Stephen Gaukroger traces the development of Descartes's thought in the social, religious, and intellectual context of seventeenth‐century Europe. Gaukroger describes Descartes's upbringing and his education at the Jesuit La Flèche collège, and shows the role these played in the development of his ground‐breaking work in philosophy and science. The book details the effects of his relationships with others on his work, both through collaboration and through conflict. It discusses the history of the composition of his major works and details their (...) structure and content. It documents the correspondence, which played a major part in the development of his thinking, both before and after publication. The book concludes, as it begins, with his correspondence with Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia on the subject of the passions. (shrink)
This book deals with a neglected episode in the history of logic and theories of cognition: the way in which conceptions of inference changed during the seventeenth century. The author focuses on the work of Descartes, contrasting his construal of inference as an instantaneous grasp in accord with the natural light of reason, with the Aristotelian view of inference as a discursive process. Gaukroger offers a new interpretation of Descartes`s contribution to the question, revealing it to be a significant advance (...) over humanist and late Scholastic conceptions. He argues that Descartes's account played a pivotal role in the development of our understanding of the nature of inference. (shrink)
Towards the end of his life, Descartes published the first four parts of a projected six-part work, The Principles of Philosophy. This was intended to be the definitive statement of his complete system of philosophy, dealing with everything from cosmology to the nature of human happiness. In this book, Stephen Gaukroger examines the whole system, and reconstructs the last two parts, 'On Living Things' and 'On Man', from Descartes' other writings. He relates the work to the tradition of late Scholastic (...) textbooks which it follows, and also to Descartes' other philosophical writings, and he examines the ways in which Descartes transformed not only the practice of natural philosophy but also our understanding of what it is to be a philosopher. His book is a comprehensive examination of Descartes' complete philosophical system. (shrink)
This ambitious and important book, first published in 2001, provides a truly general account of Francis Bacon as a philosopher. It describes how Bacon transformed the values that had underpinned philosophical culture since antiquity by rejecting the traditional idea of a philosopher as someone engaged in contemplation of the cosmos. The book explores in detail how and why Bacon attempted to transform the largely esoteric discipline of natural philosophy into a public practice through a program in which practical science provided (...) a model that inspired many from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Stephen Gaukroger shows that this reform of natural philosophy was dependent on the creation of a new philosophical persona: a natural philosopher shaped through submission to the dictates of Baconian method. This book will be recognized as a major contribution to Baconian scholarship, of special interest to historians of early-modern philosophy, science, and ideas. (shrink)
How did we come to have a scientific culture -- one in which cognitive values are shaped around scientific ones? Stephen Gaukroger presents a rich and fascinating investigation of the development of intellectual culture in early modern Europe, a period in which understandings of the natural realm began to fragment.
Why did science emerge in the West and how did scientific values come to be regarded as the yardstick for all other forms of knowledge? Stephen Gaukroger shows just how bitterly the cognitive and cultural standing of science was contested in its early development. Rejecting the traditional picture of secularization, he argues that science in the seventeenth century emerged not in opposition to religion but rather was in many respects driven by it. Moreover, science did not present a unified picture (...) of nature but was an unstable field of different, often locally successful but just as often incompatible, programmes. To complicate matters, much depended on attempts to reshape the persona of the natural philosopher, and distinctive new notions of objectivity and impartiality were imported into natural philosophy, changing its character radically by redefining the qualities of its practitioners.The West's sense of itself, its relation to its past, and its sense of its future, have been profoundly altered since the seventeenth century, as cognitive values generally have gradually come to be shaped around scientific ones. Science has not merely brought a new set of such values to the task of understanding the world and our place in it, but rather has completely transformed the task, redefining the goals of enquiry. This distinctive feature of the development of a scientific culture in the West marks it out from other scientifically productive cultures. In The Emergence of a Scientific Culture, Stephen Gaukroger offers a detailed and comprehensive account of the formative stages of this development---and one which challenges the received wisdom that science was seen to be self-evidently the correct path to knowledge and that the benefits of science were immediately obvious to the disinterested observer. (shrink)
This edited volume features 20 essays written by leading scholars that provide a detailed examination of L’Homme by René Descartes. It explores the way in which this work developed themes not just on questions such as the circulation of the blood, but also on central questions of perception and our knowledge of the world. Coverage first offers a critical discussion on the different versions of L'Homme, including the Latin, French, and English translations and the 1664 editions. Next, the authors examine (...) the early reception of the work, from the connection of L'Homme to early-modern Dutch Cartesianism to Nicolas Steno's criticism of the work and how Descartes' clock analogy is used to defend two different conceptions of the articulation between anatomical observations and functional hypotheses. The book then goes on to explore L'Homme and early-modern anthropology as well as the how the work has been understood and incorporated into the works of scientists, physicians, and philosophers over the last 150 years. Overall, readers will discover how the trend over the last few decades to understand human cognition in neuro-physiological terms can be seen to be not something unprecedented, but rather a revival of a way of dealing with these fundamental questions that was pioneered by Descartes. (shrink)
The most comprehensive collection of essays on Descartes' scientific writings ever published, this volume offers a detailed reassessment of Descartes' scientific work and its bearing on his philosophy. The 35 essays, written by some of the world's leading scholars, cover topics as diverse as optics, cosmology and medicine, and will be of vital interest to all historians of philosophy or science.
