This article examines the philosophical teaching of a colorful Oxford alumnus and Roman Catholic convert, Christopher Davenport, also known as Franciscus à Sancta Clara or Francis Coventry. At the peak of Puritan power during the English Interregnum and after five of his Franciscan confrères had perished for their missionary work, our author tried boldly to claim modern cosmology and atomism as the unrecognized fruits of medieval Scotism. His hope was to revive English pride in the golden age of medieval Oxford (...) and to defend English Franciscans as more legitimately patriotic and scientifically progressive than Puritan millenarians. (shrink)
Introduction -- John Locke and the problem of personal identity : the principium individuationis, personal immortality, and bodily resurrection -- On separation and immortality : Descartes and the nature of the soul -- On materialism and immortality or Hobbes' rejection of the natural argument for the immortality of the soul -- Henry More and John Locke on the dangers of materialism : immateriality, immortality, immorality, and identity -- Robert Boyle : on seeds, cannibalism, and the resurrection of the body (...) -- Locke's theory of personal identity in its context : a reassessment of classic objections. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that the interest on the part of Bacon, Hill, and Warner in corpuscularian interpretations of natural phenomena and their similarity to certain views later held by Digby or Boyle offer a strong indication for the existence of an 'independent English atomistic milieu', a view that fits more closely Porter & Teich's recent model of national contexts for early modern science than Kargon's traditional picture of English atomism as a foreign import. In the course of (...) this article, I consider Francis Bacon's anti-Aristotelian polemic in the light of his continued adherence to a conception of material form and his essentially Aristotelian metaphysics, as well as the relationship between his conception of form and his corpuscular theories of matter. This is followed by an examination of Walter Warner's natural philosophical manuscripts. Particular attention is paid to his Averroist distinction between assistant form and insistent forms in his treatment of the atoms of vital spirits and of the transmission of light, an idea that has interesting links to the scholastic notion of the sphaera actiuitatis. It is shown how Warner replaced the assistant form/sphere of activity with an energic principle, which he called vis and which took over many of the characteristics of the formative principles it replaced. I then compare Warner's use of vis with Nicholas Hill's, for whom it represented a hypostatic principle, i.e. an instrument of divine agency in the physical world. Such a strong view of divine causation enabled Hill to undertake a more radical critique of Aristotelian form than was available to Warner. My discussion ends with a look at Boyle's critique of the modern Aristotelian doctrine of forms, and his re-interpretation of form in terms of atomic configuration and the modifications of local motion. I end by suggesting that the 'phasing out' of Aristotelian notions of form, and their replacement with ideas of force or local motion opened the way for a similar 'phasing out' of divine causation, by making force a self-sufficient explanatory principle. (shrink)
This paper argues that Nicholas of Cusa’s investigation of infinity and incommensurability in De docta ignorantia was shaped by the mathematical innovations and thought experiments of fourteenth-centurynaturalphilosophy. Cusanus scholarship has overlooked this influence, in part because Raymond Klibansky’s influential edition of De docta ignorantia situated Cusa within the medieval Platonic tradition. However, Cusa departs from this tradition in a number of ways. His willingness to engage incommensurability and to compare different magnitudes of infinity distinguishes him (...) from his Platonic predecessors, who had appropriated the Pythagorean model of universal harmonies. Cusa’s penchant for representing quantity geometrically suggests not only that he has adopted the fourteenth-century method of latitude measurement, but that he accepts incommensurability as normative. Finally, Cusa’s persistent attention to mathematical inaccuracy and to his own learned ignorance suggests his kinship with the meta-critical, conjectural quality of fourteenth-century thought. (shrink)
Naturalphilosophy encompassed all natural phenomena of the physical world. It sought to discover the physical causes of all natural effects and was little concerned with mathematics. By contrast, the exact mathematical sciences were narrowly confined to various computations that did not involve physical causes, functioning totally independently of naturalphilosophy. Although this began slowly to change in the late Middle Ages, a much more thoroughgoing union of naturalphilosophy and mathematics occurred (...) in the seventeenth century and thereby made the Scientific Revolution possible. The title of Isaac Newton's great work, The Mathematical Principles of NaturalPhilosophy, perfectly reflects the new relationship. Naturalphilosophy became the 'Great Mother of the Sciences', which by the nineteenth century had nourished the manifold chemical, physical, and biological sciences to maturity, thus enabling them to leave the 'Great Mother' and emerge as the multiplicity of independent sciences we know today. (shrink)
