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Journal of Early Modern Studies

Volume 7, Issue 1, Spring 2018
The Mathematization of Natural Philosophy between Practical Knowledge and Disciplinary Blending

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1. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Dana Jalobeanu, Grigore Vida Introduction: The Mathematization of Natural Philosophy between Practical Knowledge and Disciplinary Blending
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2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Laura Georgescu Rotating Poles, Shifting Angles and the Use of Geometry: (Bond’s Longitude Found and Hobbes’ Confutation)
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In The Sea–Mans Kalendar (1636 [1638?]), Henry Bond predicted that magnetic declination would be 0° in 1657, and would then increase westerly for (at least) 30 years. Based on these predictions, Bond went on to claim in The Longitude Found (1676) that, by using his model of magnetism, he can offer a technique for determining longitude. This paper offers an assessment of Bond’s method for longitude determination and critically evaluates Thomas Hobbes’s so–far neglected response to Bond’s proposal in Decameron physiologicum (1678), in which Hobbes complains about what he takes to be Bond’s implicit natural philosophy and about his use of spherical trigonometry.
3. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Adam D. Richter “Nature Doth Not Work by Election”: John Wallis, Robert Grosseteste, and the Mathematical Laws of Nature
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Though he is known primarily for his mathematics, John Wallis (1616–1703) was also a prominent natural philosopher and experimentalist. Like many experimental philosophers, including his colleagues in the Royal So­ciety, Wallis sought to identify the mathematical laws that govern natural phenomena. However, I argue that Wallis’s particular understanding of the laws of nature was informed by his reading of a thirteenth–century optical treatise by Robert Grosseteste, De lineis, angulis et figuris, which expresses the principle that “Nature doth not work by Election.” Wallis’s use of this principle in his Discourse of Gravity and Gravitation (1675) helps to clarify his understanding of natural laws. According to Wallis, since nature cannot choose to act one way or another, natural phenomena are unfailingly regular, and it is this that allows them to be predicted, generalized, and described by mathematical rules. Furthermore, I argue that Wallis’s reading of Grosseteste reveals one way that medieval scholarship contributed to the “mathematization of nature” in the early modern period: historically–minded scholars like Wallis found insightful philosophical principles in medieval sources, and they transformed and redeployed these principles to suit the needs of early modern natural philosophy.
4. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Fabrizio Bigotti The Weight of the Air: Santorio’s Thermometers and the Early History of Medical Quantification Reconsidered
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The early history of thermometry is most commonly described as the result of a continuous development rather than the product of a single brilliant mind, and yet scholars have often credited the Italian physician Santorio Santori (1561–1636) with the invention of the first thermometers. The purpose of using such instruments within the traditional context of Galenic medicine, however, has not been investigated and scholars have consistently assumed that, being subject to the influence of atmospheric pressure and en­vironmental heat, Santorio’s instruments provided unreliable measurements. The discovery that, as early as 1612, Santorio describes all vacuum-related phenomena as effects of the atmospheric pressure of the air, provides ample room for reconsidering his role in the development of precision instruments and the early history of thermometry in particular. By drawing on a variety of written and visual sources, some unpublished, in the first part of this article I argue that Santorio’s appreciation of phenomena related to the weight of the air allowed him to construct the first thermometers working as sealed devices. Finally, in the second part, I consider Santorio’s use of the thermometer as related to the seventeenth-century medical practice and his way to measure the temperature as based on a wide sample of individuals.
5. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Grigore Vida Descartes’ Theory of Abstraction in the Regulæ
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I analyze in this article the different ways in which Descartes uses abstraction in the Regulæ, discussing his project of a mathematical physics, the role of the imagination, and the status of numbers. I also try to show that the doctrine of simple natures cannot be well accommodated with the theory of abstraction developed in Rule 14, having instead a greater affinity with Descartes’ later theory of abstraction and exclusion (from the period after the Meditationes), in which imagination plays no role and everything happens at a strictly intellectual level. This interpretation is supported by the recent discovery of the Cambridge manuscript, which almost certainly records an early stage of composition and in which the doctrine of simple natures is absent, thus being very probably a later development.
6. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Ovidiu Babeș Descartes and Roberval: The Composite Pendulum and its Center of Agitation
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This paper deals with Descartes’s and Roberval’s attempts to devise and describe the center of agitation of a composite pendulum. This episode has received some attention in the recent literature. It is usually depicted as the first step in the development of a general procedure for establishing the center of oscillation of a pendulum. My aim is to explore the different physical concepts and assumptions which informed the two mathematical accounts of the composite pendulum. I will argue that force, agitation, heaviness, or resis­tance of air essentially meant different things for Descartes and Roberval. As a result, the physical phenomena covered by the two geometrical procedures were quite distinct, and both mathematicians envisaged different roles of these phenomena within their agenda of studying nature.
7. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Aaron Spink Claude Gadroys and a Cartesian Astrology
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When Descartes made his scientific work public, he ushered in a worldview based almost entirely on mechanical motion, which brought along a complete rejection of “occult” forces. Thus, the foundation of astrology was equally rejected by many prominent Cartesians. However, the popularity of Descartes’ system lead to its rapid adoption by many subjects, astrology included. Here, I will take a look at the curious case of Claude Gadroys, whose primary work, Discours sur les influences des astres (1671), defends a mechanical account of astrology that accords with Descartes’ principles. Gadroys’ Discours employs a sophisticated strategy to rehabilitate astrology of the 17th century against Pico della Mirandola, among other critics. Gadroys’ theory even incorporates Descartes’ discovery, contra the scholastics, that the sublunary and celestial spheres do not differ in kind. Surprisingly, Gadroys uses Descartes’ discovery to substantiate the stars influencing the Earth, whereas earlier astrologers required such a distinction. Gadroys’ adoption of Cartesian philosophy highlights two major theses. First, the advent of mechanical philosophy in no way necessitated the downfall of astrology; instead, it merely changed the direction of astrological explanation for those that followed current science. Second, it shows the selective nature of Cartesian explanation and hypotheses.
review article
8. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Roger Ariew Comments on John Schuster and Frederic de Buzon concerning Physico–Mathematics and Mathesis in Descartes
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9. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Dana Jalobeanu When Mathematics overtakes Philosophy: The Silent Revolution and the Invention of Science
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10. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Guidelines for Authors
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