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101. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Osvaldo Ottaviani The Young Leibniz and the Ontological Argument: From Rejection to Reconsideration
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Leibniz considered the Cartesian version of the ontological argument not as an inconsistent proof but only as an incomplete one: it requires a preliminary proof of possibility to show that the concept of ‘the most perfect being’ involves no contradiction. Leibniz raised this objection to Descartes’s proof already in 1676, then repeated it throughout his entire life. Before 1676, however, he suggested a more substantial objection to the Cartesian argument. I take into account a text written around 1671-72, in which Leibniz considers the Cartesian proof as a paralogism and a petition of principle. I argue that this criticism is modelled on Gassendi’s objections to the Cartesian proof, and that Leibniz’s early rejection of the ontological argument has to be understood in the general context of his early philosophy, which was inspired by nominalist authors, such as Hobbes and Gassendi. Then, I take into account the reconsideration of the ontological argument in a series of texts of 1678, showing how Leibniz implicitly replies to the kind of criticism to the argument he himself shared in his earlier works.
102. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Hanoch Ben-Yami Word, Sign and Representation in Descartes
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In the first chapter of his The World, Descartes compares light to words and discusses signs and ideas. This made scholars read into that passage our views of language as a representational medium and consider it Descartes’ model for representation in perception. I show, by contrast, that Descartes does not ascribe there any representational role to language; that to be a sign is for him to have a kind of causal role; and that he is concerned there only with the cause’s lack of resemblance to its effect, not with the representation’s lack of resemblance to what it represents. I support this interpretation by comparisons with other places in Descartes’ corpus and with earlier authors, Descartes’ likely sources. This interpretation may shed light both on Descartes’ understanding of the functioning of language and on the development of his theory of representation in perception.
103. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Joseph Anderson The ‘Necessity’ of Leibniz’s Rejection of Necessitarianism
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In the Theodicy, Leibniz argues against two impious conceptions of God—a God who makes arbitrary choices and a God who doesn’t make choices at all. Many interpret Leibniz as navigating these dangers by positing a kind of non-Spinozistic necessitarianism. I examine passages from the Theodicy which reject not only blind (Spinozistic) necessitarianism but necessitarianism altogether. Leibniz thinks blind necessitarianism is dangerous due to the conception of God it entails and the implications for morality. Non-Spinozistic necessitarianism avoids many of these criticisms. Leibniz finds that even necessary actions should receive certain rewards and punishments as long as they necessarily lead to a change in future behavior. But Leibniz rejects even non-Spinozistic necessitarianism on the grounds that it is inconsistent with punitive justice. Whether Leibniz successfully avoids necessitarianism, it ought to be clear that he sees his own position as significantly distinct from necessitarianism and not just Spinozism.
104. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Andrea Sangiacomo, Raluca Tanasescu, Silvia Donker, Hugo Hogenbirk Expanding the Corpus of Early Modern Natural Philosophy: Initial Results and a Review of Available Sources
105. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Kyle S. Hodge The Conservatism of the Counterreformation in Montaigne’s “Apology for Raymond Sebond”
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Montaigne’s “Apology” is a lengthy work the overarching theme of which is the relationship between epistemology, virtue, and vice. It is a commentary on the thesis that science or knowledge “is the mother of all virtue and that all vice is produced by ignorance.” Montaigne’s response is radical and unequivocal: there is no idea more harmful; its consequences are no less than the destruction of inward contentment and the undermining of societal peace and stability. Indeed, Montaigne sees the Protestant Reformation as the instantiation of this terrible thesis, with all of the attendant trouble it had and continued to cause in France. So Montaigne inverts the thesis: ignorance begets virtue and (presumption of ) knowledge vice. Out of this inversion he draws many conservative social and political consequences, and this is one of the most interesting and yet underexplored aspects of the text. Montaigne exhibits the conservatism of the Counterreformation in the “Apology,” and I intend to draw more attention to this theme. I show that Montaigne’s main target in the “Apology” was not dogmatism as such, but Protestantism as a species of dogmatism. I then show that, by using a few elementary epistemic concepts, Montaigne launches a withering skeptical attack on the Reformation. Out of this criticism I draw some important conservative themes that have significant implications for our understanding of Montaigne’s social and political thought, as well as for conservative political theory and its intellectual history.
106. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Olivier Dubouclez Descartes et les quarante passions. Ordre et dénombrement dans les articles 53 à 67 des Passions de l’âme
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The enumeration of the “principal passions” in the articles 53 to 67 of the Passions of the Soul (1649) is generally regarded as laborious and unclear. This article opposes to this view and proposes elements to make sense of Descartes’ enumerative procedure. First, it clarifies the nature and function of what is called “ordered enumeration”: it amounts to a methodical act of collecting which must not be confused with a cognitive sequence based on determinate principles. The article also suggests that the paragraph 52 of the Passions provides relevant indications to account for the structure of Descartes’ discourse. Indeed, different ordering criteria can be deduced from the under­standing of what the emotional object is (namely profit and importance), and from Descartes’ emotional subject as a “mind-body union” put into motion by passion (temporality). The article finally insists on Descartes’ main novelty: his forty “principal passions” are not exclusively centered on the ego and his desire; on the contrary, the enumeration makes room for other human beings who, being emotional subjects in their own right, play an active role in the develop­ment of the subject’s sentimental experience.
107. 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.
108. 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.
109. 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.
110. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Sorana Corneanu, Benjamin I. Goldberg, Diego Lucci Introduction
111. 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.
112. 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.
113. 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.
114. 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.
115. 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.
116. 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.
117. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Emanuele Costa Introduction
118. 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”.
119. 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.
120. 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.