The Origins of Early Modern Experimental Philosophy

Intellectual History Review 22 (4):499-518 (2012)
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This paper argues that early modern experimental philosophy emerged as the dominant member of a pair of methods in natural philosophy, the speculative versus the experimental, and that this pairing derives from an overarching distinction between speculative and operative philosophy that can be ultimately traced back to Aristotle. The paper examines the traditional classification of natural philosophy as a speculative discipline from the Stagirite to the seventeenth century; medieval and early modern attempts to articulate a scientia experimentalis; and the tensions in the classification of natural magic and mechanics that led to the introduction of an operative part of natural philosophy in the writings of Francis Bacon and John Johnston. The paper concludes with a summary of the salient discontinuities between the experimental/speculative distinction of the mid-seventeenth century and its predecessors and a statement of the developments that led to the ascendance of experimental philosophy from the 1660s.


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Newtonian and Non-Newtonian Elements in Hume.Matias Slavov - 2016 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 (3):275-296.
Rethinking Early Modern Philosophy.Graham Clay & Ruth Boeker - 2023 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 31 (2):105-114.
Locke on measurement.Peter R. Anstey - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 60:70-81.

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References found in this work

The Textbook Tradition in Natural Philosophy 1600–1650.Patricia Reif - 1969 - Journal of the History of Ideas 30 (1):17.
Francis Bacon and the Classification of Natural History.Peter Anstey - 2012 - Early Science and Medicine 17 (1):11-31.
Roger Bacon.Jeremiah Hackett - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Praefatio.[author unknown] - 1969 - Studia Leibnitiana 1 (1):3-4.

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