This collection of original essays deals with Cartesian themes and problems, especially as these arise in connection with Cartesian natural science and the theory of perception, agency, mentality, divinity, and the passions. It focuses in particular on Desmond Clarke's important contributions to these aspects of Descartes's writings.
Objectivity is both an essential and elusive philosophical concept. This Very Short Introduction explores the theoretical and practical problems raised by objectivity, and also deals with the way in which particular understandings of objectivity impinge on social research, science, and art.
Stephen Gaukroger presents an original account of the development of empirical science and the understanding of human behaviour from the mid-eighteenth century. During this period science was cut loose from the legitimating culture in which it had had a public rationale as a fruitful and worthwhile form of enquiry. An abrupt but fundamental shift in how the tasks of scientific enquiry were conceived is at the centre of this development, and at its core lies the naturalization of the human: attempts (...) to understand human behaviour and motivations no longer in theological and metaphysical terms, but in empirical terms. Gaukroger explores the variety of forms that this took, in anthropological medicine, philosophical anthropology, the 'natural history of man', and social arithmetic. Each of these disciplines re-formulated basic questions so that empirical investigation could be drawn upon in answering them, but the empirical dimension was conceived very differently in each case, with the result that the naturalization of the human took the form of competing, and in some respects mutually exclusive, projects. (shrink)
In the early decades of the seventeenth century, various attempts were made to develop a dynamical vocabulary on the basis of work in the practical mathematical disciplines, particularly statics and hydrostatics. The paper contrasts the Mechanica and Archimedean approaches, and within the latter compares conceptions of statics and hydrostatics and their possible extensions in the work of Stevin, Beeckman and Descartes. Descartes’ approach to hydrostatics, a discussion of which forms the core of the paper, is shown to be quite different (...) from that of his contemporaries, above all in its attempt to provide a natural-philosophical grounding for hydrostatics while at the same time using it to develop a range of concepts, approaches and ways of thinking through problems that would shape Descartes’ mature work in optics and cosmology.Author Keywords: Scientific revolution; René Descartes; Isaac Beeckman; Simon Stevin; History of mechanics; History of statics; History of optics. (shrink)
How did science come to have such a central place in Western culture? How did our ways of thinking, and our moral, political, and social values, come to be modelled around scientific values? Stephen Gaukroger traces the story of how these values developed, and how they influenced society and culture from the 19th to the mid-20th century.
