I offer an alternative account of the relationship of Hobbesian geometry to naturalphilosophy by arguing that mixed mathematics provided Hobbes with a model for thinking about it. In mixed mathematics, one may borrow causal principles from one science and use them in another science without there being a deductive relationship between those two sciences. Naturalphilosophy for Hobbes is mixed because an explanation may combine observations from experience (the ‘that’) with causal principles from geometry (the (...) ‘why’). My argument shows that Hobbesian naturalphilosophy relies upon suppositions that bodies plausibly behave according to these borrowed causal principles from geometry, acknowledging that bodies in the world may not actually behave this way. First, I consider Hobbes's relation to Aristotelian mixed mathematics and to Isaac Barrow's broadening of mixed mathematics in Mathematical Lectures (1683). I show that for Hobbes maker's knowledge from geometry provides the ‘why’ in mixed-mathematical explanations. Next, I examine two explanations from De corpore Part IV: (1) the explanation of sense in De corpore 25.1-2; and (2) the explanation of the swelling of parts of the body when they become warm in De corpore 27.3. In both explanations, I show Hobbes borrowing and citing geometrical principles and mixing these principles with appeals to experience. (shrink)
The theory of evolution of complex and comprising of human systems and algorithm for its constructing are the synthesis of evolutionary epistemology, philosophical anthropology and concrete scientific empirical basis in modern (transdisciplinary) science. «Trans-disciplinary» in the context is interpreted as a completely new epistemological situation, which is fraught with the initiation of a civilizational crisis. Philosophy and ideology of technogenic civilization is based on the possibility of unambiguous demarcation of public value and descriptive scientific discourses (1), and the object (...) and subject of the cognitive process (2). Both of these attributes are no longer valid. For mass, everyday consciousness and institutional philosophical tradition it is intuitively obvious that having the ability to control the evolutionary process, Homo sapiens came close to the borders of their own biological and cultural identity. The spontaneous coevolutionary process of interaction between the «subject» (rational living organisms) and the «object» (material world), is the teleological trend of the movement towards the complete rationalization of the World as It Is, its merger with the World of Due. The stratification of the global evolutionary process into selective and semantic (teleological) coevolutionary and therefore ontologically inseparable components follows. With the entry of anthropogenic civilization into the stage of the information society, firsty, the post-academic phase of the historical evolution of scientific rationality began, the attributes of which are the specific methodology of scientific knowledge, scientific ethos and ontology. Bioethics as a phenomenon of intellectual culture represents a natural philosophical core of modern post- academic (human-dimensional) science, in which the ethical neutrality of scientific theory principle is inapplicable, and elements of public-axiological and scientific-descriptive discourses are integrated into a single logic construction. As result, hermeneutics precedes epistemology not only methodologically, but also meaningfully, and naturalphilosophy is regaining the status of the backbone of the theory of evolution – in an explicit form. (shrink)
Physiologia provides an accessible and comprehensive guide to late Aristotelian naturalphilosophy; with that context in hand, it offers new interpretations of major themes in Descartes’s naturalphilosophy.
Richard Koch1 became known in the 1920s with works on basic medical theory. Among these publications, the character of medical action and its status within the theory of science was presented as the most important theme. While science is inherently driven by the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, medicine pursues the practical purpose of helping the sick. Therefore, medicine must be seen as an active relationship between a helping and a suffering person. While elucidating this relationship, Koch discusses (...) the fundamental elements of medicine found in naturalphilosophy and the relationship of medicine to its own history. One of his aims is to unite natural history and the history of ideas without reducing intellectual processes to biological ones. Koch considers free will as something intuitively certain. It must serve as an axiom which will capture human as well as non-human reality. Based on the fact that human free will, considered a psychic quality, evolved out of inanimate matter, Koch grants matter (proto-) psychic qualities. They are evoked through specific constellations of matter. – With regard to history, Koch rejects the notion of constant progress. The history of medicine has provided insights that cannot be surpassed but can be obscured. Historical self-contemplation serves as a means for avoiding any deviations which may prevent medicine from fulfiling its ultimate purpose. Koch connects nature and history through the concept of a unity between natural history and the historical development of medicine. Medicine is considered an especially complex development of a purposive reaction to harmful stimuli, a reaction which can already be encountered in unicellular organisms. Without intending to reduce historical and mental processes to biological ones, Koch sets for himself the aim of gathering different phenomena and presenting them in one encapsulating unity. (shrink)
