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101. 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.
102. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Anne Davenport Atoms and Providence in the Natural Philosophy of Francis Coventriensis (1652)
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During the Interregnum, English natural philosophers and chymists became deeply interested in Pierre Gassendi’s revival of Epicurean atomism. In the English context, strategies to accommodate atomism to Christian doctrines were fraught with religious and political implications. English Roman Catholics differed from their Protestant compatriots in insisting that God did not cease to operate miracles at the close of the apostolic age. The English friar known as Franciscus à Sancta Clara embraced atomism on the grounds that a new and better science of material causes was indispensable for the accurate assessment of God’s recent and future miracles.
103. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Luís Miguel Carolino Mixtures, Material Substances and Corpuscles in the Early Modern Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition: The Case of Francisco Soares Lusitano (1605–1659)
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This paper analyzes the theory of mixtures, material substances and corpuscles put forward by the Portuguese Thomistic philosopher Francisco Soares Lusitano. It has been argued that the incapacity of the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition to reconcile an Aristotelian theory of mixtures with hylomorphism opened the way to the triumph of atomism in the seventeenth century. By analyzing Soares Lusitano’s theory of mixtures, this paper aims to demonstrate that early modern Thomism not only rendered the Aristotelian notion of elements compatible with the metaphysical bases of hylomorphism, but further incorporated an explanation of physical phenomena based upon the notion that bodies were basically made up of small and subtle corpuscles. By doing so, it shows that, contrary to what is so often claimed, early modern corpuscularism was not intrinsically incompatible with late Aristotelian philosophy.
104. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Richard Davies Mysterious Mixtures: Descartes on Mind and Body
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As is well known, Descartes’ doctrine on the relations of mind and body involves at least the following two theses: (i) the real distinction of mind and body is compatible with their substantial union; and (ii) the siting of the mind at the tip of the pineal gland is compatible with its presence throughout the body. Th is essay seeks to perform three main tasks. One is to suggest that, so far as Descartes is concerned, the doctrine that arises out of the combination of (i) and (ii) blocks off the problems that are alleged to arise for mind-body interaction. A second is to illustrate how, in a certain vision of Descartes’ thought, (i) and (ii) are more closely connected to each other than is generally explicitly recognised. And a third is to illustrate how one grade of mixture of stuff-types that the ancient Stoics envisaged both provides a model for answering Descartes’ demands and has a reputable pedigree within the tradition to which he was heir.
105. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Tzuchien Tho What is (not) Leibniz’s Ontology? Rethinking the Role of Hylomorphism in Leibniz’s Metaphysical Development
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A central controversy in the reception of Leibniz’s philosophy, not only during his lifetime, but also in the immediately posthumous period (1720’s) and more recently, concerns the role that substantial forms play in Leibniz’s ontology. Interpreters like Garber argue that the Leibnizian defense of the quasi-Scholastic substantial forms in the 1680’s-1690’s demonstrate an ontology of corporeal substance irreducible to an idealist ontology. On the other hand interpreters likeAdams argue that corporeal substances reduce to a fully idealist ontology and that this period in Leibniz’s work only demonstrate a modification of idealism. In this paper I argue that without clarifying the ambiguous status of what constitutes “ontology” for Leibniz, the stakes of this longstanding debate are unclearand the anti-idealist position appears to be a self-defeating one. By turning to a thorough reading of Leibniz’s transition from the middle to the late years and noting key turns in its historical reception (vis à vis Wolff and others), I argue that the anti-phenomenalist position becomes meaningful in light of an idealist ontology rather than in spite of it. My aim is not to defend either idealism or anti-idealism but rather to reconfi gure the nature of the controversy concerning substantial forms by outlining the limits of current debates over Leibniz’s ontology.
106. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Annalisa Ceron Leon Battista Alberti’s Care of the Self as Medicine of the Mind: A First Glance at Theogenius, Profugiorum ab erumna libri III, and Two Related Intercenales
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This article sheds new light on the Theogenius and the Profugiorum ab erumna libri III, two Italian dialogues in which Leon Battista Alberti was influenced by Seneca’s On the Tranquillity of the Mind and Petrarch’s De remediis utriusque fortunae, but developed an innovative reflection on the care of the self as medicine of the mind. The novelty hinged not on his pessimistic diagnosis of the human condition, which linked the disquiet caused by the inconstancy of fortune with the natural instability of the mind, but rather on his ironic conception of therapy, which challenged the Stoic belief in the possibility of finding a definitive cure for hardship. To what extent and in what sense Alberti’s therapy exhibits an ironic stance is clarified by the analysis of two Intercenales, the Latin work which aimed to relieve the mind’s maladies through laughter. While Erumna made the case that the way of life championed by the Stoics as well as the choice of living the life of another man cannot alleviate human misery, Patientia mocked the efficacy of Stoic remedies such as patience and time. People can only hope to come to terms with the mind’s maladies and should bear their burdens cheerfully rather than despair of them: this is one of the most intriguing aspects of Alberti’s medicine of the mind.
107. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Matthew Sharpe “Not for personal gratification, or for contention, or to look down on others, or for convenience, reputation, or power”: Cultura Animi in Bacon’s 1605 Apology for the Proficiency and Advancement of Learning
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This paper examines the apology for the life of the mind Francis Bacon gives in Book I of his 1605 text The Advancement of Learning. Like recent work on Bacon led by the ground-breaking studies of Corneanu, Harrison and Gaukroger, I argue that Bacon’s conception and defence of intellectual inquiry in this extraordinary text is framed by reference to the classical model, which had conceived and justified philosophising as a way of life or means to the care of the inquirer’s soul or psyche. In particular, Bacon’s proximities and debts to the Platonic Apology and Cicero’s defence of intellectual pursuits in Rome are stressed, alongside the acuity and eloquence of Bacon’s descriptions of the intellectual virtues and their advertised contributions to the theologically and civically virtuous life.
108. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Patrick Brissey Reflections on Descartes’ Vocation as an Early Theory of Happiness
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In this paper, I argue that Descartes developed an early theory of happiness, which he rhetorically claimed to have stemmed from his choice of vocation in 1619. I provide a sketch of his theory in the Discours, noting, however, some problems with the historicity of the text. I then turn to his Olympica and associated writings that date from this period, where he literally asked, “What way in life shall I follow?” I take Descartes’ dreams as allegorical and provide an interpretation of his curious claim that poets are better equipped to discover truth than philosophers, made at a time when he chose to become a philosopher and not a poet. My way out of this conundrum is to identify in this text a philosophical psychology that I argue is consistent with the Regulae and the Discours, is part of what he took to be his “foundation of the wonderful science,” and is the essence of his early theory of happiness.
109. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Tarek R. Dika Method, Practice, and the Unity of Scientia in Descartes’s Regulae
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For most commentators, the universality of Descartes’s method goes hand in hand with the uniformity with which it must be applied to any problem in any science. I will henceforth refer to this as the Uniformity Thesis. Finding themselves unable to identify such a uniformly applied method in any of Descartes’s extant treatises, many readers of Descartes have been led to conclude that Descartes’s method played little or no role in Cartesian science. My principle argument will be that Descartes did not, in fact, accept the Uniformity Thesis, and that the relevant textual evidence strongly suggests that he denied it. For Descartes, the method is universal, and can be employed to discover scientia, not because it can or ought to be uniformly applied to any problem in any science, but rather because practice in the method habituates the human ingenium to be sensitive to diff erent kinds of problem, such that the procedure for constructing and resolving a problem can, within definable limits, vary from application to application.
110. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Christopher Davidson Spinoza as an Exemplar of Foucault’s Spirituality and Technologies of the Self
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Practices of the self are prominent in Spinoza, both in the Ethics and On the Emendation of the Intellect. The same can be said of Descartes, e.g., his Discourse on the Method. What, if anything, distinguishes their practices of the self? Michel Foucault’s concept of “spirituality” isolates how Spinoza’s practices are relatively unusual in the early modern era. Spirituality, as defined by Foucault in The Hermeneutics of the Subject, requires changes in the ethical subject before one can begin philosophizing, and claims to result in a complete transfiguration or perfection of the subject. Both these characteristics are present in Spinoza’s Emendation while both are lacking in Descartes’ Discourse. Turning to the Ethics’ practices of the self, I show how affects can be moderated through other affects, and that this text establishes a thorough training of the self which will strengthen one’s overall power well into the future. My treatment of the Ethics differs in emphasis from many other readings which focus on reason’s power over affects, or on cognitive therapy which moderates individual affects to lessen current sadness. In both works, Spinoza’s practices of the self promise significant changes to those who undergo them.
111. 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.
112. 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.
113. 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.
114. 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.
115. 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.
116. 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.
117. 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.
118. 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.
119. 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.
120. 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.