Authors
Marcus P. Adams
State University of New York, Albany
Abstract
I offer an alternative account of the relationship of Hobbesian geometry to natural philosophy by arguing that mixed mathematics provided Hobbes with a model for thinking about it. In mixed mathematics, one may borrow causal principles from one science and use them in another science without there being a deductive relationship between those two sciences. Natural philosophy for Hobbes is mixed because an explanation may combine observations from experience (the ‘that’) with causal principles from geometry (the ‘why’). My argument shows that Hobbesian natural philosophy relies upon suppositions that bodies plausibly behave according to these borrowed causal principles from geometry, acknowledging that bodies in the world may not actually behave this way. First, I consider Hobbes's relation to Aristotelian mixed mathematics and to Isaac Barrow's broadening of mixed mathematics in Mathematical Lectures (1683). I show that for Hobbes maker's knowledge from geometry provides the ‘why’ in mixed-mathematical explanations. Next, I examine two explanations from De corpore Part IV: (1) the explanation of sense in De corpore 25.1-2; and (2) the explanation of the swelling of parts of the body when they become warm in De corpore 27.3. In both explanations, I show Hobbes borrowing and citing geometrical principles and mixing these principles with appeals to experience.
Keywords Natural Philosophy  Thomas Hobbes  Isaac Barrow  Mixed Mathematics  Geometry  Sensation
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2015.10.010
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References found in this work BETA

Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition.Jean Hampton - 1986 - Cambridge University Press.
Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition.Jean Hampton - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
Aristotle’s Philosophy of Mathematics.Jonathan Lear - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (2):161-192.

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