Philosophy of science is seen by most as a meta-discipline – one that takes science as its subject matter, and seeks to acquire knowledge and understanding about science without in any way affecting, or contributing to, science itself. Karl Popper’s approach is very different. His first love is naturalphilosophy or, as he would put it, cosmology. This intermingles cosmology and the rest of natural science with epistemology, methodology and metaphysics. Paradoxically, however, one of his best (...) known contributions, his proposed solution to the problem of demarcation, helps to maintain the gulf that separates science from metaphysics, thus fragmenting cosmology into falsifiable science on the one hand, untestable philosophy on the other. This has damaging repercussions for a number of issues Popper tackles, from the problem of induction to simplicity of theory and quantum theory. But his proposed solution to the demarcation problem is untenable. Metaphysical assumptions are an integral part of scientific knowledge, inherent in the persistent acceptance of unified theories against the evidence. Once this is appreciated, it becomes obvious that naturalphilosophy, a synthesis of science and philosophy, is both more rigorous and of greater intellectual value than the two dissociated components we have today. What Popper sought for could come to full fruition. Problems that Popper tackled, from the problem of induction, to the problem of unity of theory, problems of quantum theory, and problems concerning the scope and limits of physics, all receive more adequate resolution within the new, fully-fledged naturalphilosophy. (shrink)
Unlike almost all other philosophers of science, Karl Popper sought to contribute to naturalphilosophy or cosmology – a synthesis of science and philosophy. I consider his contributions to the philosophy of science and quantum theory in this light. There is, however, a paradox. Popper’s most famous contribution – his principle of demarcation – in driving a wedge between science and metaphysics, serves to undermine the very thing he professes to love: naturalphilosophy. I (...) argue that Popper’s philosophy of science is, in this respect, defective. Science cannot proceed without making highly problematic metaphysical assumptions concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe. Precisely because these assumptions are problematic, rigour requires that they be subjected to sustained critical scrutiny, as an integral part of science itself. Popper’s principle of demarcation must be rejected. Metaphysics and philosophy of science become a vital part of science. Naturalphilosophy is reborn. A solution to the problem of what it means to say a theory is unified is proposed, a problem Popper failed to solve. In The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Popper made important contributions to the interpretation of quantum theory, especially in connection with Heisenberg's uncertainty relations. Popper's advocacy of naturalphilosophy has important implications for education. (shrink)
This paper examines Hobbes’s criticisms of Robert Boyle’s air-pump experiments in light of Hobbes’s account in _De Corpore_ and _De Homine_ of the relationship of naturalphilosophy to geometry. I argue that Hobbes’s criticisms rely upon his understanding of what counts as “true physics.” Instead of seeing Hobbes as defending naturalphilosophy as “a causal enterprise … [that] as such, secured total and irrevocable assent,” 1 I argue that, in his disagreement with Boyle, Hobbes relied upon (...) his understanding of naturalphilosophy as a mixed mathematical science. In a mixed mathematical science one can mix facts from experience with causal principles borrowed from geometry. Hobbes’s harsh criticisms of Boyle’s philosophy, especially in the _Dialogus Physicus, sive De natura aeris_, should thus be understood as Hobbes advancing his view of the proper relationship of naturalphilosophy to geometry in terms of mixing principles from geometry with facts from experience. Understood in this light, Hobbes need not be taken to reject or diminish the importance of experiment/experience; nor should Hobbes’s criticisms in _Dialogus Physicus_ be understood as rejecting experimenting as ignoble and not befitting a philosopher. Instead, Hobbes’s viewpoint is that experiment/experience must be understood within its proper place – it establishes the ‘that’ for a mixed mathematical science explanation. (shrink)
Modern science began as naturalphilosophy. In the time of Newton, what we call science and philosophy today – the disparate endeavours – formed one mutually interacting, integrated endeavour of naturalphilosophy: to improve our knowledge and understanding of the universe, and to improve our understanding of ourselves as a part of it. Profound, indeed unprecedented discoveries were made. But then naturalphilosophy died. It split into science on the one hand, and (...) class='Hi'>philosophy on the other. This happened during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the split is now built into our intellectual landscape. But the two fragments, science and philosophy, are defective shadows of the glorious unified endeavour of naturalphilosophy. Rigour, sheer intellectual good sense and decisive argument demand that we put the two together again, and rediscover the immense merits of the integrated enterprise of naturalphilosophy. This requires an intellectual revolution, with dramatic implications for how we understand our world, how we understand and do science, and how we understand and do philosophy. There are dramatic implications, too, for education, and for the entire academic endeavour, and its capacity to help us discover how to tackle more successfully our immense global problems. (shrink)
