to examine the kind of treatment Kant prescribes for them, and argue that feelings (except affects) should be cultivated, that is, acquired and improved so that they could be used to pursue rational ends, while inclinations, i.e., habitual sensuous desires, should generally be disciplined, that is, constrained by rules. The resultant picture is compelling because it rests on minimal assumptions about emotions and successfully incorporates the phenomenological, evaluative, and dispositional functions traditionally associated with emotions. (shrink)
This new anthology of early modern philosophy enriches the possibilities for teaching this period by highlighting not only metaphysics and epistemology, but also new themes such as virtue, equality and difference, education, the passions, and love. It contains the works of forty-three philosophers, including traditionally taught figures such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant, as well as less familiar writers such as Lord Shaftesbury, Anton Amo, Julien Offray de La Mettrie, and Denis Diderot. It also highlights the (...) contributions of women philosophers, including Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Gabrielle Suchon, Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, and Emilie Du Châtelet. (shrink)
The author of this book speaks out again in regard to the Enlightenment. His inspiration comes not only from new observations occasioned by own studies, but also from the recently read material as well as opinions and appraisals of the era articulated lately at academic conferences. Although they have not led the author to perform a fundamental revision of his views in regard to the nature of Enlightenment and its crucial contributions to the Western culture, they did afford a better (...) understanding of its complexity. They also made him more aware that his interpretation and presentation of that era depends considerably on what its prominent representatives had to say, as well as on the worldview-based assumptions and methods of appraisal adopted by its later observers and interpreters. (shrink)
Clandestine philosophical manuscripts, made up of forbidden works including erotic texts, political pamphlets, satires of court life, forbidden religious texts, and books about the occult, had an avid readership in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, becoming objects of historical research by the twentieth century. The purveyors of the clandestine could be found in the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, and not least in Paris or London. Despite the heavy risks, including prison, the circulation of these manuscripts was a prosperous venture. (...) After Ira Wade's pioneering contribution (1938), Clandestine Philosophy is the first work in English entirely focused on the philosophical clandestine manuscripts that preceded and accompanied the birth of the Enlightenment. Topics from philosophy, political and religious thought, and moral and sexual behaviour are addressed by contemporary authors working in both America and Europe. These manuscripts shed light on the birth of pornography and provide an important avenue for investigating philosophical, religious, political, and social critique. (shrink)
Depuis plusieurs années déjà s'élèvent des critiques d'une radicalité inouïe contre le cœur même de l'héritage des Lumières : le rationalisme, le progressisme, l'universalisme. Ces critiques se revendiquent de l'émancipation des dominés, marqueur traditionnel des différents courants de gauche. Mais s'inscrivent-elles dans le prolongement de celles qui, depuis l'émergence des mouvements socialiste, communiste ou anarchiste, avaient pour horizon un prolongement et un élargissement des combats des Lumières "bourgeoises"? Il est malheureusement à craindre que non. Une partie de la gauche est-elle (...) dès lors en train de se renier elle-même?"--Page 4 of cover. (shrink)
In this article, I intervene in a long-standing debate over the alleged assumption and teaching of Spinozist ideas by the Dutch philosopher and scientist Burchard de Volder (1643–1709). I discuss De Volder’s position with respect to three main topics (necessitarianism, substance monism, and biblical interpretation), as well as the use his student Jacob Wittich made of De Volder’s ideas in Wittich’s highly controversial De natura Dei (1711). Eventually, I argue that De Volder was certainly a sympathizer of Spinoza, accepted necessitarianism, (...) and considered Spinoza a reliable interpreter of Descartes in physics, even if he did not accept Spinoza’s monist metaphysics, nor his biblical hermeneutics. (shrink)
In Rethinking the Enlightenment, Dr. Stuart demonstrates that the three primary strategies employed during the Enlightenment -- conflict, engagement, and retreat -- are time-tested methods that should be employed in our own anti-Christian age"--The publisher.