Experimental natural philosophy was a mid-seventeenth-century development in which physical enquiry proceeded by connecting phenomena in an experimentally guided fashion, as opposed to attempting to account for them in terms of some underlying micro-corpuscular structure. The approach proved fruitful in two areas: Boyle’s experiments on the air pump and Newton’s experiments on the prism. This chapter argues that Lockean empiricism, which was subsequently taken to embody the principles behind Newtonianism, was an outcome of these developments and that it was worked (...) into an epistemological doctrine only when Locke encountered Malebranche’s vindication of the sole legitimacy of micro-corpuscularian explanation. The chapter reveals a form of empiricism—empiricism as a successor to, and refinement of, seventeenth-century experimental natural philosophy—which is intimately tied up with natural-philosophical practice, and is quite distinct from the speculative epistemology to which it is reduced in the rationalism and empiricism debates. (shrink)
In this groundbreaking collection of essays the history of philosophy appears in a new light, not as reason's progressive discovery of its universal conditions, but as a series of unreconciled disputes over the proper way to conduct oneself as a philosopher. By shifting focus from the philosopher as proxy for the universal subject of reason to the philosopher as a special persona arising from rival forms of self-cultivation, philosophy is approached in terms of the social office and intellectual deportment of (...) the philosopher, as a personage with a definite moral physiognomy and institutional setting. In so doing, this collection of essays by leading figures in the fields of both philosophy and the history of ideas provides access to key early modern disputes over what it meant to be a philosopher, and to the institutional and larger political and religious contexts in which such disputes took place. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Knowledge: A History presents the history of one of Western philosophy's greatest challenges: understanding the nature of knowledge. Divided chronologically into four volumes, it follows conceptions of knowledge that have been proposed, defended, replaced, and proposed anew by ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophers. This volume covers questions of science and religion in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and the work of Descartes, Hobbes, Kant and Leibniz. With original insights into the vast sweep of ways in (...) which philosophers have sought to understand knowledge, The Philosophy of Knowledge: A History embraces what is vital and evolving within contemporary epistemology. Overseen by an international team of leading philosophers and featuring 50 specially-commissioned chapters, this is a major collection on one of philosophy's defining topics. (shrink)
First published in 1997, this volume expands the analytical philosophical tradition in the face of parochial Anglo-American philosophical interests. The essays making up the section on 'Antiquity' share one concern: to show that there are largely unrecognised but radical differences between the way in which certain fundamental questions - concerning the nature of number, sense perception, and scepticism - were thought of in antiquity and the way in which they were thought of from the 17th century onwards. Part 2, on (...) early modern thought, explores the theoretical characterisation of the role of experiment in early modern physical theory through Galileo's embracing of experiments, along with Descartes' automata and issues in a relatively neglected but especially intractable part of Descartes' philosophy: how he conceives of what a successful inference consists in and what it is that makes it successful. The final section deals with the philosophical foundations of physical theory, the distinction between the human and the natural sciences, the philosophical-cum-scientific foundations of Marx's idea of socialism, and Nietzche's criticisms of the very notion of science, concluding that Nietzsche's probing questions cannot be dismissed, as he has opened up some genuinely challenging issues which we ignore at our peril. (shrink)
This book provides a valuable understanding on the different views of the passions in the Seventeenth Century. The contributors show that fundamental questions about the nature of wisdom, goodness and beauty were understood in terms of the contrast between reason and passions in this era. Those with an interest in philosophy, the history of medicene, and women's studies will find this collection a fascinating read.
Consisting of twelve newly commissioned essays and enhanced by William Molyneux’s famous early translation of the _Meditations_, this volume touches on all the major themes of one of the most influential texts in the history of philosophy. Situates the Meditations in its philosophical and historical context. Touches on all of the major themes of the Meditations, including the mind-body relation, the nature of the mind, and the existence of the material world.
The institutionalization of History and Philosophy of Science as a distinct field of scholarly endeavour began comparatively earl- though not always under that name - in the Australasian region. An initial lecturing appointment was made at the University of Melbourne immediately after the Second World War, in 1946, and other appoint ments followed as the subject underwent an expansion during the 1950s and 1960s similar to that which took place in other parts of the world. Today there are major Departments (...) at the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales and the University of W ollongong, and smaller groups active in many other parts of Australia and in New Zealand. 'Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science' aims to provide a distinctive pUblication outlet for Australian and New Zealand scholars working in the general area of history, philosophy and social studies of science. Each volume comprises a group of essays on a connected theme, edited by an Australian or a New Zealander with special expertise in that particular area. Papers address general issues, however, rather than local ones; parochial topics are avoided. Further more, though in each volume a majority of the contributors is from Australia or New Zealand, contributions from elsewhere are by no means ruled out. Quite the reverse, in fact - they are actively encouraged wherever appropriate to the balance of the volume in question. (shrink)
Contrary to most modern interpretations, in the early modern period, history was an indispensable resource for many philosophers. The different uses of history by Bacon, Gassendi, Locke, and Hume are explored to establish the role of history as a resource in early-modern philosophy.
