Nicolas Malebranche is one of the most important philosophers of the 17th Century after Descartes. A pioneer of Rationalism, he was one of the first to champion and to further Cartesian ideas. Andrew Pyle places Malebranche's work in the context of Descartes and other philosophers, and also in its relation to ideas about faith and reason. He examines the entirety of Malebranche's writings, including the famous The Search After Truth , which was admired and criticized by both Leibniz and Locke. (...) Pyle presents an integrated account of Malebranche's central theses, occasionalism and 'vision in God', before exploring and assessing Malebranche's contribution to debates on physics and biology, and his views on the soul, self-knowledge, grace, and the freedom of the will. This penetrating and wide-ranging study will be of interest to not only philosophers, but also to historians of science and philosophy, theologians, and students of the Enlightenment or 17th Century thought. (shrink)
Robert Boyle thought that his scientific achievements in pneumatics and chemistry depended on, and thus provided support for, his mechanical philosophy. In a recent article in this journal, Alan Chalmers has challenged this view. This paper consists of a reply to Chalmers on two fronts. First it tries to specify precisely what ‘the mechanical philosophy’ meant for Boyle. Then it goes on to defend, against Chalmers, the view that Boyle's science does support his natural philosophy.Keywords: Robert Boyle; Mechanical philosophy; Reductionism.
When the atomic theory was revived in the seventeenth century, the atomists faced a problem concerning the status of the laws of nature. On the face of it, the postulation of absolutely hard, rigid, and impenetrable atoms seems to entail the existence of natural necessities and impossibilities: Atoms A and B cannot interpenetrate, so atom A must push atom B when they collide. The properties of compound bodies are to be explained in terms of their “textures” on the famous lock-and-key (...) model. Once again, it looks as if we have a domain of natural necessities depending on the textures of compound bodies. But the atomists seem to think of the laws of nature as radically contingent, not the sorts of things that could in principle be known a priori. This article seeks to address this tension between what the atomists seem committed to by their matter theory and what they in fact say. In my Atomism I sought to resolve the tension by appealing to a sharp distinction between the atomists’ metaphysics and their epistemology. On this interpretation, they remain committed to natural necessity, but insist that we can never do Natural Philosophy in the “high priori” manner, by discovering real essences and their necessary connections. Our sciences of nature must remain empirical. Since publication of Atomism, however, this possible solution of the problem has come to seem more doubtful. Reflection on the work of my three “dissenting voices” has forced a radical rethink, focussing on the problematic relation between the intrinsic properties of the atoms and their powers. If there is no discoverable intelligible connection between what the atom is in itself and what it does, then my earlier solution will turn out to be untenable. (shrink)
Key Philosophers in Conversation is a fascinating collection of interviews presenting the ideas of some of the worlds leading contemporary philosophers. Each interview features a discussion with a key philosopher looking at philosophical issues such as; the philosophy of mind, ethics, science, political philosophy and the history of philosophy. Those interviewed are; W.V.O Quine, Michael Dummet, Mary Warnock, Hilary Putnam, Alasdair MacIntyre, Daniel Dennett, Martha Nussbaum, Roger Scruton, Bernard Williams, Jean Hampton, Richard Dawkins, Derek Parfit, Peter Strawson, David Gauthier, Hugh (...) Mellor, John Cottingham, Adam Morton, Stefan Korner, Richard Sorabji and Nancy Cartwright. This book offers an excellent insight to contemporary philosophy and is ideal for anyone seeking an introduction to what is happening in Philosophy today. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Keith Hutchison has advanced the thesis that the Mechanical Philosophy represents a shift towards supernaturalism in our conception of the physical world. This paper concentrates on one of the great problems of seventeenth-century biological theory — animal generation — to illustrate (and modify) Hutchison's thesis, thereby also serving to locate one role of the life sciences in the Scientific Revolution. This choice of focus enables us to draw heavily on Jacques Roger's seminal work on animal generation (...) to illuminate the change that occurs, within the Mechanical Philosophy, between Descartes and Malebranche. Once the necessary distinctions have been drawn, it is argued, it will be seen that (in one important sense) this is a shift from naturalism to supernaturalism, brought about largely by problems native to the life sciences. (shrink)
This volume presents twenty of the most important interviews the journal, Cogito conducted between 1987 and 1996. Covering a wide spectrum of intellectual inquiry, from logic to metaphysics to philosophy of mind, the interviews provide an excellent introduction to philosophy in the English speaking world at the end of the century. Interviews with: Michael Dummett Peter Strawson Alasdair MacIntyre David Gauthier Nancy Cartwright Mary Warnock Hilary Putnam Daniel Dennett Bernard Williams John Cottingham Willard Quine Stephen Korner Hugh Mellor Adam Morton (...) Jean Hampton Roger Scruton Richard Dawkins Richard Sorabji Derek Parfit Martha Nussbaum. (shrink)
In the last generation or so, the accepted canon of seventeenth-century philosophy has been increasingly subjected to challenge, and a powerful case has been made, by a variety of scholars, for the inclusion of figures such as Bacon, Gassendi, Malebranche, and Bayle. One might also make a case for the inclusion of Robert Boyle, not just because of his clear influence on Locke and Newton, or for his important contributions to natural philosophy, but because of the intrinsic interest and importance (...) of his own writings on a wide variety of topics. Thanks to Michael Hunter, we now have both a new edition of Boyle's Works, and a new biography of the man, which is certain to supersede all previous studies.In this context, a new edition of the Excellency of Theology and the Excellency and Grounds of the Mechanical Hypothesis is sure to find a welcome from scholars and students alike. The former work is addressed to a group of virtuosi who, although still nominally Christians, have neglected the Book of God for the Book of Nature. Boyle seeks to persuade such men that they have an obligation to study the Scriptures and may reasonably hope to derive great profits from such studies. (shrink)
A three-cornered dispute about God and nature Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9481-5 Authors Andrew Pyle, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, 9 Woodland Rd, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.