The Cartesian view that animals are automata sparked a major controversy in early modern European philosophy. This paper studies an early contribution to this controversy. I provide an interpretation of an influential objection to Cartesian animal automatism raised by Ignace-Gaston Pardies (1636–1673). Pardies objects that the Cartesian arguments show only that animals lack ‘intellectual perception’ but do not show that animals lack ‘sensible perception.’ According to Pardies, the difference between these two types of perception is that the former is reflexive (...) such that we both perceive an object and the perception itself, whereas sensible perception lacks this reflexivity. This notion of sensible perception was criticized by the Cartesian Antoine Dilly for violating the doctrine that all thought is conscious. However, I argue that sensible perceptions are not unconscious for Pardies. Rather, they are conscious perceptions that are unaccompanied by a kind of reflexive perception that is constitutive of attention. Moreover, I argue that when understood in this way Pardies raises a compelling objection to Cartesian animal automatists. (shrink)
Empiricism is a claim about the contents of the mind: its classic slogan is nihil est in intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu, ‘there is nothing in the mind (intellect, understanding) which is not first in the senses’. As such, it is not a claim about the fundamental nature of the world as material. I focus here on in an instance of what one might term the materialist appropriation of empiricism. One major component in the transition from a purely epistemological (...) claim about the mind and its contents, to an ontological claim about the nature of the world, is the new focus on brain-mind relations in the eighteenth century. Here I examine a Lockean trajectory as exemplified in Joseph Priestley’s 1777 Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit. But Locke explicitly ruled out that his inquiry into the logic of ideas amounted to a ‘physical consideration of the mind’. What does it mean, then, for Priestley to present himself as continuing a Lockean tradition, while presenting mental processes as tightly identified with ‘an organical structure such as that of the brain’ (although he was not making a strict identity claim as we might understand it, post-Smart and Armstrong)? One issue here is that of Priestley's source of ‘empirical data’ regarding the correlation and indeed identification of mental and cerebral processes. David Hartley’s theory in his 1749 Observations on Man was, as is well known, republished in abridged form by Priestley, but he discards Hartley's 'vibratory neurophysiology' while retaining the associationist framework, although not because he disagreed with the former. Yet Hartley was at the very least, strongly agnostic about metaphysical issues (and it is difficult to study these authors while bracketing off religious considerations). One could see Locke and Hartley as articulating programs for the study of the mind which were more or less naturalistic (more strongly so in Hartley’s case) while avoiding ‘materialism’ per se; in contrast, Priestley bit the (materialist) bullet. In this paper I examine Priestley’s appropriation and reconstruction of this ‘micro-tradition’, while emphasizing its problems. (shrink)
In the Optics, Descartes claims that telescopes and microscopes lead to morally certain knowledge. It is unclear, however, that Descartes’s expressed confidence in these instruments is warranted. In this article, I show how a limited range of telescope and microscope observations could lead to morally certain knowledge for Descartes, and how observations beyond this range admit of enough reasonable doubt to undermine moral certainty. I also explain moral certainty as a form of knowledge in Descartes’s scientific practices, his epistemic commitment (...) to optical instruments, and I offer an explanation for why Descartes never used optical instruments in his scientific endeavours. -/- ---- -/- Dans la Dioptrique, Descartes prétend que les télescopes et les microscopes donnent accès à des connaissances moralement certaines. Cependant, il n’est pas certain que la confiance accordée par Descartes à ces instruments soit justifiée. Dans cet article, je montre comment une gamme limitée d’observations effectuées à l’aide d’instruments d’optique pourraient mener aux connaissances moralement certaines pour Descartes, et comment d’autres observations allant au-delà de cette gamme introduisent suffisamment de doute raisonnable pour saper cette certitude morale. Enfin, j’interprète la certitude morale comme une forme de connaissance dans l’empirisme de Descartes, j’explique son engagement épistémique envers les instruments d’optique, et j’éclaire les raisons pour lesquelles il n’a jamais employé d’instruments d’optique dans ses propres recherches scientifiques. (shrink)
Philosophy of biology before biology -/- Edited by Cécilia Bognon-Küss & Charles T. Wolfe -/- Table of contents -/- Cécilia Bognon-Küss & Charles T. Wolfe. Introduction -/- 1. Cécilia Bognon-Küss & Charles T. Wolfe. The idea of “philosophy of biology before biology”: a methodological provocation -/- Part I. FORM AND DEVELOPMENT -/- 2. Stéphane Schmitt. Buffon’s theories of generation and the changing dialectics of molds and molecules 3. Phillip Sloan. Metaphysics and “Vital” Materialism: The Gabrielle Du Châtelet Circle and French (...) Vitalism 4. John Zammito. The Philosophical Reception of C. F. Wolff’s Epigenesis in Germany, 1770-1790: Herder, Tetens and Kant -/- Part II. ORGANISM & ORGANIZATION 5. François Duchesneau. Senebier and the Advent of General Physiology 6. Tobias Cheung. Organization and Process. Living Systems Between Inner and Outer Worlds: Cuvier, Hufeland, Cabanis. -/- Part III. SYSTEMS 7. Georg Toepfer. Philosophy of Ecology Long Before Ecology: Kant’s Idea of an Organized System of Organized Beings 8. Ina Goy. "All is leaf". Goethe's plant philosophy and poetry 9. Snait Gissis. ‘Biology’, Lamarck, Lamarckisms -/- POSTSCRIPTS 1. Lynn Nyhart. A Historical Proposal Around Prepositions -/- 2. Philippe Huneman. Philosophy after Philosophy of Biology before Biology -/- Cécilia Bognon-Küss and Charles T. Wolfe. Conclusion . (shrink)
The issue on whether knowledge can be possibly transmitted and in which order from the teacher to his students has been a hot topic since ancient Greece. Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, just to mention two of the most famous philosophical “couples” apparently dissented from each other on this point. In this paper, I analyze the Conimbricenses’ thought on this topic by interpreting their commentary to the first lines of the Posterior Analytics. Assessing the Conimbricenses’ thought on this (...) topic provide further insights on the general attitude of Jesuit philosophers toward their philosophical binding authorities, namely Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. (shrink)