The articles in the special issue "Experience in naturalphilosophy and medicine" discuss the roles and notions of experience in the works of a range of early modern authors, including Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, the Dutch atomist David Gorlaeus, William Harvey, and Christian Wolff. The articles extend the evidential basis on which we can rely to identify trends, changes and continuities in the roles and notions of experience in the period of the Scientific Revolution. They shed light on (...) the longstanding influence of traditional views and the emergence of early modern experimental philosophy. This introduction highlights the benefits of considering medicine in connection with naturalphilosophy when studying early modern views on experience and summarizes the articles. (shrink)
This is a review of Peter Anstey's John Locke and NaturalPhilosophy, which is a masterful and well-argued study of Locke's philosophy of science that shall become both the standard and starting place, for scholars and students alike, for decades to come. Anstey's meticulous and thorough research, combined with his comprehensive knowledge of the history of naturalphilosophy, make this work a must-read for all who are interested in Locke, early modern philosophy, the history (...) of the philosophy of science, or early modern philosophy of science. His characteristically rigorous analysis and argumentation coupled with his easy and clear prose make this a highly readable and accessible work of scholarship. (shrink)
The central thesis of this book is that we need to reform philosophy and join it to science to recreate a modern version of naturalphilosophy; we need to do this in the interests of rigour, intellectual honesty, and so that science may serve the best interests of humanity. Modern science began as naturalphilosophy. In the time of Newton, what we call science and philosophy today – the disparate endeavours – formed one mutually (...) interacting, integrated endeavour of naturalphilosophy: to improve our knowledge and understanding of the universe, and to improve our understanding of ourselves as a part of it. Profound discoveries were made, indeed one should say unprecedented discoveries. It was a time of quite astonishing intellectual excitement and achievement. And then naturalphilosophy died. It split into science on the one hand, and philosophy on the other. This happened during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the split is now built into our intellectual landscape. But the two fragments, science and philosophy, are defective shadows of the glorious unified endeavour of naturalphilosophy. Rigour, sheer intellectual good sense and decisive argument demand that we put the two together again, and rediscover the immense merits of the integrated enterprise of naturalphilosophy. This requires an intellectual revolution, with dramatic implications for how we understand our world, how we understand and do science, and how we understand and do philosophy. There are dramatic implications, too, for education. And it does not stop there. For, as I show in the final chapter, resurrected naturalphilosophy has dramatic, indeed revolutionary methodological implications for social science and the humanities, indeed for the whole academic enterprise. It means academic inquiry needs to be reorganized so that it comes to take, as its basic task, to seek and promote wisdom by rational means, wisdom being the capacity to realize what is of value in life, for oneself and others, thus including knowledge, technological know-how and understanding, but much else besides. The outcome is institutions of learning rationally designed and devoted to helping us tackle our immense global problems in increasingly cooperatively rational ways, thus helping us make progress towards a good world – or at least as good a world as possible. (shrink)
We have been accustomed at least since Kant and mainstream history of philosophy to distinguish between the ‘mechanical’ and the ‘teleological’; between a fully mechanistic, quantitative science of Nature exemplified by Newton and a teleological, qualitative approach to living beings ultimately expressed in the concept of ‘organism’ – a purposive entity, or at least an entity possessed of functions. The beauty of this distinction is that it seems to make intuitive sense and to map onto historical and conceptual constellations (...) in medicine, physiology and the related natural -philosophical discussions on the status of the body versus that of the machine. In this presentation I argue that the distinction between mechanism and teleology is imprecise and flawed, on the basis of a series of examples: the presence of ‘functional’ or ‘purposive’ features even in Cartesian physiology; work such as that of Richard Lower’s on animal respiration; the fact that the model of the ‘body-machine’ is not at all a mechanistic reduction of organismic properties to basic physical properties but on the contrary a way of emphasizing the uniqueness of organic life; and the concept of ‘animal economy’ in vitalist medical theory, which I present as a kind of ‘teleo-mechanistic’ concept of organism – neither mechanical nor teleological. (shrink)
This 1983 book is a lively and clearly written introduction to the philosophy of natural science, organized around the central theme of scientific realism. It has two parts. 'Representing' deals with the different philosophical accounts of scientific objectivity and the reality of scientific entities. The views of Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Putnam, van Fraassen, and others, are all considered. 'Intervening' presents the first sustained treatment of experimental science for many years and uses it to give a new direction to (...) debates about realism. Hacking illustrates how experimentation often has a life independent of theory. He argues that although the philosophical problems of scientific realism can not be resolved when put in terms of theory alone, a sound philosophy of experiment provides compelling grounds for a realistic attitude. A great many scientific examples are described in both parts of the book, which also includes lucid expositions of recent high energy physics and a remarkable chapter on the microscope in cell biology. (shrink)
