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Alison Peterman
University of Rochester
  1. Spinoza on Extension.Alison Peterman - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    This paper argues that Spinoza does not take extension in space to be a fundamental property of physical things. This means that when Spinoza calls either substance or a mode “an Extended thing”, he does not mean that it is a thing extended in three dimensions. The argument proceeds by showing, first, that Spinoza does not associate extension in space with substance, and second, that finite bodies, or physical things, are not understood through the intellect when they are conceived as (...)
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    Margaret Cavendish on Motion and Mereology.Alison Peterman - 2019 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (3):471-499.
    Recent exciting work on Cavendish’s natural philosophy highlights the important role of motion in her system. But what is motion, according to Cavendish? I argue that motion, for Cavendish, is what I call ‘compositional motion’: for a body to be in motion is just for it to divide from some matter and join with other matter. So when Cavendish claims to reduce all natural change to motion, she is really reducing all natural change to mereological change. Cavendish also uses ‘motion’ (...)
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    Empress vs. Spider-Man: Margaret Cavendish on pure and applied mathematics.Alison Peterman - 2019 - Synthese 196 (9):3527-3549.
    The empress of Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World dismisses pure mathematicians as a waste of her time, and declares of the applied mathematicians that “there [is] neither Truth nor Justice in their Profession”. In Cavendish’s theoretical work, she defends the Empress’ judgments. In this paper, I discuss Cavendish’s arguments against pure and applied mathematics. In Sect. 3, I develop an interpretation of some relevant parts of Cavendish’s metaphysics and epistemology, focusing on her anti-abstractionism and what I call her ’assimilation’ view (...)
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    Spinoza on Physical Science.Alison Peterman - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (3):214-223.
    In this paper, I discuss Spinoza on the proper methods and content of physical science. I start by showing how Spinoza's epistemology leads him to a kind of pessimism about the prospects of empirical and mathematical methods in natural philosophy. While they are useful for life, they do not tell us about nature, as Spinoza puts it, “as it is in itself.” At the same time, Spinoza seems to allow that we have some knowledge of physical things and their behavior. (...)
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  5. Spinoza on the “Principles of Natural Things”.Alison Peterman - 2012 - The Leibniz Review 22:37-65.
    This essay considers Spinoza’s responses to two questions: what is responsible for the variety in the physical world and by what mechanism do finite bodies causally interact? I begin by elucidating Spinoza’s solution to the problem of variety by considering his comments on Cartesian physics in an epistolary exchange with Tschirnhaus late in Spinoza’s life. I go on to reconstruct Spinoza’s unique account of causation among finite bodies by considering Leibniz’s attack on the Spinozist explanation of variety. It turns out (...)
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    Canonizing CavendishDavid Cunning. Cavendish. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016. Pp. 322. $145.00 ; $54.95.Alison Peterman - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (1):191-197.
  7. The 'Physical' Interlude.Alison Peterman - 2017 - In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), Cambridge Critical Guide to Spinoza’s Ethics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 102-120.
    I have tried to motivate the claim that the interlude has been somewhat over-read as a “physics” and under-read as a guide to understanding Spinoza’s picture of the relationship between the mind and the body – in particular, of Spinoza’s account of how the mind represents bodies through sense perception. It does not inform us about the nature of extension or motion, and its use of those terms offers little illumination. The real argumentative and conceptual work of the interlude is (...)
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    Spinoza's Physics.Alison Peterman - 2021 - In Yitzhak Y. Melamed (ed.), A Companion to Spinoza. Chichester, UK: Wiley. pp. 240–250.
    As Spinoza's near‐total omission from the history of physics reflects, Spinoza never produced a physics in this narrow sense: a careful and systematic investigation of bodies, forces, and their motions of the kind found in Descartes, Regius, or Huygens. Spinoza did have things to say about extension, motion, and the causal interactions of bodies. Understanding Spinoza's physics requires reckoning with his responses to Descartes. Like Descartes, Spinoza thinks that all and only bodies share an attribute, the attribute of Extension. Spinoza's (...)
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  9. Spinoza's two claims about the mind-body relation.Alison Peterman - 2019 - In Jack Stetter & Charles Ramond (eds.), Spinoza in Twenty-First-Century American and French Philosophy: Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, Moral and Political Philosophy. Bloomsbury Academic.
  10. Spinoza's two claims about the mind-body relation.Alison Peterman - 2019 - In Charles Ramond & Jack Stetter (eds.), Spinoza in 21st-Century American and French Philosophy.
     
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    The World Soul in Early Modern Philosophy.Alison Peterman - 2021 - In James Wilberding (ed.), World Soul: A history. Oxford University Press. pp. 186-222.
    The world soul was often a target of attack in early modern natural philosophy, on grounds of impiety and explanatory vacuity. But it also played an important role in debates about two of the most important questions in natural philosophy: how does nature depend on God, and what explains nature’s organization? As an answer to those questions, it lived on through the early modern period, sustained especially by philosophers who argued that individuals in nature cannot be understood in isolation from (...)
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    The Young Spinoza: A Metaphysician in the Making ed. by Yitzhak Y. Melamed.Alison Peterman - 2016 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (1):169-170.
    What passes as Spinozism in most circles can be found in the first two parts of the Ethics, and even Spinoza scholars can be guilty of making only opportunistic use of weirder works such as the Short Treatise and Cogitata Metaphysica. The goal of The Young Spinoza, Melamed explains in the introduction, is to stimulate research on Spinoza’s early works, both because of what serious consideration of those works can tell us about the Ethics and because they contain plenty of (...)
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