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101. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Fabrice Schultz Alchemy and the Transformation of Matter in Richard Crashaw’s Poetry (1612-1649)
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This paper studies the English poems of Richard Crashaw (1612-1649) from a historicist and formalist perspective. It specifically considers Crashaw’s poetry in its religious but also intellectual and early scien­tific context to investigate the frequently overlooked influence of science on his poetry. Metaphors drawn from alchemy and particularly from the trans­formation of matter to achieve its purification and spiritualisation enrich the poet’s expression of mystical devotion to underline that access to the spiritual as well as mystical union with Christ are deeply rooted in the devotee’s body. Representations of the earth as a chemical laboratory focus on materiality and corporality to emphasise the constant movement animating matter. A form of spiritual alchemy underscores Crashaw’s Christocentrism and references to the metamorphoses of matter consistently aim to express mystical union. A meta-poetic analysis eventually highlights a significant analogy between reading and alchemical processes in order to demonstrate the anagogical aim of Crashaw’s verse and the way his poems work on his reader’s heart to lift his soul. References to liquefaction, distillation or sublimation echo the published works of mystics but alchemical conceits based on symbolically evocative topoï and polysemic vocabulary reinforce the importance of the corporal in the expe­rience of mystical union.
102. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Hasse Hämäläinen Swedenborg’s Religious Rationalism
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This article argues that contrary to a received interpretation, Emanuel Swedenborg’s doctrine of correspondences (scientia correspondentiarum), according to which each empirical reality has a corresponding spiritual reality, is closer to Spinozistic monism than Neoplatonic idealism. According to the former, there is only one substance: God, which we can cognize through its spir­itual and material aspects. According to the latter, the material world consists of substances that receive their form through participation in the ideas of the spiri­tual world. The article will show that although some of Swedenborg’s claims can appear as expressing Neoplatonic idealism, his reading of the Bible as a guide for moral improvement, his rejection of the religious mysteries that cannot be rationally understood, his various examples of correspondences, his view that we can cognize God by studying the correspondences, and his definition of God as the only substance, make evident that he does not consider the spiritual realities ideas in the Neoplatonic sense. The article will interpret Swedenborg to think that the spiritual realities are learned concepts that enable us to describe and experience the world as having spiritual significance and thus acquire a fuller cognition of God.
103. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Eduard Ghita Adam Smith on Beauty, Utility, and the Problem of Disinterested Pleasure
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The large extent to which aesthetic terms pervade Adam Smith’s discussion of ethics would seem to suggest, in the least, that the spheres of aesthetics and ethics are interwoven in a way hardly possible to conceive in the wake of Kant. Despite this recognized closeness between the two areas, one account in the literature has claimed that Smith’s understanding of beauty anticipates Kant’s modern notion of disinterested pleasure. It is claimed that according to Smith, disinterested pleasure is aroused by the harmony of our moral sentiments as well as by the beauty of “productions of art.” By analyzing the relation of beauty to utility in Smith’s aesthetics and ethics, I will be arguing against the attribution to Smith of a specifically disinterested pleasure in our judgments of the beauty of the productions of art, as well as in the beauty of moral objects, such as virtuous character and conduct.
104. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Sorana Corneanu, Benjamin I. Goldberg, Diego Lucci Introduction
105. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Bogdan-Antoniu Deznan The Eternal Truths in Henry More and Ralph Cudworth
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The thorny issue of the created status of eternal verities, a hypothesis initially promulgated by Descartes in his 1630 correspondence with Mersenne, generated widespread debates across confessional lines in 17th century philosoph­ical and theological circles. At stake was not only the necessary or contingent status of these truths, and thus God’s relationship with creation, but also the very nature of the Deity. This was certainly the case for the Cambridge Platonists Henry More and Ralph Cudworth. Both were early advocates of Descartes’ philosophy, while still critical of some of its assumptions. The doctrine of the creation of eternal truths represents such an instance, and it was a highly sensitive topic for both. I shall propose a scholastic context in which to situate some of their ideas in order to shed some light on how this issue was addressed in More and Cudworth. The position where eternal truths are arbitrarily instantiated by the mere fiat of God is avoided by the Cambridge Platonists in two ways. First, the immutable, necessary, and eternal status of these ideas is safeguarded by the premise that they are intrinsic to the divine essence insofar as it is intellectual. We shall see that this raises a question concerning their precise ontological status. Second, the function of these ideas as the framework of the created order is guaranteed by the perfec­tion of the divine will. This will require a clarification of the causal relationships existing between eternal truths, God, and the realm of creation.
106. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Daniel Schwartz Francis Bacon on the Certainty and Deceptiveness of Sense-Perception
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There is an important tension within Francis Bacon’s discussions of sense-perception. On the one hand, he sometimes seems to regard sense-percep­tion as a certain and unquestionable source of information about the world. On the other hand, he refers to errors, faults, desertions, and deceptions of the senses; indeed, he aims to offer a method which can remedy these errors. Thus, Bacon may appear conflicted about whether sense-perception provides reliable information about the world. But, I argue, this appearance of a conflict is itself illusory. Bacon offers us a coherent and compelling account of sense-perception that acknowledges not only its weaknesses but also its strengths. I explain his account by exploring its roots in the atomist and natural magic traditions, drawing special attention to the similarity between Bacon’s response to skepticism and earlier atomist responses to skepticism. One of the key features of the view is the analogy between sense organs and scientific instruments, both of which infallibly register information based on causal principles.
107. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Iordan Avramov The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg and Book Reviews in the Philosophical Transactions, 1665–1677
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The book reviews of the early Philosophical Transactions have not been considered a dominant feature of the journal, and thus more research is needed to enrich our understanding of them. This paper begins this process by describing some of the basic features of the reviews, before moving on to address the issue of how they were composed. The specific focus here is on how Henry Oldenburg’s correspondence influenced the process in various ways. As it turns out, there are episodes when Oldenburg’s exchanges impacted the timing, length, content, form, and sometimes even the very existence of the book reviews. It thus seems that these reviews were rooted just as much in epistolary correspondence as other texts published in the Transactions.
108. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Benjamin I. Goldberg Concepts of Experience in Royalist Recipe Collections
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This essay explores the idea of experience and its epistemological and practical role in maintaining the health of a household among early modern English Royalists. A number of prominent royalists during the mid-seventeenth century British Civil Wars expended quite some effort in the collection of medical recipes, including Queen Henrietta Maria herself, as well as William and Margaret Cavendish, and the Talbot sisters—Elizabeth Grey and Alethea Howard. This essay looks at these Royalists and four of their collections: three published (Henrietta Maria, Grey, Howard), and one manuscript (the Caven­dishes), in order to determine how they conceptualized experience and its role in medical practice. The claim that such recipe collections represent a new, anti-Aristotelian idea of experience as a specific, particular event is disputed through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of these collections. Instead, it is argued that there a number of related conceptions of experience found in these Royalist recipe collections, but the basic idea is one where experience indicates long experience or expertise, an idea that can traced back at least to humanist medicine of the Renaissance, and likely back to Galen.
109. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Diego Lucci Locke and the Socinians on the Natural and Revealed Law
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After the publication of The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), several critics depicted Locke as a follower of the anti-Trinitarian and anti-Calvinist theologian Faustus Socinus and his disciples, the Polish Brethren. The relation between Locke and Socinianism is still being debated. Locke’s religion indeed presents many similarities with the Socinians’ moralist soteriology, non-Trinitarian Christology, and mortalism. Nevertheless, Locke’s theological ideas diverge from Socinianism in various regards. Furthermore, there are significant differences between the Socinians’ and Locke’s views on the natural and revealed law. Socinian authors thought that Christ’s Gospel had superseded both the Law of Nature and the Mosaic Law. Therefore, they endeavored to follow the Christian imperative of non-violence and favored pacifism. Moreover, they maintained the divine origin of political authority and asserted absolute obedience to the magistrate, thereby rejecting the right to resistance and revolution to the political power. Conversely, Locke argued that first the Law of Moses and then the Christian Law of Faith had restated the God-given, eternally valid, and universally binding Law of Nature, which Christ had complemented with revealed truths concerning the afterlife and divine mercy. Thus, according to Locke, under the Christian covenant the protection of the self ’s and others’ natural rights from abusive individuals or oppressive rulers is still a right and a duty to the Divine Creator and Legislator.
110. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Pierangelo Castagneto Algernon Sidney and the Republican Tradition in Jeffersonian America
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During the second term of Jefferson’s presidency, with Europe and the world ravaged by the Napoleonic Wars, it became extremely difficult for the young Republic to defend the principle of sovereignty from the threats of France and Britain. In response to attacks on American shipping, in 1807 Congress passed the Embargo Act, an economic measure designed to convince the two belligerents to respect U.S. neutrality by cutting off American shipping to all foreign nations. This controversial decision, firmly opposed by the Federalist Party, received strong support from one of the most fervent Jeffersonians of the time, Gideon Granger (1767-1822). A lawyer from Connecticut, Granger wrote An Address to the People of New England (1808) under the pseudonym of Algernon Sidney, where he reintroduced into public debate some of Sidney’s archetypal themes, emphasizing the natural right to oppose abusive power and the vital necessity to preserve republican virtues in order to drive away moral and political corruption.
111. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Emanuele Costa Introduction
112. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Alexander Douglas Spinoza’s Theophany: The Expression of God’s Nature by Particular Things
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What does Spinoza mean when he claims, as he does several times in the Ethics, that particular things are expressions of God’s nature or attributes? This article interprets these claims as a version of what is called theophany in the Neoplatonist tradition. Theophany is the process by which particular things come to exist as determinate manifestations of a divine nature that is in itself not determinate. Spinoza’s understanding of theophany diverges significantly from that of the Neoplatonist John Scottus Eriugena, largely because he understands the non-determinateness of the divine nature in a very different way. His view is more similar, I argue, to what is presented in the work of Ibn ‘Arabī, under the name “tajallī”.
113. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Sarah Tropper Expression and the Perfection of Finite Individuals in Spinoza and Leibniz
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It is obvious that both Spinoza and Leibniz attach importance to the notion of expression in their philosophical writings and that both do so in a similar fashion: They agree, for example, that the mind expresses the body (although this claim has rather different meanings for each of them). Another – albeit related – use of ‘expression’ that appears in both thinkers provides a deeper insight into some metaphysical similarity as well as difference: The idea that expression is closely connected with the perfection and action of individual things. While this relation is explicit in Leibniz, I will show that it is also in a less straightforward way found in Spinoza and, furthermore, that the relation of expression in regards to perfection is similar in Spinoza and Leibniz as both of them regard individuals as perfect insofar as they express the world and God. But one crucial difference in their accounts lies in the claim that, for Spinoza, what is being expressed and gives rise to perfection can be privative in nature, while such a thing cannot be the object of an expression for Leibniz. As I will argue, this not based merely on their different metaphysical views, but also on a difference in what can serve as content of an expression.
114. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Andrew Burnside Spinoza and Descartes on Expression and Ideas: Conception and Ideational Intentionality
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I make the case that Spinoza built on Descartes’s conception of what it means for a mind to have an idea by linking it with his concept of expression because ideas express realities in terms of a causation‑conception conditional (but not vice versa). Briefly, if an idea is caused by a being, then that being is conceived through that idea. Descartes thinks of our clearly and distinctly possessing an idea as a sufficient ground for our expression of what we understand. I take adequate ideas to be their equivalent. Spinoza links the connection and order of ideas with that of things because conceptualization of what is caused and its causes have to coincide (the causation‑conception conditional). Thus, Spinoza’s view must also involve clearly and distinctly possessing an idea as grounds for both expression of its content and the actual existence of a corresponding object of that idea. I stress the intentionality of ideas and discuss what follows from it taken alongside the univocity of being according to Spinoza’s substance monism. Put simply, on both Descartes’s and Spinoza’s views, ideas are always ideas of something. Ideas must express the reality of some corresponding being; in turn, being is itself expressive.
115. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Emanuele Costa Triadic Metaphysics: Spinoza’s Expression as Structural Ontology
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The concept of expression grounds a large portion of Spinoza’s metaphysics, giving further depth to seemingly foundational concepts such as substance, causality, attribute, and essence. Spinoza adopts the term “expression” in crucial contexts such as the definition of attribute, the essential dependence of modes on substance, and the striving or effort of a finite conatus. In this essay, I seek to interpret expression as an instance of relational or structural ontology, escaping the reductionist tendencies that would see it as a mere result or combination of “more fundamental” properties such as causation, inherence, and conception. My interpretation of expression as a descriptive structural lens enriches our understanding of Spinoza’s metaphysics of substance and modes as a primarily structural ontology, which can only be read appropriately if its relata are conceived as ontologically dependent on the structure.
116. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Steph Marston Expression as Creativity: Exploring Spinoza’s Dynamic of Politics
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Deleuze (1990) reads Part I of the Ethics as articulating an expressionist philosophy, in which to express (exprimere) is the ontological criterion for existence throughout Spinoza’s metaphysical system. However, he argues that inadequate ideas and passions are non‑expressing, such that finite modes express substance only in their adequate ideas. I argue, contra Deleuze, that Spinoza’s account of the workings of the human mind presses us to understand inadequate ideas as genuine expressions of substance which nonetheless are specific to the individuals which form them. On the same textual grounds I propose that the mind’s expression of substance in inadequate ideas, and thus in virtue of its encounters with other modes, is a source of both creativity and potential instability. I put this insight to work in a reading of Spinoza’s political philosophy, arguing that expression generates a dynamic in which social formations enact and reinforce their own forms of expression, while also being subject to the reimaginations and expression of those who live within them.
117. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Francesca di Poppa Libertas Philosophandi as Freedom to Be Human: Government and Freedom in Spinoza’s Political Work
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In this paper, I will argue that Spinoza’s notion of libertas philosophandi in Theological Political Treatise2 is best interpreted as freedom of expression, in the metaphysical sense of expression found in Ethics I. This reading helps understand the role of the Spinozan state in protecting such freedom. Ethics argues that human nature is embodied thought, and its freedom is found both in rational and irreducibly imaginary cognition: imagination is knowledge, and, as such, it is a fundamental aspect of human expression. The last two books of Ethics show that human freedom depends on certain material and intellectual conditions: this clarifies the role of the state as an active participant, rather than a mere watchman, of individual expression.
118. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Simen K. Nielsen Caravaggio’s The Crucifixion of St. Peter: Spectatorship, Martyrdom and the Iconic Image in Early Modern Italy
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This paper explores conflations of martyrdom, spectatorship, and image theory in Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of St. Peter (1601). It argues that Caravaggio employs an “iconic” visual formula as a response to the pressures of a post-Tridentine poetics. Through these strategies, an iconography of immediacy and presence is paired with a sacrificial subject-matter. This merging united witness and visual experience in the shape of the sacred image. Martyrdom, as both a historical and representational phenomenon of early modern sociality and culture, invoked the act of spectatorship. In connecting the Crucifixion of St. Peter with the cultural and aesthetic paradigms of post-Tridentine Italy, the article argues that Caravaggio’s image re-imagines the codes of iconic repre­sentation. While not a novel academic context for Caravaggio scholarship, I will read this image less as the expression of stylistic tensions in the Roman artworld than as the result of overlapping frameworks—martyrdom, Petrine iconography, and a Counter-Reformation aesthetic. Reenergized as part of the visual rhetoric of Tridentine politics, the icon reflected a new propensity for paleochristian cultural revival. Discussing both the contextual pressures of this new aesthetic regime as well as intertwining it with the increasing presence of Catholic image treatises, the article suggests an “iconic” space for reading Caravaggio’s Crucifixion. This “iconic” framework is built into the charged discourse surrounding the image itself.
119. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Augustin Cupșa Beheadings and Self-Portraits in Caravaggio’s Work: The Faces of the Self-Awareness
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The present study aims to investigate the psychological mechanisms beneath the change in the facial expression of some of the beheaded characters in Caravaggio’s works, starting from The Head of Medusa, from the artist’s youth, and reaching David with the Head of Goliath, a mature workpiece, searching the continuity between them through a series of self-portraits/ self-insertions of the artist in his work. The psychodynamic analysis is limited by the constitution of its practice to the study of the process of image production and the artistic imaginary, rather than to the investigation of man or the artist out of reach by means of figurative and symbolic language. This approach aims to highlight the drives of the unconscious, the structures of censorship and the technique of operating of the defensive mechanisms that ultimately could contribute to the production of such masterful images that are both seductive and confusing. The study incorporates and continues the contribution of authors such as Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit who applied Laplanche’s theory of generalized seduction theory in the analysis of Caravaggio’s works, but also the mirror stage of Lacan and the masterful study of Winnicott regarding the reflection of the baby in the mimics of his mother, an unconscious unclear image that will stand forever for the perception of the self. The change of the affective resonance, expressiveness and emotional relating to violence is natural in the course of human evolution. While not even the artist Caravaggio can elude it, his work can illustrate by deflection these transforma­tions of the dynamics of the mind, it can raise new questions and open new perspectives of understanding the artistic drive.
120. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Daniel M. Unger Caravaggio’s Martha and Mary Magdalene in a Post-Trent Context
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In his painting of Martha and Mary Magdalene, Caravaggio depicted the two sisters of Lazarus as engaged in a serious conversation. On the one hand Martha is rebuking Mary Magdalene. On the other hand, Mary is responding in that she turns a mirror towards her older sister. The aim of this article is to elucidate how this reciprocal conversation reflects post-Trent propaganda. Martha represents a group of believers that remained within the Catholic Church but did not embrace the changes implemented by the leaders of the Catholic Reformation. Mary Magdalene represents the reformed church that acknowledged, accepted, and implemented the decisions of the Council of Trent. The difference between the two sisters is not in their faith. They differ in their reaction. For Martha, faith was blind. For Mary Magdalene faith is an outcome of the deeds of Christ. Martha believed in Christ and continued to act according to tradition. Magdalene’s reaction is related to gaining knowledge and change, which is what the Catholic Reformation is all about.