In 1499, while Copernicus studies in Bologna, the commentary on Sacrobosco's Sphere by the Padua master Francesco Capuano da Manfredonia first appears in print. It will be revised and reprinted several times thereafter. Like Copernicus, Capuano has a high view of astronomy and mingles astronomical and physical considerations . Also, Capuano offers a flawed argument against a two-fold motion of the Earth. Multiple thematic resonances between Capuano's commentary and De revolutionibus, I, 5-11, suggest the hypothesis that Copernicus is answering Capuano, (...) whose work was owned by Joachim Rheticus, if not Copernicus himself. (shrink)
During the seventeenth century there were different ways of opposing the new mechanical philosophy and the old Aristotelian philosophy. Remarkably enough, one of this way succeeded in becoming stable beyond the moment of its formulation, one according to which Descartes would be the benchmark by which the works of other natural philosophers of the seventeenth century fall either on the side of the old or the new. I consequently examine the French debate where this representation emerges, a (...) debate that took place along with the development of a Cartesian propaganda in the 1660s and the ensuing official condemnations of the philosophy of Descartes, which was said to constitute a danger for the mystery of Eucharist. But these condemnations pronounced in the name of theology, as numerous and radical as they were, were not considered to be sufficient. They were assisted by numerous polemical works, the audience of which were learned companies of courteous honnêtes gens, and the object of which was to defend a certain way of proceeding in naturalphilosophy. I consequently concentrate on two correlated questions, the question of what kind of ontological entities are necessary for the establishment of a good physics, and the correlated question of what norms should be adopted in naturalphilosophy. I show quite systematically that the criticisms of Cartesian philosophers by the Oratorian Jean-Baptiste de La Grange, the bishop Pierre-Daniel Huet, and various Jesuits, Ignace Pardies, Antoine Rochon, Louis Le Valois, Gabriel Daniel, René Rapin, and Honoré Fabri respond to the mockeries of Gérauld de Cordemoy, Jacques Rohault, Louis de La Forge, Bernard Lamy, Nicolas Malebranche or Antoine Arnauld concerning the scholastic entities. Not only do I contrast their philosophical arguments concerning ontological entities and the norms to be respected in physics, but also their ways of defining the philosophical enterprise and its public. (shrink)
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)
Between 1653 and 1655 Margaret Cavendish makes a radical transition in her theory of matter, rejecting her earlier atomism in favour of an infinitely-extended and infinitely-divisible material plenum, with matter being ubiquitously self-moving, sensing, and rational. It is unclear, however, if Cavendish can actually dispense of atomism. One of her arguments against atomism, for example, depends upon the created world being harmonious and orderly, a premise Cavendish herself repeatedly undermines by noting nature’s many disorders. I argue that her supposed difficulties (...) with atomism expose a deeper tension in her work between two fundamental metaphysical commitments each of which has substantial philosophical support: her monist theory of the material world (which maintains that there exists just one natural substance which is the single principal cause) and her occasional theory of causation (which requires multiple finite principal causes in nature -- causes that might be considered individual substances). Her monism undermines atomism while her theory of occasional cause seems to rest on a conception of nature that would be especially friendly to atomism. I argue further that we can solve this tension within a Cavendishian framework in such a way as to preserve her theory of causation and her monism, but that this solution depends upon our taking her monism in a particular (and weak) form. I finally note that we can best make sense of her unique and interesting form of monism by acknowledging her social-political motivations in addition to her motivations in naturalphilosophy. (shrink)
I uncover here a conflict in Kant’s naturalphilosophy. His matter theory and laws of mechanics are in tension. Kant’s laws are fit for particles but are too narrow to handle continuous bodies, which his doctrine of matter demands. To fix this defect, Kant ultimately must ground the Torque Law; that is, the impressed torque equals the change in angular momentum. But that grounding requires a premise—the symmetry of the stress tensor—that Kant denies himself. I argue that his (...) problem would not arise if he had kept his early theory of matter as made of mass points, or “physical monads.”. (shrink)
Drawing upon John Burnet’s interpretation of mesotēs, I explore the original meanings of this important Greek word and its inherent relations to the conceptsof formal cause, final cause, and actuality (energeia). My investigation reveals the concept of mesotēs as an Ariadne’s thread running through the whole system ofAristotle’s moral and naturalphilosophy. It also throws a new light on the implications of Aristotle’s definition of moral virtue and the essential role it plays in the truth of human existence.
