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21. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Silvia Manzo The Preservation of the Whole and the Teleology of Nature in Late Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern Debates on the Void
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This study shows that an important number of late medieval, Renaissance and early modern authors postulated the same teleological principle in order to argue both for and against the existence of the vacuum. That postulate, which I call the “principle of subordination,” holds that in order to preserve the good of nature, the particular and specific natures must be subordinated to the common and universal nature. In other words, in order to preserve nature as a whole, the individual tendencies of bodies must be subordinated to the general tendency of nature. Throughout the wide range of cases addressed in this study, a continuity is observed in the rationales underlying the discussions about the existence of the vacuum. All of them, tacitly or not, ascribed to nature the teleological principle of subordination, mostly by interpreting traditional experimental instances. Although this continuity is clearly recognizable, variations in nuances and details are also present, owing to the various contexts within which each response to the question of the existence of a vacuum emerged.
22. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Benedino Gemelli Bacon in Holland: some evidences from Isaac Beeckman’s Journal
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The so-called “Scientific Revolution” is the result of a complex interaction between the world of ideas and that of concrete human activity with the aim of discovering the mysteries of nature. Not only books but also notebooks mediate this dialectical relationship: in this way, the complex features of a theoretical system can coexist with the detailed observations of everyday natural phenomena (like water drops, or burning candles), in order to test the foundations of a whole philosophy of nature in the micro-world. Bacon himself suggested leaving general observations aside in order to reach closer to phenomena: Isaac Beeckman, in the isolation of his Journal, notes in chronological order his own laboratory and reading experiences, together with his meditations, producing an intellectual account of great cultural and scientific interest, discovered by Cornelis De Waard in 1905, in the Provincial Library of Zeeland [Middelburg]. Beeckman also owned some of Francis Bacon’s major works: from some of the notebook annotations presented in this article it is possible to see that Bacon’s explanations of simple natural phenomena did not always agree with the emerging physico-mathematical turn. Bacon is blamed for the use of old-fashioned categories, like sympathies and occult qualities, which need to be replaced by a fully corpuscular, mathematical and geometrical mechanical philosophy.
23. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Daniel Garber Merchants of Light and Mystery Men: Bacon’s Last Projects in Natural History
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This essay explores the natural history project that Bacon undertakes in the last part of his life. After setting aside the Novum organum and the attempt to set out a method of interpreting nature in detail, Bacon turned to the project of outlining what a natural history should look like. Part of this project involved the composition of some natural histories to serve as models of what a natural history should look like. He published two of six exemplary histories he planned, the Historia vitae et mortis and the Historia ventorum. Both of these are very carefully organized works in learned Latin. However, shortly after his death, William Rawley, his literary executor, published Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum, presented as “a natural history in ten centuries.” The style of this work is altogether different from the Latin natural histories: it is in English, not Latin, and, as Rawley put it in his letter to the reader, “it may seeme an Indigested Heap of Particulars.” In this essay, I discuss the relations between the formal Latin natural histories and the Sylva. Appealing to the structure of Salomon’s House in the New Atlantis, published in the same volume as the Sylva, I argue that the Sylva Sylvarum represents the very first stages of constructing a natural history, while the Latin natural histories represent later stages in the process, where the observations, experiments, and other materials collected from various sources are arrayed in a more orderly and systematic fashion.
24. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Arianna Borrelli Thinking with optical objects: glass spheres, lenses and refraction in Giovan Battista Della Porta’s optical writings
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In the Natural magic and On refraction Giovan Battista Della Porta gave the first detailed accounts of optical effects produced with the spherical mirrors and lenses which had recently become popular in Europe. These writings have received a largely negative treatment in the historiography of early modern optics, which has focused on the development of theories of light and vision. Reassessing the significance of the work of Della Porta, I shall argue that they are a most valuable source to reconstruct how the systematic study and conceptualization of new optical artifacts was a key factor in the development of geometrical optics. Della Porta’s optical experiences with glass spheres and lenses can in my opinion be understood as part of a process of “thinking with objects” similar to that described by Domenico Bertoloni Meli (2006) in the case of early modern mechanics. It was a process in which Della Porta conceptualized complex optical artifacts in terms of simpler ones, transforming them into philosophical instruments whose workings could be subsumed under a small number of rules and providing the necessary epistemic framework in which, later on, the sinus law of refraction could be formulated.
25. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Dana Jalobeanu, Cesare Pastorino Introduction
26. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Daniel Schwartz Is Baconian Natural History Theory-Laden?