From its very beginning the Royal Society was regarded by many, if not most, of its founders as centrally concerned with practical improvement. How could it be otherwise? The study of nature was not only a pious act in and of itself – a reading of the book of nature – but it was also the way in which God's Providence would provide discoveries for the relief of man's estate. The early ideologues of the Society, such as Robert Boyle and (...) Thomas Sprat, continually returned to the usefulness of naturalphilosophy in that sense. They were no doubt stimulated in this not only by the narrow purpose of gaining support for their novel institution but also by quite genuine beliefs about the role that naturalphilosophy could play in creating a stable political and economic order through which prosperity might increase and the years of civil war be left behind. However, by the late seventeenth century the Society, especially after the demise of the history of trades programme, became much more a deliberative forum than a projective organization. (shrink)
The graduation theses of the Scottish universities in the first half of the seventeenth century are at the crossroads of philosophical and historical events of fundamental importance: Renaissance and Humanist philosophy, Scholastic and modern philosophy, Reformation and Counterreformation, the rise of modern science. The struggle among these tendencies shaped the culture of the seventeenth century. Graduation theses are a product of the Scholasticism of the modern age, which survived the Reformation in Scotland and decisively influenced Scottish (...)philosophy in the seventeenth century, including the reception of early modern philosophy. We can therefore speak of a ‘Scottish Scholasticism’, characterised by an original reception and interpretation of the long traditions of Scholastic philosophy and Aristotelianism. The aim of the thesis is the analysis of the general physics of the graduation theses: the two central theories are prime matter and movement. Naturalphilosophy is a particularly interesting case, and the main features of the graduation theses are the reception of Scholasticism alongside innovation within Scholasticism. Graduation theses adhere to the Scholastic tradition, especially Scotism, while being innovative in their opposition to Catholic forms of Scholasticism. Scottish Scholasticism can be then further qualified as an example of ‘Reformed Scholasticism’. (shrink)
The origins of the evolutionary concept of history have normally been associated with the development of an organicist notion of society. The meaning of this notion, in turn, has been assumed as something perfectly established and clear, almost self-evident. This assumption has prevented any close scrutiny of it. As this article tries to show, the idea of "organism" that underlies the emergence of the evolutionary concept of history, far from being "self-evident," has an intricate history and underwent a number of (...) radical and successive redefinitions from the mid-eighteenth century up to approximately 1830 . More specifically, this paper traces some of these transformations in order to contextualize and shed some new light on Herder's philosophy of history and the complex process of its inception-a process that was not concluded by the end of his intellectual career. As the article shows, Herder did not actually succeed in solving some key problems involved in an evolutionary concept of history. The difficulties he found were analogous to those that emerged at that very moment in the development of a dynamic, ontogenetical theory , and both were ultimately linked to the combination of some uneven developments produced in the natural sciences of that time. Herder's philosophy of history thus appears as a paradoxical case of a system of thought that formulates problems which it is still radically unable to solve, lacking the tools to devise a possible solution for them. (shrink)
Reviews the book, The transformation of psychology: Influences of 19th centuryphilosophy, technology, and natural science, edited by Christopher D. Green, Marlene Shore, and Thomas Teo . Many historians of psychology have noted that at the end of the 18th century, most leading thinkers felt strongly that by the vary nature of its subject matter psychology could never attain the level of natural science. However, by the beginning of the 20th century, an almost complete (...) reversal of this position had occurred and scientific psychology had become a pervasive feature of the intellectual and academic landscape. In this thoughtfully assembled volume, authors undertake to examine both how this change occurred and how it occurred so quickly. They examine a wide variety of areas of study that helped render psychology scientific. This anthology is a very welcome addition to the scholarly endeavor of critically re-examining the history or our discipline. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
In 1685, during the heyday of Scottish Cartesianism, regent Robert Lidderdale from Edinburgh University declared Cartesianism the best philosophy in support of the Reformed faith. It is commonplace that Descartes was ostracised by the Reformed, and his role in pre-Enlightenment Scottish philosophy is not yet fully acknowledged. This paper offers an introduction to Scottish Cartesianism, and argues that the philosophers of the Scottish universities warmed up to Cartesianism because they saw it as a newer, better version of their (...) own traditional Reformed scholasticism, chiefly in metaphysics and naturalphilosophy. (shrink)