Peter Anstey presents a thorough and innovative study of John Locke's views on the method and content of naturalphilosophy. Focusing on Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding, but also drawing extensively from his other writings and manuscript remains, Anstey argues that Locke was an advocate of the Experimental Philosophy: the new approach to naturalphilosophy championed by Robert Boyle and the early Royal Society who were opposed to speculative philosophy. On the question of method, (...) Anstey shows how Locke's pessimism about the prospects for a demonstrative science of nature led him, in the Essay, to promote Francis Bacon's method of natural history, and to downplay the value of hypotheses and analogical reasoning in science. But, according to Anstey, Locke never abandoned the ideal of a demonstrative naturalphilosophy, for he believed that if we could discover the primary qualities of the tiny corpuscles that constitute material bodies, we could then establish a kind of corpuscular metric that would allow us a genuine science of nature. It was only after the publication of the Essay, however, that Locke came to realize that Newton's Principia provided a model for the role of demonstrative reasoning in science based on principles established upon observation, and this led him to make significant revisions to his views in the 1690s. On the content of Locke's naturalphilosophy, it is argued that even though Locke adhered to the Experimental Philosophy, he was not averse to speculation about the corpuscular nature of matter. Anstey takes us into new terrain and new interpretations of Locke's thought in his explorations of his mercurialist transmutational chymistry, his theory of generation by seminal principles, and his conventionalism about species. (shrink)
This major contribution to the history of philosophy provides the most comprehensive guide to modern natural law theory available, sets out the full background to liberal ideas of rights and contractarianism, and offers an extensive study of the Scottish Enlightenment. The time span covered is considerable: from the natural law theories of Grotius and Suarez in the early seventeenth century to the American Revolution and the beginnings of utilitarianism. After a detailed survey of modern natural law (...) theory, the book focuses on the Scottish Enlightenment and its European and American connections. Knud Haakonssen explains the relationship between natural law and civic humanist republicanism, and he shows the relevance of these ideas for the understanding of David Hume and Adam Smith. The result is a completely revised background to modern ideas of liberalism and communitarianism. (shrink)
Kenelm Digby is now best remembered for his attempt at reconciling Aristotelianism with the new philosophies of his time. In his Two Treatises of 1644 Digby argued that, while the notion of form has no place in naturalphilosophy, it remains indispensable in metaphysics. This division of labour has not received much attention, but we argue that it played an important role in Digby's thought. The notion of form is central to his account of bodily identity over time, (...) but by removing it from the domain of naturalphilosophy he avoids some of the standard criticism of forms in authors like Descartes. In the final part of this paper we turn to Digby’s friend and follower, John Sergeant. We argue that in Sergeant, we get an answer to the question of how the atomic parts out of which a body is built up relate to its form, which had remained open in Digby. (shrink)
It has long been thought that the ancient Greeks did not take mechanics seriously as part of the workings of nature, and that therefore their naturalphilosophy was both primitive and marginal. In this book Sylvia Berryman challenges that assumption, arguing that the idea that the world works 'like a machine' can be found in ancient Greek thought, predating the early modern philosophy with which it is most closely associated. Her discussion ranges over topics including balancing and (...) equilibrium, lifting water, sphere-making and models of the heavens, and ancient Greek pneumatic theory, with detailed analysis of thinkers such as Aristotle, Archimedes, and Hero of Alexandria. Her book shows scholars of ancient Greek philosophy why it is necessary to pay attention to mechanics, and shows historians of science why the differences between ancient and modern reactions to mechanics are not as great as was generally thought. (shrink)
The article approaches the work of Van Breda and De Waelhens with respect to the question of how philosophical thought relates to the problems arising in natural life. Van Breda’s main contribution to philosophy is related to the exceptional natural skills he showed in his rescuing of E. Husserl’s Nachlass and his founding of the Husserl Archives in Leuven. It is lesser known that he also brought E. Husserrs widow to Leuven and rescued her from deportation by (...) the German occupation of Belgium during World War II. Extensive excerpts from Malvine Husserl’s private correspondence demonstrate her admiration for and gratitude towards Van Breda. This correspondence also gives us a good idea of her daily life during the seven years that she spent in Leuven, her strong character, and the reasons behind her conversion to Catholicism. Less anchored in natural life than Van Breda, De Waelhens nevertheless claimed that philosophy’s main task is to shed light on the problems of bodily human existence in its social dimensions and its relation to a linguistically-structured world. This led De Waelhens into a study first of Heidegger, then to Merleau-Ponty, Hegel and Marx and, finally, to psychoanalysis. But his entire work remained dedicated to a reflection on the relation between “philosophy and natural experiences‘. He understood this relation in strongly dialectical terms: philosophy must give natural life a better understanding of itself in order to allow it to play the role of a critical counter-balance to philosophical speculation. The article concludes with some of the author’s personal reflections on what philosophy can and cannot do in order to improve natural human life. (shrink)
The nature of motion -- Causes, forces, and resistance -- The concept of the function in fourteenth-century physics -- The significance of the theory of impetus for Scholastic naturalphilosophy -- Galileo and the Scholastic theory of impetus -- The theory of the elements and the problem of their participation in compounds -- The achievements of late Scholastic naturalphilosophy.