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The recent surge of interest in Bacon’s own attempts at natural history has revealed a complex interplay with his speculative ideas in natural philosophy.This research has given rise to the concern that his natural histories are theory-laden in a way that Bacon ought to find unacceptable, given his prescription in the Parasceve for a reliable body of factual instances that can be used as a storehouse for induction. This paper aims to resolve this tension by elaborating a moderate foundationalist account of Bacon’s method and by appealing to a distinction he makes, in a letter to Father Fulgentio, between pure and impure natural histories. I argue that the discussions of causes and axioms in the published histories render them impure, since that material properly belongs to Part Four of the Instauratio, but that this interplay with Part Four is necessary for the sake of the continued refinement of Part Three (the natural historical part). Bacon ultimately aims for a storehouse of instances, to be attained at the culmination of this process of refinement, and at that point the history should be published in its pure form.
27. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Sergius Kodera The Laboratory as Stage: Giovan Battista della Porta’s Experiments
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This article surveys the vast range of different literary genres to which Giovan Battista Della Porta (1535-1615) contributed; it thereby encompasses not merely Porta’s contributions to a specific form of science, his numerous texts on physiognomics and his influential Magia naturalis , but also his no less prolific literary production for the theater, since I argue that his scientific production can best be understood when viewed alongside it. In fact, when read together, these different orientations his work took represent an amazingly coherent form of early modern thought--although one remarkably different from later forms of science in that it constitutes a kind of performative natural philosophy, which I call scienza. This article, therefore, presents Porta less as a forerunner of modern science, instead situating his work for the laboratory as well as for the stage in the context of a peculiar form of theatricality. In short, Porta’s magus emerges as a very peculiar kind of stage director--an expert in the manipulation of appearances and audiences, and a dexterous creator of marvels. His practice echoes the very modes of dissimulation that were characteristic for the social comportment of a courtier in Baroque culture. The following article develops these ideas by pointing to some specific examples, namely Porta’s histrionic use of the magnet as described both in the second edition of the Magia naturalis (1589) and in some of his comedies, and his method of gathering and displaying fragmented parts of the human body for his work on palmistry (written between1599 and 1608).
28. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Lynda Gaudemard L’omniprésence de Dieu. Descartes face à More (1648-1649)
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In this paper, I shall suggest that, what Descartes supported in his letter to More of August 1649, when he claimed that God’s essence might be present everywhere, was not that God can’t exist without being extended, i.e. being omnipresent, but that God has necessarily the disposition to be extended. If my interpretation is correct, then the claim that God’s essence is omnipresent is consistant with the thesis that God is omnipresent ratione potentia.
29. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Samuel Kahn Defending the possible consent interpretation from actual attacks
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In this paper, I defend the possible consent interpretation of Kant’s formula of humanity from objections according to which it has counterintuitive implications. I do this in two ways. First, I argue that to a great extent, the supposed counterintuitive implications rest on a misunderstanding of the possible consent interpretation. Second, I argue that to the extent that these supposed counterintuitive implications do not rest on a misunderstanding of the possible consent interpretation, they are not counterintuitive at all.
30. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Tamás Pavlovits L’interprétation de l’infini pascalien et cartésien dans La Logique ou l’Art de penser
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The authors of the Logique ou l’Art de penser, Arnauld and Nicole, declare that their work is based on the thinking of Descartes and Pascal. However, it is not easy to reconcile the differences between the two thinkers. Several commentators claim that the aim to harmonize produces a tension in the Logique. In this paper I analyse how the Cartesian and Pascalian conceptions of the infinite are being harmonised by Arnaud and Nicole. I argue that they are able to reconcile the differences of Descartes’ and Pascal’s notions of the infinite in an apologetic context. Although Pascal and Descartes use and define the infinite differently, they agree that the infinite is evident and incomprehensible at the same time. Arnauld et Nicole use this characteristic of the infinite in an apologetic context. The basis of my analysis lies in three axioms that the Logique names “axioms of belief.” In these axioms the infinite functions to limit the uses of reason and to show with evidence that something exists beyond the borders of rational knowledge.
31. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Patrick Brissey Rule VIII of Descartes’ Regulae ad directionem ingenii
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On the developmental reading, Descartes first praised his method in the first instance of Rule VIII of the Regulae ad directionem ingenii, but then demoted it to provisional in the “blacksmith” analogy, and then found his discrete method could not resolve his “finest example,” his inquiry into the essence and scope of human knowledge, an event that, on this reading, resulted in him dropping his method. In this paper, I explain how Rule VIII can be read as a coherent title and commentary that is a further development of the method of the Regulae.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. 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.
36. 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.
37. 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.
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.