This article documents the general tendency of seventeenth-centurynatural philosophers, irrespective of whether they were atomists or anti-atomists, to regard space, time and matter as magnitudes having the same internal composition. It examines the way in which authors such as Fromondus, Basson, Sennert, Arriaga, Galileo, Magnen, Descartes, Gassendi, Charleton as well as the young Newton motivated their belief in the isomorphism of space, time and matter, and how this belief reflected on their views concerning the relation between geometry (...) and physics. Special attention is paid to the fact that most of the authors mentioned above regarded rarefaction and condensation, on the one hand, and acceleration and deceleration, on the other hand, as analogous phenomena, which consequently had to be explained in similar terms. (shrink)
This essay argues that techniques for assessing testimonial credibility were well established in English legal contexts before they appeared in English naturalphilosophy. ‘Matters of fact’ supported by testimony referred to human actions and events before the concept was applied to natural phenomena. The article surveys English legal views about testimony and argues that the criteria for credible testimony in both legal and scientific venues were not limited to those of gentle status. Natural philosophers became concerned (...) with testimony when they shifted their attention from universal statements about nature to particular natural and experimental events. Testimony thus became important in the construction of natural and experimental histories constructed by English naturalists. The shift to a more Baconian approach to natural investigation, itself shaped in part by legal concepts and practice, made it possible for members of the Royal Society to adopt an already familiar and societally approved approach to testimony. However, the essay also suggests how the use of scientific instruments and the desire to avoid the adversarial processes of the law modified legal conditions for fact determination, and made it possible for later generations to associate the concept of fact, supported by credible testimony, with the natural rather than the human sciences.Author Keywords: Natural history; Naturalphilosophy; Testimony; Credibility; Science and law. (shrink)
The 16th and 17th centuries marked a period of transition from the vitalistic ontology that had dominated Renaissance naturalphilosophy to the Early Modern mechanistic paradigm endorsed by, among others, the Cartesians and Newtonians. This paper focuses on how the tensions between vitalism and mechanism played themselves out in the context of 16th and 17thcentury chemistry and chemical philosophy. The paper argues that, within the fields of chemistry and chemical philosophy, the significant (...) transition that culminated in the 18th century Chemical Revolution was not a transition from vitalism to full-blown mechanism. Rather, chemical philosophy shifted from a vitalistic theory of matter and spirits to a naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian conception of chemical properties and reactions. Despite being naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian, however, this theory was not fully mechanistic. Special attention is paid to the contributions made by Paracelsus, Sebastien Basso, Jan Baptista van Helmont, and Robert Boyle to this ontological transition. (shrink)
Early modern scholastic and Aristotelian philosophy is now a growing area of study. However, little attention has been paid to the structure and form of late Aristotelian texts, partly because they have often been seen as baroque and excessively intricate in construction. This article examines the role of structural and stylistic issues in the De anima commentary of the Jesuit author Hieronymus Dandinus , focusing particularly on the techniques he used to integrate knowledge from other disciplines and expand the (...) familiar commentary format. It argues that taking these issues seriously has important implications for our understanding of the dynamics of reading Aristotle in the early modern period. (shrink)
Abstract: The paper argues that mainstream economics and mainstream philosophy of natural science had much in common during the period 1945-1965. It examines seven common features of the two fields and suggests a number of historical developments that might help explain these similarities. The historical developments include: the Vienna Circle connection, the Samuelson-Harvard-Foundations connection, and the Cold War operations research connection.
The seventeenth century marked a critical phase in the emergence of modern science. But we misunderstand this process, if we assume that seventeenth-century modes of natural inquiry were identical to the highly specialised, professionalised and ever proliferating family of modern sciences practised today.
This article surveys work on descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche, And leibniz, Between 1960 and 1972, With particular attention to hintikka, Frankfurt, Kenny, Gueroult, Robinet, Rescher, Parkinson, Ishiguro, And mates. It is accompanied by an extensive bibliography.
At the end of the last century Paul Tannery published an article on geometry in eleventh-century Europe, which he began with the following statement:“This is not a chapter in the history of science; it is a study of ignorance, in a period immediately before the introduction into the West of Arab mathematics.”.