In this paper I want to examine in some detail one eighteenth-century attempt to restructure the foundations of mechanics, that of Leonhard Euler. It is now generally recognized that the idea, due to Mach, that all that happened in the eighteenth century was the elaboration of a deductive and mathematical mechanics on the basis of Newton's Laws is misleading at best. Newton's Principia needed much more than a reformulation in analytic terms if it was to provide the basis for the (...) comprehensive mechanics that was developed in the eighteenth century. Book II of the Principia, in particular, where the problem of the resistance offered to the motion of a finite body by a fluid medium was raised, was generally thought to be in large part mistaken and confused. There were also a number of areas crucial to the unification of mechanics which Newton did not deal with at all in the Principia: particularly the dynamics of rigid, flexible and elastic bodies, and the dynamics of several bodies with mutual interactions. Although a start had been made on some of these topics in the seventeenth century , it was only in the eighteenth century that they were subjected to detailed examination, and Euler's contribution to the development of these topics, and hence to the unification of mechanics, was immense. (shrink)
Descartes' The World offers the most comprehensive vision of the nature of the world since Aristotle, and is crucial for an understanding of his later writings, in particular the Meditations and Principles of Philosophy. Above all, it provides an insight into how Descartes conceived of natural philosophy before he started to reformulate his doctrines in terms of a sceptically driven epistemology. Of its two parts, the Treatise on Light introduced the first comprehensive, quantitative version of a mechanistic natural philosophy, supplying (...) a theory of matter, a physical optics, and a cosmology. The Treatise on Man provided the first comprehensive mechanist physiology. This volume also includes translations of material important for an understanding of the work: related sections from the Dioptrics and the Meteors, and an English translation of the complete text of The Description of the Human Body. (shrink)
French culture is unique in that philosophy has played a significant role from the early-modern period onwards, intimately associated with political, religious, and literary debates, as well as with epistemological and scientific ones. While Latin was the language of learning there was a universal philosophical literature, but with the rise of vernacular literatures things changed and a distinctive national form of philosophy arose in France. This Very Short Introduction covers French philosophy from its origins in the sixteenth century up to (...) the present, analysing it within its social, political, and cultural context. Beginning with psychology and epistemology, Stephen Gaukroger and Knox Peden then move onto the emergence of radical philosophy in the eighteenth century, before considering post-revolutionary philosophy in the nineteenth century, philosophy in the world wars, the radical thought of the 1960s, and finally French philosophy today. Throughout, they explore the dilemma sustained by the markedly national conception of French philosophy, and its history of speaking out on matters of universal concern. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. -- Provided by publisher. (shrink)
The first book to address the historical failures of philosophy—and what we can learn from them Philosophers are generally unaware of the failures of philosophy, recognizing only the failures of particular theories, which are then remedied with other theories. But, taking the long view, philosophy has actually collapsed several times, been abandoned, sometimes for centuries, and been replaced by something quite different. When it has been revived it has been with new aims that are often accompanied by implausible attempts to (...) establish continuity with a perennial philosophical tradition. What do these failures tell us? The Failures of Philosophy presents a historical investigation of philosophy in the West, from the perspective of its most significant failures: attempts to provide an account of the good life, to establish philosophy as a discipline that can stand in judgment over other forms of thought, to set up philosophy as a theory of everything, and to construe it as a discipline that rationalizes the empirical and mathematical sciences. Stephen Gaukroger argues that these failures reveal more about philosophical enquiry and its ultimate point than its successes ever could. These failures illustrate how and why philosophical inquiry has been conceived and reconceived, why philosophy has been thought to bring distinctive skills to certain questions, and much more. An important and original account of philosophy’s serial breakdowns, The Failures of Philosophy ultimately shows how these shortcomings paradoxically reveal what matters most about the field. (shrink)