Review of Metaphysics 21 (4):753-753 (1968)

In the Preface, Kargon states the two objectives of this monograph in the history of science: "First, I wish to bring to the attention of historians of science the existence and importance of two circles of natural philosophers which played an important role in the history of atomism. Secondly, I wish to trace the evolution of atomism and illustrate the mechanism of its establishment in England in the latter seventeenth century. In doing so, I will re-evaluate the contributions of four major figures and many minor ones, including Walter Charleton, the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, William Petty, Charles Cavendish, and John Pell". Kargon turns in cash on both promissory notes with a careful yet highly readable piece of scholarship. Some obscurities remain, however, in particular his attempt to link the Northumberland and Newcastle groups with the suggestion that Hobbes' atomism might have been influenced through his connection with John Pell. Concurrence rather than influence was more likely the case. It is also suggested that there might have been a link between Bacon's early atomism and that of Hariot's Northumberland group. But once again the arguments in favor of such a connection are inconclusive at best. Of great importance for the history of atomism is the influence maintained to have been exerted by the 1653 publication of Bacon's atomistic works; this influence was felt by the Newcastle group and the Royal Society. Most interesting, however, is the securely attested influence of the Baconian method on Barrow, Newton, and the Royal Society in general.—E. A. R.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph196821493
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