Throughout his career David Hull has sought to bring the philosophy of science into closer contact with science and especially with biological science (Hull 1969, 1997b). This effort has taken many forms. Sometimes it has meant ‘either explaining basic biology to philosophers or explaining basic philosophy to biologists’ (Hull 1996, p. 77). The ﬁrst of these tasks, simple as it sounds, has been responsible for revolutionary changes. It is well known that traditional philosophy of science, modeled as (...) it was on theoretical physics, proved inadequate when philosophers turned their attention to biological science. Biological examples have driven major revisions of accounts of reduction (Hull 1974; Schaffner 1993, Ch. 9), laws of nature (Beatty et al. 1997), theories (Lloyd 1988) and natural kinds (Wilson 1999, Part III). Nor is explaining basic philosophy to biologists a task to be looked down upon. It is useful, not because philosophy has all the answers, but because scientists must think about how to do science, that is doing philosophy of science and scientists frequently reinvent philosophical views with known ﬂaws. Early in his career Hull found biological systematists in the grip of a crude operationalism about scientiﬁc concepts and said so in the pages of Systematic Zoology (Hull 1968). For the next thirty years, as biologists debated the nature of species and the correct principles of classiﬁcation, Hull added a philosophical note at the same congresses and in the same journals (Hull 1970, 1976, 1980, 1997a, 1999). (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-century naturalphilosophy. 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)
In his early career, Charles De Koninck defended two theses: first, that naturalphilosophy and the modern sciences are formally distinct; and second, that naturalphilosophy is a qualified form of wisdom with respect to those particular sciences. Later in his career, De Koninck changed his mind about the first thesis. Does this change of mind threaten the coherence of his second thesis? First, I explain De Koninck’s original position on the real distinction between natural (...)philosophy and the sciences and his reasoning for why naturalphilosophy possesses a qualified sapiential office. Second, I consider De Koninck’s change of mind and defend the conclusion that, even if the modern sciences are a dialectical extension of naturalphilosophy, the latter is still wisdom in relation to the former. Finally, I discuss both examples of this sapiential function and its limitations. (shrink)
When did modern science begin? -- Science and the medieval university -- The condemnation of 1277, God's absolute power, and physical thought in the late Middle Ages -- God, science, and naturalphilosophy in the late Middle Ages -- Medieval departures from Aristotelian naturalphilosophy -- God and the medieval cosmos -- Scientific imagination in the Middle Ages -- Medieval naturalphilosophy : empiricism without observation -- Science and theology in the Middle Ages -- (...) The fate of ancient Greek naturalphilosophy in the Middle Ages : Islam and western Christianity -- What was naturalphilosophy in the Middle Ages? -- Aristotelianism and the longevity of the medieval worldview. (shrink)
Exploring Renaissance humanists’ debates on matter, life and the soul, this volume addresses the contribution of humanist culture to the evolution of early modern naturalphilosophy so as to shed light on the medical context of the ...
