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Journal of Early Modern Studies

Volume 3
Instruments and Arts of Inquiry: Natural History, Natural Magic and the Production of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

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Displaying: 1-20 of 24 documents


articles
1. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Patrick Brissey Rule VIII of Descartes’ Regulae ad directionem ingenii
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On the developmental reading, Descartes first praised his method in the first instance of Rule VIII of the Regulae ad directionem ingenii, but then demoted it to provisional in the “blacksmith” analogy, and then found his discrete method could not resolve his “finest example,” his inquiry into the essence and scope of human knowledge, an event that, on this reading, resulted in him dropping his method. In this paper, I explain how Rule VIII can be read as a coherent title and commentary that is a further development of the method of the Regulae.
2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Lynda Gaudemard L’omniprésence de Dieu. Descartes face à More (1648-1649)
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In this paper, I shall suggest that, what Descartes supported in his letter to More of August 1649, when he claimed that God’s essence might be present everywhere, was not that God can’t exist without being extended, i.e. being omnipresent, but that God has necessarily the disposition to be extended. If my interpretation is correct, then the claim that God’s essence is omnipresent is consistant with the thesis that God is omnipresent ratione potentia.
3. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Tamás Pavlovits L’interprétation de l’infini pascalien et cartésien dans La Logique ou l’Art de penser
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The authors of the Logique ou l’Art de penser, Arnauld and Nicole, declare that their work is based on the thinking of Descartes and Pascal. However, it is not easy to reconcile the differences between the two thinkers. Several commentators claim that the aim to harmonize produces a tension in the Logique. In this paper I analyse how the Cartesian and Pascalian conceptions of the infinite are being harmonised by Arnaud and Nicole. I argue that they are able to reconcile the differences of Descartes’ and Pascal’s notions of the infinite in an apologetic context. Although Pascal and Descartes use and define the infinite differently, they agree that the infinite is evident and incomprehensible at the same time. Arnauld et Nicole use this characteristic of the infinite in an apologetic context. The basis of my analysis lies in three axioms that the Logique names “axioms of belief.” In these axioms the infinite functions to limit the uses of reason and to show with evidence that something exists beyond the borders of rational knowledge.
4. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Karen Pagani To Err is Human, to Forgive Supine: Reconciling (and) Subjective Identity in Rousseau’s Émile et Sophie, ou Les Solitaires
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This essay interrogates the degree to which the views on anger and reconciliation expressed in Les Solitaires relate to Rousseau’s thoughts on subjectivityand, especially, the radically dissimilar psychological experiences of the individual-acting-as-such and that of the citizen qua citizen. I argue that the conflict and the tragedy with which both Émile and Sophie are confronted in Les Solitaires is cast by Rousseau as a necessary step in their acquisition of a more self-conscious moral perspective that enables both protagonists to articulate and reconcile their bifurcated identities as individuals and as citizens. Through an analysis of Émile’s deliberations concerning the appropriateness of forgiveness in the case of Sophie’s infidelity, I suggest that the very sophistication of the protagonists’ reflections on their unfortunate circumstances reveals their acute awareness as to the difficulties and alienation that inexorably results from the social contract and, it follows, from all contracts that are derived therefrom (particularly that of marriage). As such, the text must be read as a further development upon the principles of education established in Émile, ou de l’Éducation, as well as a devastating and, for Rousseau, out of character condemnation of marriage.
5. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Samuel Kahn Defending the possible consent interpretation from actual attacks
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In this paper, I defend the possible consent interpretation of Kant’s formula of humanity from objections according to which it has counterintuitive implications. I do this in two ways. First, I argue that to a great extent, the supposed counterintuitive implications rest on a misunderstanding of the possible consent interpretation. Second, I argue that to the extent that these supposed counterintuitive implications do not rest on a misunderstanding of the possible consent interpretation, they are not counterintuitive at all.
translation
6. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
John Toland “On the Manner, Place and Time of the Death of Giordano Bruno of Nola”, translated from the Latin and annotated by Bartholomew Begley
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The papers offers a translation, with introduction and explanatory notes, of John Toland’s 1709 letter in Latin to Baron Hohendorf relating to his discovery of Caspar Schoppe’s eyewitness account of the trial and execution of Giordano Bruno in Rome in 1600. Toland, referring to Bayle’s Dictionnaire, argues that this discovery removes any doubt about the manner of Bruno’s death. Toland points out where Schoppe and the inquisitors had misunderstood or wilfully misrepresented Bruno, and then offers a short exposition and critique of some of Bruno’s ideas.
review article
7. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Evan R. Ragland Between Certain Metaphysics and the Senses: Cataloging and Evaluating Cartesian Empiricisms
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book reviews
8. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Fabrizio Baldassarri Descartes et la chimie by Bernard Joly
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9. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Andrea Strazzoni L’Essai de logique de Mariotte: Archéologie des idées d’un savant ordinaire by Sophie Roux
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10. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Oberto Marrama L’essenza del corpo: Spinoza e la scienza delle composizioni by Andrea Sangiacomo
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11. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Charles T. Wolfe Letters to Serena, edited with an introduction by Ian Leask, by John Toland
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12. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Books Received
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13. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Guidelines for Authors
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articles
14. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Dana Jalobeanu, Cesare Pastorino Introduction
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15. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Sergius Kodera The Laboratory as Stage: Giovan Battista della Porta’s Experiments
