Francesco Patrizi da Cherso's concept of space and its later influence

Annals of Science 36 (6):549-573 (1979)
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This study considers the contribution of Francesco Patrizi da Cherso to the development of the concepts of void space and an infinite universe. Patrizi plays a greater role in the development of these concepts than any other single figure in the sixteenth century, and yet his work has been almost totally overlooked. I have outlined his views on space in terms of two major aspects of his philosophical attitude: on the one hand, he was a devoted Platonist and sought always to establish Platonism, albeit his own version of it, as the only currect philosophy; and on the other hand, he was more determinedly anti-Aristotelian than any other philosopher at that time. Patrizi's concept of space has its beginnings in Platonic notions, but is extended and refined in the light of a vigorous critique of Aristotle's position. Finally, I consider the influence of Patrizi's ideas in the seventeenth century, when various thinkers are seeking to overthrow the Aristotelian concept of place and the equivalence of dimensionality with corporeality. Pierre Gassendi , for example, needed a coherent concept of void space in which his atoms could move, while Henry More sought to demonstrate the reality of incorporeal entities by reference to an incorporeal space. Both men could find the arguments they needed in Patrizi's comprehensive treatment of the subject



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