The subject of this essay-based dissertation is Hume’s naturalphilosophy. The dissertation consists of four separate essays and an introduction. These essays do not only treat Hume’s views on the topic of naturalphilosophy, but his views are placed into a broader context of history of philosophy and science, physics in particular. The introductory section outlines the historical context, shows how the individual essays are connected, expounds what kind of research methodology has been used, and (...) encapsulates the research contributions of the essays. The first essay treats Newton’s experimentalist methodology in gravity research and its relation to Hume’s causal philosophy. It is argued that Hume does not see the relation of cause and effect as being founded on a priori reasoning, similar to the way in which Newton criticized non-empirical hypotheses about the causal properties of gravity. Contrary to Hume’s rules of causation, the universal law does not include a reference either to contiguity or succession, but Hume accepts it in interpreting the force and the law of gravity instrumentally. The second article considers Newtonian and non-Newtonian elements in Hume more broadly. He is sympathetic to many prominently Newtonian themes in naturalphilosophy, such as experimentalism, critique of hypotheses, inductive proof, and the critique of Leibnizian principles of sufficient reason and intelligibility. However, Hume is not a Newtonian philosopher in many respects: his conceptions regarding space and time, the vacuum, the specifics of causation, the status of mechanism, and the reality of forces differ markedly from Newton’s related conceptions. The third article focuses on Hume’s Fork and the proper epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics. It is shown that the epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics, such as those concerning laws of nature, is that of matters of fact. The reason for this is that the propositions of mixed mathematics are dependent on the Uniformity Principle. The fourth article analyzes Einstein’s acknowledgement of Hume regarding special relativity. The views of the scientist and the philosopher are juxtaposed, and it is argued that there are two common points to be found in their writings, namely an empiricist theory of ideas and concepts and a relationist ontology regarding space and time. (shrink)
Descartes was both metaphysician and natural philosopher. He used his metaphysics to ground portions of his physics. However, as should be a commonplace but is not, he did not think he could spin all of his physics out of his metaphysics a priori, and in fact he both emphasized the need for appeals to experience in his methodological remarks on philosophizing about nature and constantly appealed to experience in describing his own philosophy of nature. During the 1630s, he (...) offered empirical support for the basic principles of his naturalphilosophy, while also promising to provide a metaphysical justification. He offered the metaphysical justification in the Meditations and Principles. and claimed absolute certainty for it. At the same time, he recognized that the particular postulated mechanisms of his naturalphilosophy did not reach that standard of certainty. These mechanisms were supported by empirical testing or confirming of causes through observed effects. (shrink)
Thomas Reid thinks of naturalphilosophy as a purely nomothetic enterprise but he maintains that it is proper for natural philosophers to employ causal terminology in formulating their explanatory claims. In this paper, I analyze this puzzle in light of Reid's distinction between efficient and physical causation – a distinction he grounds in his strict understanding of active powers. I consider several possible reasons that Reid may have for maintaining that natural philosophers ought to employ causal (...) terminology and suggest that the underlying rationale for his views is his understanding of the aims of explanation and their connection to the interests of human agents. The ultimate aim of knowing the causes of phenomena is to mollify the natural intellectual curiosity of human inquirers and provide guidance that insures successful action. The discovery of laws governing phenomena fulfills this aim and, as such, it is appropriate for natural philosophers to employ causal terminology. (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)
Historians have long sought putative connections between different areas of Newton’s scientific work, while recently scholars have argued that there were causal links between even more disparate fields of his intellectual activity. In this paper I take an opposite approach, and attempt to account for certain tensions in Newton’s ‘scientific’ work by examining his great sensitivity to the disciplinary divisions that both conditioned and facilitated his early investigations in science and mathematics. These momentous undertakings, exemplified by research that he wrote (...) up in two separate notebooks, obey strict distinctions between approaches appropriate to both new and old ‘naturalphilosophy’ and those appropriate to the mixed mathematical sciences. He retained a fairly rigid demarcation between them until the early eighteenth century. At the same time as Newton presented the ‘mathematical principles’ of naturalphilosophy in his magnum opus of 1687, he remained equally committed to a separate and more private world or ontology that he publicly denigrated as hypothetical or conjectural. This is to say nothing of the worlds implicit in his work on mathematics and alchemy. He did not lurch from one overarching ontological commitment to the next but instead simultaneously—and often radically—developed generically distinct concepts and ontologies that were appropriate to specific settings and locations as well as to relevant styles of argument. Accordingly I argue that the concepts used by Newton throughout his career were intimately bound up with these appropriate generic or quasi-disciplinary ‘structures’. His later efforts to bring together active principles, aethers and voids in various works were not failures that resulted from his ‘confusion’ but were bold attempts to meld together concepts or ontologies that belonged to distinct enquiries. His analysis could not be ‘coherent’ because the structures in which they appeared were fundamentally incompatible.Author Keywords: Connectionism; Incoherence; Appropriateness; Setting; Discipline; Genre; Structure. (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)
John Locke's comments on experimental naturalphilosophy can plausibly be seen as a part of the physico-theological project of certain Christian virtuosi of the Royal Society to show that the workings of nature reveal the existence of a providential God. As I make clear, Locke thinks that God providentially designs us with limited epistemic capacities in order to check our pride and to motivate us to seek perfection in God. Locke maintains that a true science of nature is (...) possible, but he is pessimistic about the prospects of realizing such a science, given our epistemic limitations. I argue that this seeming tension can be resolved by appreciating that the horizon for obtaining this science is eschatological. In other words, Locke thinks that we will have a true science of nature in a state of perfection, as God transforms the probable knowledge we have of bodies into certain and comprehensive knowledge. (shrink)
One of the most remarkable aspects of John Maynard Smith’s work was the fact that he devoted time both to doing science and to reflecting philosophically upon its methods and concepts. In this paper I offer a philosophical analysis of Maynard Smith’s approach to modelling phenotypic evolution in relation to three main themes. The first concerns the type of scientific understanding that ESS and optimality models give us. The second concerns the causal–historical aspect of stability analyses of adaptation. The third (...) concerns the concept of evolutionary stability itself. Taken together, these three themes comprise what I call the naturalphilosophy of adaptation. (shrink)
Book Review for Reading NaturalPhilosophy: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics, La Salle, IL: Open Court, 2002. Edited by David Malament. This volume includes thirteen original essays by Howard Stein, spanning a range of topics that Stein has written about with characteristic passion and insight. This review focuses on the essays devoted to history and philosophy of physics.
