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1. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Justin E. H. Smith What Is a World?: Deception, Possibility, and the Uses of Fiction from Cervantes to Descartes
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In this short essay I will aim to show that literary fiction is consistently at the vanguard of the exploration of philosophical problems relating to the concept of world, while what we think of as philosophy, in the narrower sense, typically arrives late on the scene, picking up themes that have already been explored in literary texts that are explicitly intended as exercises of the imagination. I will pursue this argument with a sustained investigation of the shared aims and methods of Miguel de Cervantes and René Descartes.
2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Andreas Blank Striving Possibles and Leibniz’s Cognitivist Theory of Volition
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Leibniz’s claim that possibles strive towards existence has led to diverging interpretations. According to the metaphorical interpretation, only the divine will is causally efficacious in bringing possibles into exisence. According to the literal interpretation, God endows possibles with causal powers of their own. The present article suggests a solution to this interpretative impass by suggesting that the doctrine of the striving possibles can be understood as a consequence of Leibniz’s early cognitivist theory of volition. According to this theory, thinking the degree of goodness of something is identical with wanting it to this degree. Arguably, this analysis of volition is relevant not only for Leibniz’s early analysis of the human mind but also for his early analysis of the divine mind.
3. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Ohad Nachtomy Leibniz, Calvino, Possible Worlds and Possible Cities, Philosophy and Fiction
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Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities presents a wide array of possible cities—cities whose composition turns on a productive ambiguity of their being described or invented by Marco Polo in his conversations with Kublai Khan. Implicit in this book is also a theory about how all possible cities are composed. The method turns on decomposing a city down to its basic elements and recomposing it in different ways through the imagination. I argue that there is a close affinity between Calvino’s theory of fictional cities and Leibniz’s theory of possible worlds. The main similarity is that both theo­ries are combinatorial—they suppose that possibilities are produced by combination and variation of basic elements. The paper presents Leibniz’s theory of possibility in its metaphysical context and explores the similarity (as well as some differences) with Calvino’s cities in their literary context. I suggest that there is a rather strong relation between the theory of literary fiction implicit in Invisible Cities and Leibniz’s theory of possibility, in that both define the possible in terms of the conceivable. Indeed, Leibniz often refers to literary examples to substantiate his position, and I argue that this reveals an essential feature of his theory.
4. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Joseph Anderson Cartesian Privations: How Pierre-Sylvain Regis Used Material Causation to Provide a Cartesian Account of Sin
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Descartes’s very brief explanations of human responsibility for sin and divine innocence of sin include references to the idea that evil is a privation rather than a real thing. It is not obvious, though, that privation fits naturally in Descartes’s reductionistic metaphysics, nor is it clear precisely what role his privation doctrine plays in his theodicy. These issues are made clear by contrasting Descartes’s use of privations with that of Suarez, particularly in light of reoccurring objections to privation theory. These objections have no weight against Suarez’s use of privations, but Descartes’s mentions of privation are so few that it is not clear how his account avoids their consequences. Descartes’s brevity seems to have motivated some of his followers to develop creative accounts of the way in which privation fits in a Cartesian system. Pierre-Sylvain Régis accomplishes this task by reintroducing material causation. Régis holds that moral evil has no efficient cause since an efficient cause can only produce something real. Because he holds that moral evil can have a material cause, he is able to affirm that the soul is morally responsible for sin. In Régis’s case, accommodating this theological issue meant reincorporating Aristotelian resources into his Cartesian system.
5. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Andrea Sangiacomo Spinoza et les problemes du corps dans l’histoire de la critique: Essai bibliographique (1924-2015)
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This bibliographical essay reconstructs the scholarly debate concerning Spinoza’s account of the body over the last ninety years. The paper focuses on the notion of body considered only from a physical point of view (without relationship to the mind). Questions concerning the ontological status of bodies (both simplest bodies and complex individuals), the nature of their essence, their power of operating, or the sources of Spinoza’s views have originated a long-standing discussion. This reconstruction presents the main solutions developed so far, and pinpoints the still understudied areas in the field.
review article
6. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Ilaria Coluccia Descartes et la scolastique sur la faussete materielle: perspectives sur les etudes recentes
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book reviews
7. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Fabrizio Baldassarri From Art to Science. Experiencing Nature in the European Garden 1500-1700
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8. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
S. T. Schifano The Young Spinoza: A Metaphysician in the Making
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9. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Guidelines For Authors
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articles
10. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Luca Guariento Life, Friends, and Associations of Robert Fludd: A Revised Account
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In the last decades Robert Fludd’s philosophy has received increasing attention. On the other hand, his life, network, and acquaintances have been investigated in much less detail. As William Huffman rightly put it, “[o]ne of the main problems confronting someone interested in Robert Fludd is the lack of information about his formative years, as well as about his later associations”. Ron Heisler already observed that regrettably Huffman’s own account is not always accurate or complete. Scholars such as Johannes Rösche have recently added more details. The aim of this article is to give scope for further research; it collects contributions by previous scholars and adds details, corrects inaccuracies, identifies hitherto nameless (or misnamed) people with whom Fludd came into contact, and places he visited. It also takes into account current research coming from tangential fields, for instance studies on Fludd’s publisher or on philosophers such as Michael Maier, with whom he is thought to have been closely associated.
11. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Mingjun Lu Implications of the New Modern Matter: A Monadic Approach to Milton’s Philosophy and Theology
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This essay seeks to resolve three conceptual puzzles raised by Milton’s conception of the new modern matter. First, in both his epic poem Paradise Lost and theological treatise The Christian Doctrine, Milton depicts a motive and generative matter and regards it as the substantial principle that produces all manners of life. Meanwhile, he also represents God as the primary fountain of beings. The priority of the primal matter seems to directly challenge the putative primacy of the divine deity. Second, in conceiving of the substantial principle as both good matter and wild chaos, Milton appears to posit two kinds of primary matter, which runs counter to his allegedly monistic outlook. Third, Milton’s monism seems to contradict his apparent distinction between corporeal and spiritual beings as well. The ancient philosophy of the monad as reformulated by Giordano Bruno and developed by the Conway Circle, I argue, provides a pertinent framework for Milton to negotiate the theological implications of the new matter. The monadic model can account for at once the tensions between Milton’s substantial and theological principles of unity, between his good matter and wild chaos, and between his monistic vision and images of corporeal and incorporeal beings.
12. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Keith Green Forgiveness, Pardon, and Punishment in Spinoza’s Ethical Theory and “True Religion"
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Spinoza shares with almost all apologists for forgiveness the idea that laying down one’s resentment of a wrong, contempt for a wrongdoer, and overcoming “bondage” to hatred, must be a primary ethical aim. Yet he denies that doing so authorizes pardoning a penitent wrongdoer. He argues that in civil society, it is actually a matter of charity and piety to collude in punishing a wrongdoer—dragging the wrongdoer before a judge, but not “judging” him oneself. I argue that Spinoza offers no warrant to pardon whatever for those not authorized under civil law to punish. But I argue that the response to others’ hatred and deceit that Spinoza urges his reader to cultivate in Ethics 5p10, along with his argument that one may ‘turn the other cheek’ under conditions of oppression, where no sovereign power prosecutes claims of justice, mandates a broader emergent and reparative view of forgiveness.
13. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Sean Winkler The Problem of Generation and Destruction in Spinoza’s System
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In this paper, I address the problem of generation and destruction in Spinoza’s philosophical system. I approach this problem by providing an account of how Spinoza can maintain that contrary finite modes cannot inhere in the same substance, while substance itself does not change. One must distinguish between the formal essence of a mode and the existence of a mode and how these two entities are “in” substance. Formal essences are eternal and are in substance in a Platonic sense, while existent modes are temporal and are in substance insofar as they are parts of the whole of nature, or facies totius universi (face of the universe). Furthermore, the former are modes understood as pure relations, while the latter are modes understood as finite individuals. Formal essences are relations that specify how finite individuals will behave once they come into existence, while existent modes are individuals that express the relations defined by formal essences, as forces that possess a capacity to act and to be acted upon. According to these distinctions, I maintain that it is possible to develop a coherent account of contrariety and, consequently, of generation and destruction in Spinoza’s system.
14. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Tzuchien Tho Actual and Ideal Infinitesimals in Leibniz’s Specimen Dynamicum
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This article aims to treat the question of the reality of Leibniz’s infinitesimals from the perspective of their application in his account of corporeal motion. Rather than beginning with logical foundations or mathematical methodology, I analyze Leibniz’s use of an allegedly “instantiated” infinitesimal magnitude in his treatment of dead force in the Specimen Dynamicum. In this analysis I critique the interpretive strategy that uses the Leibnizian distinction, drawn from the often cited 1706 letter to De Volder, between actual and ideal for understanding the meaning of Leibniz’s infinitesimal fictionalism. In particular, I demonstrate the ambiguity that results from sticking too closely with the idea that ideal mathematical terms merely “represent” concrete or actual things. In turn I suggest that, rather than something that had to be prudentially separated from the realm of actual things, the mathematics of infi nitesimals was part of how Leibniz conceived of the distinction between the actual and ideal within the Specimen Dynamicum.
15. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Emanuele Costa Leibniz on Relations: From (Soft) Reductionism to the Expression of the Universe
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In this paper, I undertake an analysis of Leibniz’s theory of relations. My main argument focuses on distinguishing the ontological part of this theory from the logical/grammatical part, and showing that several studies of this subject are misplaced. I offer a clarification of the matter, presenting an argument that shows how Leibniz does not provide a unified theory for the two sides of his theory of relations. I proceed to argue about soft and hard reductionism, supporting the former. I show how Leibniz’s “re-writing project” about the elimination of dyadic predicates in the “perfect language” of philosophy fits in the picture of his theory without the implication of a nominalist position. Nevertheless, thanks to the distinguishing argument, I am able to argue for Leibniz’s conceptualism on the ontological side of the theory of relations, without using any logical/grammatical argument. I deploy an analysis of all the core themes in his theory, from compossibility to expressionism, from concogitabilitas to supervenience, showing how Leibniz’s position is neither nominalist nor realist, but rather a medial position that has to be understood in its own complexity.
review article
16. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Sophie Roux Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Summa quadripartita that Descartes Never Wrote
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book reviews
17. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Lucian Petrescu Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe
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18. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Iordan Avramov The Correspondence of John Wallis
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19. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Books Received
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20. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Guidelines for Authors
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