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articles
1. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Pietro Daniel Omodeo A Cosmos Without a Creator: Cesare Cremonini’s Interpretation of Aristotle’s Heaven
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In the years after the first circulation of Sidereus Nuncius, Galileo’s Padua anti-Copernican colleague, the staunch Aristotelian philosopher, Cesare Cremonini, published a book on ‘traditional’ cosmology, Disputatio de coelo in tres partes divisa (Venice, 1613) which puzzled the Roman authorities of the Inquisition and the Index much more than any works on celestial novelties and ‘neo-Pythagorean’ astronomy. Cremonini’s disputation on the heavens has the form of an over-intricate comment of Aristotle’s conceptions, in the typi­cally argumentative style of Scholasticism. Nonetheless, it immediately raised the concern of Cardinal Bellarmin, the Pope and other Inquisitors. At a close reading, Cremonini’s interpretation of Aristotle’s cosmos proved radically anti- Christian. It represented a radicalization of Pomponazzian Alexandrism. In fact, Cremonini did not only circulate Aristotelian principles used by Pom­ponazzi to argue for the soul’s mortality (first, no thought is possible without imagination and the latter faculty is dependent on the body; secondly, all that is generated will eventually perish). He also wiped away all transcendence from the Aristotelian cosmos. In fact, he marginalized the function of the motive Intelligences by explaining heavenly motions through the action of animal-like inseparable souls although he did not erase nor reduced all Intelligences to only one, in accordance with Alexander. Also, he put at the center of Aristotle’s cosmos the idea of its eternity, a thesis which he explicitly connected with the rejection of the idea of God the Creator. Cremonini assumed that the univer­sal efficiens, that is the efficient cause of all motion and change in the world, is nothing but the first heaven. As a result of this radically naturalist reading of Aristotle, he banned God from the cosmos, reduced Him to the final cause of the world, and deprived Him of any efficiency and will. This essay on less ex­plored sources of Renaissance astronomical debates considers the institutional, cultural and religious setting of Cremonini’s teaching and conceptions. It as­sesses the reasons for his troubles with the religious authorities, and the politi­cal support he was granted by the Serenissima Republic of Venice inspite of the scandalous opinions he circulated as a university professor. My reconstruction of his views is based on the Disputatio de coelo of 1613 and later works, which are directly connected with cosmo-theological polemics with the religious au­thorities: his Apologia dictorum Aristotelis de quinta coeli substantia (1616) and the unpublished book De coeli efficientia, two manuscript copies of which are preserved in the libraries of Padua and Venice.
2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Russell Smith Light Path: On the Realist Mathematisation of Motion in the Seventeenth Century
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This paper focuses on the mathematisation of mechanics in the seventeenth century, specifically on how the representation of compounded rectilinear motions presented in the ancient Greek Mechanica found its way into Newton’s Principia almost two thousand years later. I aim to show that the path from the former to the latter was optical: the conceptualisation of geometrical lines as paths of reflection created a physical interpretation of dia­grammatic principles of geometrical point-motion, involving the kinematics and dynamics of light reflection. Upon the atomistic conception of light, the optical interpretation of such geometrical principles entailed their mechanical generalisation to local motion; rectilinear motion via the physico-mathemat­ics of reflection and the Mechanica’s parallelogram rule; circular motion via the physico-mathematics of reflection, the Archimedean squaring of the circle and the Mechanica’s extension of the parallelogram rule to centripetal motion. This appeal to the physico-mathematics of reflection forged a realist founda­tion for the mathematisation of motion. Whereas Aristotle’s physics rested on motions which had their source in the nature of the elements, early modern thinkers such as Harriot, Descartes, and Newton based their new principles of mechanical motion upon selected elements of the mechanics of light motion, projected upon the geometry of the parallelogram rule for rectilinear and, ultimately, circular motion.
3. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Oana Matei Sur le progres des sciences: Maupertuis and Bacon on the Advancement of Knowledge
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This paper investigates the Baconian roots of Maupertuis’s Lettre XIX. Sur le Progrès des Sciences (1752). The Letter was published almost a decade after Maupertuis had accepted Frederick II’s invitation to move from Paris to Berlin and become the new President of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Contrary to the secondary literature that identifies a distinction between Maupertuis’s Parisian and Berliner phases, this paper argues that there is in fact greater continuity between the two. Based on a reading that empha­sizes the programmatic and methodological commonalities between Bacon’s project in De augmentis scientiarum (1623) and Maupertuis’s Lettre XIX, this paper argues that, in a Baconian fashion, Maupertuis combines the roles of the “scientist” and the “natural philosopher” into an integrated plan of action with both intellectual an institutional aims. One of Maupertuis’s aims was to highlight the importance of observation and experiment not only in the development of natural philosophy but also for some aspects of speculative philosophy, while another of his aims was to reinvigorate the structure of the Berlin Academy and to model it the fashion of other similar European intellectual projects of that time.
4. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Peter Strohschneider Foreigners in Pre-Modernity: On Losses of Negatability and Gains of Unfamiliarity
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The essay draws on the concept of ‘asymmetric counter-concepts’ as developed by Reinhart Koselleck starting with twin-formulas such as ‘the familiar and the unfamiliar’ which are generally used to establish collective des­ignations of the self and others and which institutionalize the axiological and the epistemological. These counter-concepts can have different semantic temperatures. The focus is on the underlying meaning-production schemes which produce value-asymmetries. The essay tries to show that a process of heating up these value-asymmetries is only one side of the history of such asymmetric counter-concepts from medieval to modern times. Simultaneously a cooling down can be observed in written texts from different periods; examples include the 12th century Rolandslied and the 16th century Essais of Michel de Montaigne. Full negation eliminates uncertainties and value insecurities. But the complexities and contingencies that emerge since Early Modern times then lead to losses of negatability (Negierbarkeitsverluste), which in turn render gains in unfamiliarity. The modern experience of the foreign is indeterminate otherness instead of determined negation that characterized pre-modern alterity. Modern societies therefore need to mediate between validity and contingency under the circumstances of plurality. Interpretational demands and uncertainty about the relevant interpretive frames increase. Foreignness is then experienced as unfamiliarity. This presupposes intellectual attitudes like irritability, curiosity, and willingness to learn. The modern concept of ‘culture’ then is proposed as a comparative pattern where only unavoidable structural asymmetry remains. It explains cultural differences and the experience of foreignness through heterogeneity. Using this specifically modern pattern, there is no longer a legitimate value slope between one’s own position and its negation. The distinction is then between the familiar and the unfamiliar.
review article
5. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Grigore Vida From sensorium hominis to sensorium Dei
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book reviews
6. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Alexandru Liciu Dirk van Miert, The Emancipation of Biblical Philology in the Dutch Republic, 1590–1670
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7. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Alessandro Nannini Ursula Franke, Baumgartens Erfindung der Asthetik. Mit einem Anhang: Baumgartens Asthetik im Uberblick von Nicolas Kleinschmidt
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8. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Katerina Lolou Sarah Carvallo, L’Homme parfait. L’anthropologie médicale de Harvey, Rio­lan et Perrault (1628–1688)
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9. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Guidelines for Authors
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articles
10. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Andreas Blank, Dana Jalobeanu Introduction: Common Notions. An Overview
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11. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Günter Frank “Deus vult aliquas esse certas notitias…”: Epistemological Discussions in the Philosophy of the Early Modern Period
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The theory of notitiae naturales or κοιναὶ ἔννοιαι was part of the ancient Stoic epistemology. It served as precondition of any knowledge. Within the framework of the humanist rediscovery of ancient sources this theory became an important aspect of Philipp Melanchthon’s theological anthropology. This paper examines the polyvalent perspectives of the theory of notitiae naturales in Melanchthon’s philosophy and the role it played among Lutheran and Calvinist scholars, particularly regarding Rom 1: 19, where Paul stated some kind of a natural knowledge of God. The idea of notitiae communes or “common notions” as an a priori precondition of knowledge was widely spread both on the continent and in England in early modernity. It came to an end by John Locke’s critique in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
12. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Miroslav Hanke The Scholastic Logic of Statistical Hypotheses: proprietates terminorum, consequentiae, necessitas moralis, and probabilitas
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Among the important conceptual innovations introduced in the second scholasticism era and motivated by theological debates following the Council of Trent were the theories of moral necessity and moral implication. As they were centred upon a view of moral necessity as a form of necessity weaker than physical (and, ipso facto, metaphysical and logical) necessity, and moral implication as weaker than physical (and, ipso facto, metaphysical and logical) implication, some interpretations of moral necessity encouraged the logic of statistical hypotheses and probability. Three branches of this debate are studied in this paper: the explanation of moral necessity in terms of suppositio (Vega, Molina, Hurtado, Sforza Pallavicino), the confrontation over the interpretation of moral necessity (Quirós, Herrera), and the theory of statistical quantification (Elizalde, Terill, de Benedictis).
13. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Mattia Mantovani Herbert of Cherbury, Descartes and Locke on Innate Ideas and Universal Consent
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The present paper investigates the seventeenth-century debate on whether the agreement of all human beings upon certain notions—designated as the “common” ones—prove these notions to be innate. It does so by focusing on Descartes’ and Locke’s rejections of the philosophy of Herbert of Cherbury, one of the most important early modern proponents of this view. The paper opens by considering the strategy used in Herbert’s arguments, as well as the difficulties involved in them. It shows that Descartes’ 1638 and 1639 reading of Herbert’s On Truth—both the 1633 second Latin edition and Mersenne’s 1639 translation—was instrumental in shaping Descartes’ views on the issue. The arguments of Locke’s Essay opposing Herbert’s case for innatism are thus revealed to be ineffective against the case which Descartes makes for this same doctrine, since Descartes had in fact framed his conception of innateness in opposition to the very same theses as Locke was arguing against. The paper concludes by explaining how two thinkers as antithetical as Locke and Descartes came to agree on at least one point, and a truly crucial one: namely, that universal consent counts as a criterion neither for innatism nor for truth.
14. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Han Thomas Adriaenssen Common Conceptions and the Metaphysics of Material Substance: Domingo de Soto, Kenelm Digby and Johannes de Raey
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This paper explores how, according to three early modern philosophers, philosophical theory should relate to our pre-theoretical picture of reality. Though coming from very different backgrounds, the Spanish scholastic, Domingo de Soto, and the English natural philosopher, Kenelm Digby, agreed that an ability to accommodate our pre-theoretical picture of the world and our ordinary way of speaking about reality is a virtue for a philosophical theory. Yet at the same time, they disagreed on what kind of ontology of the material world is implied by these. The Dutch Cartesian, Johannes de Raey, took a very different approach, and argued that the picture of reality we naturally develop from our early days onwards and the language associated with it have their use in domains such as law and medical practice, but are a poor guide to the ontology of the material world. Thus, if we are to arrive at a proper understanding of the nature of matter, we need to move beyond the picture of reality we naturally develop from our early days onwards in order to come to see that the nature of matter consists in bare extension.
15. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Markku Roinila Common Notions and Instincts as Sources of Moral Knowledge in Leibniz’s New Essays on Human Understanding
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In his defense of innateness in New Essays on Human Understanding (1704), Leibniz attributes innateness to concepts and principles which do not originate from the senses rather than to the ideas that we are born with. He argues that the innate concepts and principles can be known in two ways: through reason or natural light (necessary truths), and through instincts (other innate truths and principles). In this paper I will show how theoretical and moral reasoning differ from each other in Leibniz, and compare moral reasoning and instincts as sources of knowledge in his practical philosophy. As the practical instincts are closely related to pleasure and passions, which are by nature cognitive, my emphasis will be on the affective character of instinctive moral action and especially deliberation which leads to moral action. I will argue that inclinations arising from moral instinct, which lead us to pleasure while avoiding sorrow, can direct our moral action and sometimes anticipate reasoning when conclusions are not readily available. Acting by will, which is related to moral reasoning, and acting by instincts can lead us to the same moral knowledge independently, but they can also complement each other. To illustrate the two alternative ways to reach moral knowledge, I will discuss the case of happiness, which is the goal of all human moral action for Leibniz.
16. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Andreas Blank Christian Wolff on Common Notions and Duties of Esteem
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While contemporary accounts understand esteem and self-esteem as essentially competitive phenomena, early modern natural law theorists developed a conception of justified esteem and self-esteem based on naturally good character traits. This article explores how such a normative conception of esteem and self-esteem is developed in the work of Christian Wolff (1679–1754). Two features make Wolff’s approach distinctive: (1) He uses the analysis of common notions that are expressed in everyday language to provide a foundation for the aspects of natural law on which his conception of natural duties of esteem depends. (2) He develops a non-competitive conception of esteem and self-esteem into a cooperative conception, according to which enhancing the esteem in which others are held is seen as a tool for promoting self-perfection. Wolff’s ideas offer a solution to the well-known problems connected with competitive life-styles, and at the same time assign a central role in moral motivation to the desire of being esteemed and of having high self-esteem. Moreover, due to his emphasis on presenting a philosophical analysis based on common notions, he offers a solution that is meant to be persuasive from the perspective of everyday morality.
review article
17. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Ovidiu Babeș The Science of Water
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book reviews
18. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Richard J. Oosterhoff Making Mathematical Culture: University and Print in the Circle of Lefèvre d’Étaples, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018 (Iovan Drehe)
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19. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Guidelines for Authors
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articles
20. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Samuel A. Stoner Who Is Descartes’ Evil Genius?
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This essay examines René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. It argues that the evil genius is the meditator who narrates Meditations and that Descartes’ goal in Meditation One is to transform his readers into evil geniuses. This account of the evil genius is significant because it explains why the evil genius must be finite and why it cannot call mathematics or logic into doubt. Further, it highlights the need to read the Meditations on two levels—one examining the meditator’s line of thinking on its own terms and the other exploring Descartes’ reasons for depicting the meditator’s progress in the way that he does.