This paper traces conceptual links between the works of Georges Cuvier and Auguste Comte. The primary conceptual link between the two, and the focus of this paper, is the ‘principle of the conditions of existence’. This principle lies at the heart of Cuvier's theoretical biology and it was adopted by Comte, in modified form, to serve as a foundational concept for his comprehensive and biologically oriented naturalphilosophy. Contrary to popular interpretations of Cuvier's thought, it is argued that (...) both Cuvier and Comte understood the principle of the conditions of existence as the basis for a non-teleological form of explanation and a properly scientific alternative to the metaphysics of final causation. This conceptual link is historically significant, for the principle of the conditions of existence was also an important concept for French physiologists of the second half of the nineteenth century, including Claude Bernard, who were highly influenced by Comte's naturalphilosophy. Tracing the legacy of Cuvier in Comte's naturalphilosophy should thus clarify the work of both of these thinkers while bringing into focus an important line of nineteenth-century conceptual development. (shrink)
Drawing upon John Burnet’s interpretation of mesotēs, I explore the original meanings of this important Greek word and its inherent relations to the conceptsof formal cause, final cause, and actuality. My investigation reveals the concept of mesotēs as an Ariadne’s thread running through the whole system ofAristotle’s moral and naturalphilosophy. It also throws a new light on the implications of Aristotle’s definition of moral virtue and the essential role it plays in the truth of human existence.
The history of NaturalPhilosophy is dominated by a paradox; broadly speaking, a vast increase in its range of application to the external world has been accompanied by a sweeping simplification in its basic assumptions. From the standpoint of Empiricism this dual development appears utterly mysterious. On the other hand, Rationalism, which seeks to demonstrate the metaphysical necessity of natural law, and hence might throw light on this development, has been generally discredited, particularly by men of science. (...) It is not surprising, therefore, that philosophical discussion of scientific method has become a Babel of confusing tongues. (shrink)
Harold Tarrant - Plato's NaturalPhilosophy - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45:1 Journal of the History of Philosophy 45.1 150-151 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Reviewed by Harold Tarrant University of Newcastle, Australia Thomas K. Johansen. Plato's NaturalPhilosophy. Cambridge-New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. vi + 218. Cloth, $75.00. This major study of the philosophy of the Timaeus—provided with excellent argumentation, a fine bibliography, and useful indices—is of wider (...) significance to the interpretation of Plato than might initially be expected. Most obviously, it takes the dialogical unit as the Timaeus-Critias, as the majority do today. It does not interpret Critias's Atlantis story as such, for this "naturalphilosophy" is that expounded in Timaeus's monologue, but the Critias is important to chapters 1, 2, and 9, and the groundwork is laid for a better understanding.. (shrink)
[from the publisher's website] Questions about the existence and attributes of God form the subject matter of natural theology, which seeks to gain knowledge of the divine by relying on reason and experience of the world. Arguments in natural theology rely largely on intuitions and inferences that seem natural to us, occurring spontaneously—at the sight of a beautiful landscape, perhaps, or in wonderment at the complexity of the cosmos—even to a nonphilosopher. In this book, Helen De Cruz (...) and Johan De Smedt examine the cognitive origins of arguments in natural theology. They find that although natural theological arguments can be very sophisticated, they are rooted in everyday intuitions about purpose, causation, agency, and morality. Using evidence and theories from disciplines including the cognitive science of religion, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary aesthetics, and the cognitive science of testimony, they show that these intuitions emerge early in development and are a stable part of human cognition. -/- De Cruz and De Smedt analyze the cognitive underpinnings of five well-known arguments for the existence of God: the argument from design, the cosmological argument, the moral argument, the argument from beauty, and the argument from miracles. Finally, they consider whether the cognitive origins of these natural theological arguments should affect their rationality. (shrink)