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This article surveys the vast range of different literary genres to which Giovan Battista Della Porta (1535-1615) contributed; it thereby encompasses not merely Porta’s contributions to a specific form of science, his numerous texts on physiognomics and his influential Magia naturalis , but also his no less prolific literary production for the theater, since I argue that his scientific production can best be understood when viewed alongside it. In fact, when read together, these different orientations his work took represent an amazingly coherent form of early modern thought--although one remarkably different from later forms of science in that it constitutes a kind of performative natural philosophy, which I call scienza. This article, therefore, presents Porta less as a forerunner of modern science, instead situating his work for the laboratory as well as for the stage in the context of a peculiar form of theatricality. In short, Porta’s magus emerges as a very peculiar kind of stage director--an expert in the manipulation of appearances and audiences, and a dexterous creator of marvels. His practice echoes the very modes of dissimulation that were characteristic for the social comportment of a courtier in Baroque culture. The following article develops these ideas by pointing to some specific examples, namely Porta’s histrionic use of the magnet as described both in the second edition of the Magia naturalis (1589) and in some of his comedies, and his method of gathering and displaying fragmented parts of the human body for his work on palmistry (written between1599 and 1608).
16. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Arianna Borrelli Thinking with optical objects: glass spheres, lenses and refraction in Giovan Battista Della Porta’s optical writings
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In the Natural magic and On refraction Giovan Battista Della Porta gave the first detailed accounts of optical effects produced with the spherical mirrors and lenses which had recently become popular in Europe. These writings have received a largely negative treatment in the historiography of early modern optics, which has focused on the development of theories of light and vision. Reassessing the significance of the work of Della Porta, I shall argue that they are a most valuable source to reconstruct how the systematic study and conceptualization of new optical artifacts was a key factor in the development of geometrical optics. Della Porta’s optical experiences with glass spheres and lenses can in my opinion be understood as part of a process of “thinking with objects” similar to that described by Domenico Bertoloni Meli (2006) in the case of early modern mechanics. It was a process in which Della Porta conceptualized complex optical artifacts in terms of simpler ones, transforming them into philosophical instruments whose workings could be subsumed under a small number of rules and providing the necessary epistemic framework in which, later on, the sinus law of refraction could be formulated.
17. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Daniel Schwartz Is Baconian Natural History Theory-Laden?
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The recent surge of interest in Bacon’s own attempts at natural history has revealed a complex interplay with his speculative ideas in natural philosophy.This research has given rise to the concern that his natural histories are theory-laden in a way that Bacon ought to find unacceptable, given his prescription in the Parasceve for a reliable body of factual instances that can be used as a storehouse for induction. This paper aims to resolve this tension by elaborating a moderate foundationalist account of Bacon’s method and by appealing to a distinction he makes, in a letter to Father Fulgentio, between pure and impure natural histories. I argue that the discussions of causes and axioms in the published histories render them impure, since that material properly belongs to Part Four of the Instauratio, but that this interplay with Part Four is necessary for the sake of the continued refinement of Part Three (the natural historical part). Bacon ultimately aims for a storehouse of instances, to be attained at the culmination of this process of refinement, and at that point the history should be published in its pure form.
18. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Daniel Garber Merchants of Light and Mystery Men: Bacon’s Last Projects in Natural History
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This essay explores the natural history project that Bacon undertakes in the last part of his life. After setting aside the Novum organum and the attempt to set out a method of interpreting nature in detail, Bacon turned to the project of outlining what a natural history should look like. Part of this project involved the composition of some natural histories to serve as models of what a natural history should look like. He published two of six exemplary histories he planned, the Historia vitae et mortis and the Historia ventorum. Both of these are very carefully organized works in learned Latin. However, shortly after his death, William Rawley, his literary executor, published Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum, presented as “a natural history in ten centuries.” The style of this work is altogether different from the Latin natural histories: it is in English, not Latin, and, as Rawley put it in his letter to the reader, “it may seeme an Indigested Heap of Particulars.” In this essay, I discuss the relations between the formal Latin natural histories and the Sylva. Appealing to the structure of Salomon’s House in the New Atlantis, published in the same volume as the Sylva, I argue that the Sylva Sylvarum represents the very first stages of constructing a natural history, while the Latin natural histories represent later stages in the process, where the observations, experiments, and other materials collected from various sources are arrayed in a more orderly and systematic fashion.
19. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Benedino Gemelli Bacon in Holland: some evidences from Isaac Beeckman’s Journal
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The so-called “Scientific Revolution” is the result of a complex interaction between the world of ideas and that of concrete human activity with the aim of discovering the mysteries of nature. Not only books but also notebooks mediate this dialectical relationship: in this way, the complex features of a theoretical system can coexist with the detailed observations of everyday natural phenomena (like water drops, or burning candles), in order to test the foundations of a whole philosophy of nature in the micro-world. Bacon himself suggested leaving general observations aside in order to reach closer to phenomena: Isaac Beeckman, in the isolation of his Journal, notes in chronological order his own laboratory and reading experiences, together with his meditations, producing an intellectual account of great cultural and scientific interest, discovered by Cornelis De Waard in 1905, in the Provincial Library of Zeeland [Middelburg]. Beeckman also owned some of Francis Bacon’s major works: from some of the notebook annotations presented in this article it is possible to see that Bacon’s explanations of simple natural phenomena did not always agree with the emerging physico-mathematical turn. Bacon is blamed for the use of old-fashioned categories, like sympathies and occult qualities, which need to be replaced by a fully corpuscular, mathematical and geometrical mechanical philosophy.
review article
20. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Iordan Avramov A Portrait of a Machine, or the Union between Early Modern French Science and Colonialism
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