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81. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Andreas Blank Christian Wolff on Common Notions and Duties of Esteem
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While contemporary accounts understand esteem and self-esteem as essentially competitive phenomena, early modern natural law theorists developed a conception of justified esteem and self-esteem based on naturally good character traits. This article explores how such a normative conception of esteem and self-esteem is developed in the work of Christian Wolff (1679–1754). Two features make Wolff’s approach distinctive: (1) He uses the analysis of common notions that are expressed in everyday language to provide a foundation for the aspects of natural law on which his conception of natural duties of esteem depends. (2) He develops a non-competitive conception of esteem and self-esteem into a cooperative conception, according to which enhancing the esteem in which others are held is seen as a tool for promoting self-perfection. Wolff’s ideas offer a solution to the well-known problems connected with competitive life-styles, and at the same time assign a central role in moral motivation to the desire of being esteemed and of having high self-esteem. Moreover, due to his emphasis on presenting a philosophical analysis based on common notions, he offers a solution that is meant to be persuasive from the perspective of everyday morality.
82. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Oana Matei Sur le progres des sciences: Maupertuis and Bacon on the Advancement of Knowledge
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This paper investigates the Baconian roots of Maupertuis’s Lettre XIX. Sur le Progrès des Sciences (1752). The Letter was published almost a decade after Maupertuis had accepted Frederick II’s invitation to move from Paris to Berlin and become the new President of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Contrary to the secondary literature that identifies a distinction between Maupertuis’s Parisian and Berliner phases, this paper argues that there is in fact greater continuity between the two. Based on a reading that empha­sizes the programmatic and methodological commonalities between Bacon’s project in De augmentis scientiarum (1623) and Maupertuis’s Lettre XIX, this paper argues that, in a Baconian fashion, Maupertuis combines the roles of the “scientist” and the “natural philosopher” into an integrated plan of action with both intellectual an institutional aims. One of Maupertuis’s aims was to highlight the importance of observation and experiment not only in the development of natural philosophy but also for some aspects of speculative philosophy, while another of his aims was to reinvigorate the structure of the Berlin Academy and to model it the fashion of other similar European intellectual projects of that time.
83. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Pietro Daniel Omodeo A Cosmos Without a Creator: Cesare Cremonini’s Interpretation of Aristotle’s Heaven
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In the years after the first circulation of Sidereus Nuncius, Galileo’s Padua anti-Copernican colleague, the staunch Aristotelian philosopher, Cesare Cremonini, published a book on ‘traditional’ cosmology, Disputatio de coelo in tres partes divisa (Venice, 1613) which puzzled the Roman authorities of the Inquisition and the Index much more than any works on celestial novelties and ‘neo-Pythagorean’ astronomy. Cremonini’s disputation on the heavens has the form of an over-intricate comment of Aristotle’s conceptions, in the typi­cally argumentative style of Scholasticism. Nonetheless, it immediately raised the concern of Cardinal Bellarmin, the Pope and other Inquisitors. At a close reading, Cremonini’s interpretation of Aristotle’s cosmos proved radically anti- Christian. It represented a radicalization of Pomponazzian Alexandrism. In fact, Cremonini did not only circulate Aristotelian principles used by Pom­ponazzi to argue for the soul’s mortality (first, no thought is possible without imagination and the latter faculty is dependent on the body; secondly, all that is generated will eventually perish). He also wiped away all transcendence from the Aristotelian cosmos. In fact, he marginalized the function of the motive Intelligences by explaining heavenly motions through the action of animal-like inseparable souls although he did not erase nor reduced all Intelligences to only one, in accordance with Alexander. Also, he put at the center of Aristotle’s cosmos the idea of its eternity, a thesis which he explicitly connected with the rejection of the idea of God the Creator. Cremonini assumed that the univer­sal efficiens, that is the efficient cause of all motion and change in the world, is nothing but the first heaven. As a result of this radically naturalist reading of Aristotle, he banned God from the cosmos, reduced Him to the final cause of the world, and deprived Him of any efficiency and will. This essay on less ex­plored sources of Renaissance astronomical debates considers the institutional, cultural and religious setting of Cremonini’s teaching and conceptions. It as­sesses the reasons for his troubles with the religious authorities, and the politi­cal support he was granted by the Serenissima Republic of Venice inspite of the scandalous opinions he circulated as a university professor. My reconstruction of his views is based on the Disputatio de coelo of 1613 and later works, which are directly connected with cosmo-theological polemics with the religious au­thorities: his Apologia dictorum Aristotelis de quinta coeli substantia (1616) and the unpublished book De coeli efficientia, two manuscript copies of which are preserved in the libraries of Padua and Venice.
84. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Russell Smith Light Path: On the Realist Mathematisation of Motion in the Seventeenth Century
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This paper focuses on the mathematisation of mechanics in the seventeenth century, specifically on how the representation of compounded rectilinear motions presented in the ancient Greek Mechanica found its way into Newton’s Principia almost two thousand years later. I aim to show that the path from the former to the latter was optical: the conceptualisation of geometrical lines as paths of reflection created a physical interpretation of dia­grammatic principles of geometrical point-motion, involving the kinematics and dynamics of light reflection. Upon the atomistic conception of light, the optical interpretation of such geometrical principles entailed their mechanical generalisation to local motion; rectilinear motion via the physico-mathemat­ics of reflection and the Mechanica’s parallelogram rule; circular motion via the physico-mathematics of reflection, the Archimedean squaring of the circle and the Mechanica’s extension of the parallelogram rule to centripetal motion. This appeal to the physico-mathematics of reflection forged a realist founda­tion for the mathematisation of motion. Whereas Aristotle’s physics rested on motions which had their source in the nature of the elements, early modern thinkers such as Harriot, Descartes, and Newton based their new principles of mechanical motion upon selected elements of the mechanics of light motion, projected upon the geometry of the parallelogram rule for rectilinear and, ultimately, circular motion.
85. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Peter Strohschneider Foreigners in Pre-Modernity: On Losses of Negatability and Gains of Unfamiliarity
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The essay draws on the concept of ‘asymmetric counter-concepts’ as developed by Reinhart Koselleck starting with twin-formulas such as ‘the familiar and the unfamiliar’ which are generally used to establish collective des­ignations of the self and others and which institutionalize the axiological and the epistemological. These counter-concepts can have different semantic temperatures. The focus is on the underlying meaning-production schemes which produce value-asymmetries. The essay tries to show that a process of heating up these value-asymmetries is only one side of the history of such asymmetric counter-concepts from medieval to modern times. Simultaneously a cooling down can be observed in written texts from different periods; examples include the 12th century Rolandslied and the 16th century Essais of Michel de Montaigne. Full negation eliminates uncertainties and value insecurities. But the complexities and contingencies that emerge since Early Modern times then lead to losses of negatability (Negierbarkeitsverluste), which in turn render gains in unfamiliarity. The modern experience of the foreign is indeterminate otherness instead of determined negation that characterized pre-modern alterity. Modern societies therefore need to mediate between validity and contingency under the circumstances of plurality. Interpretational demands and uncertainty about the relevant interpretive frames increase. Foreignness is then experienced as unfamiliarity. This presupposes intellectual attitudes like irritability, curiosity, and willingness to learn. The modern concept of ‘culture’ then is proposed as a comparative pattern where only unavoidable structural asymmetry remains. It explains cultural differences and the experience of foreignness through heterogeneity. Using this specifically modern pattern, there is no longer a legitimate value slope between one’s own position and its negation. The distinction is then between the familiar and the unfamiliar.
86. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Petr Pavlas Lex secundum quam disponuntur omnia: Trichotomic Trees in Jan AmosKomenský’s Pansophical Metaphysics and Metaphorics
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The goal of this article is to detail the opposition to “Ramean tree” dichotomic divisions which emerged in the age of swelling Antitrinitarianism, especially Socinianism. Scholars such as Bartholomaeus Keckermann, Jan Amos Komenský and Richard Baxter made a point of preferring the trichotomic to the dichotomic division of Petrus Ramus and the Ramist tradition. This paper tracks the origin of Komenský’s “universal triadism” as present in his book metaphorics and in his metaphysics. Komenský’s triadic book metaphorics (the notion of nature, human mind and Scripture as “the triple book of God”) has its source in late sixteenth-century Lutheran mysticism and theosophy, mediated perhaps by Heinrich Khunrath and, above all, by Johann Heinrich Alsted. Komenský’s metaphysics follows the same triadic pattern. What is more, Komenský illustrates both these domains by means of Ramist-like bracketed trees; regarding book metaphorics, clearly his sources are Khunrath and Alsted. Although inspirations from Lullus, Sabundus and Nicholas of Cusa are most probably involved, the crucial role has to be ascribed to the influence of Lutheran mysticism and Alsted’s “Lullo-Ramism.”
87. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Jo van Cauter Spinoza on Revealed Religion and the Uses of Fear
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This paper argues that fear constitutes an important part of Spinoza’s redefined version of revealed religion as presented in the Theological-Political Treatise. My claim is not only that obedience as conceived by Spinoza always entails fear, but that the biblical image of God as king or lawgiver requires fear to fulfill its function; and thus, by extension, that fear remains one of the very tissues that binds together the body politic. Although, throughout his corpus of work, Spinoza often associates fear with cognitive weakness and a destabilizing temperament, he also acknowledges its potential use for sustaining civic concord. My argument is both positive and negative: the state can foster support for itself by the proper utilization of religious fear, but if it neglects to do so, it undermines its stability and risks falling victim to the destructive effects of superstition.
88. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Nicla Riverso Behind the Scenes: Paolo Sarpi, a Natural Philosopher Friar
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My article explores Paolo Sarpi’s achievements in natural philosophy in order to define his contribution to the intellectual milieu of his time. Sarpi’s role as a natural philosopher has been underestimated, due to the fact that his research has been unpublished and has largely perished: his works on natural philosophy and his scientific discoveries were recorded in his private papers and diaries, kept in the Servite monastery in Venice, which was entirely destroyed by fire in 1769. I explain how Sarpi, because of his conflicts and strained relations with the Church of Rome, did not want to publish on natural philosophy, and I demonstrate how he operated in “silence,” cooperating with other natural philosophers behind the scenes in order to make important discoveries. Bringing up what is left of Sarpi’s writings, I examine the Servite’s accomplishments in physics and magnetism, and compare them with those of Gilbert, Garzoni, and Galileo. Through a careful analysis on passages from Sarpi’s correspondence and Pensieri, by focusing on his achievements in magnetism, I show that his research on magnetic fields had a significant bearing on his study of terrestrial motion and I point out how his study helped him to take his place among those scholars who led Galileo to develop his theory on motion and gravity.
89. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Sergius Kodera Needles and Pins on the Scaffold: Francis Bacon and Giovan Battista della Porta on the Motions of the Human Soul and the Passions of the Lodestone
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This article discusses the powers of the lodestone for two authors, Francis Bacon and Giovan Battista della Porta, relating their observations on magnetism and human emotions to the field of learned natural magic. It investigates some of Bacon’s and Porta’s remarks on experimental work with lodestones and the ways in which both authors translated the inexplicable powers of lodestones and magnetized iron into a series of principles that also served as a structure and explanation of human emotions (and vice versa). I suggest that at work here is not merely an anthropomorphic projection at nature, but also (and conversely) an interest in and fascination with the naturalization and mechanization of human emotions. My contribution examines passages from Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, the Novum organum, the Sylva sylvarum and his Essays; from Della Porta’s Magia naturalis (second edition 1589) and his comedy Sorella (1604). First, the insight that Bacon’s and Della Porta’s perception of magnetic movements have a strong common bias: the identification with human emotions. Both authors postulate not merely a close analogy, but a mutual convertibility between the two phenomena and with animal spirits. Second, this syn-optic approach is no one-way-street merely creating a characteristic perception of the phenomenon of magnetism: it also conditions the modes in which the human mind and emotions are perceived. Third, emotions—in particular love and hatred—are in principle as predictable as the movements of attraction and repulsion exercised by iron and lodestone.
90. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Claudia Dumitru Francis Bacon and the Aristotelian Tradition on the Nature of Sound
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Centuries II and III of Francis Bacon’s posthumous natural history Sylva Sylvarum are largely dedicated to sound. This paper claims that Bacon’s investigation on this topic is fruitfully read against the background of the Aristotelian theory of sound, as presented in De anima commentaries. I argue that Bacon agreed with the general lines of this tradition in a crucial aspect: he rejected the reduction of sound to local motion. Many of the experimental instances and more theoretical remarks from his natural history of sound can be elucidated against this wider concern of distinguishing sound from motion, a theme that had been a staple of Aristotelian discussions of sound and hearing since the Middle Ages. Bacon admits that local motion is part of the efficient cause of sound, but he denies that it is its form, which means that sound cannot be reduced to a type of local motion. This position places him outside subsequent developments in natural philosophy in the seventeenth century.
91. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Doina-Cristina Rusu Spiders, Ants, and Bees: Francis Bacon and the Methodology of Natural Philosophy
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This paper argues that the methodology Francis Bacon used in his natural histories abides by the theoretical commitments presented in his methodological writings. On the one hand, Bacon advocated a middle way between idle speculation and mere gathering of facts. On the other hand, he took a strong stance against the theorisation based on very few facts. Using two of his sources whom Bacon takes to be the reflection of these two extremes—Giambattista della Porta as an instance of idle speculations, and Hugh Platt as an instance of gathering facts without extracting knowledge—I show how Bacon chose the middle way, which consists of gathering facts and gradually extracting theory out of them. In addition, it will become clear how Bacon used the expertise of contemporary practitioners to criticise fantastical theories and purge natural history of misconceived notions and false speculations.
92. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Daniel Garber Margaret Cavendish among the Baconians
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Margaret Cavendish is a very difficult thinker to place in context. Given her stern critique of the “experimental philosophy” in the Observations on the Experimental Philosophy, one might be tempted to place Cavendish among the opponents of Francis Bacon and his experimental thought. But, I argue, her rela­tion to Baconianism is much more subtle than that would suggest. I begin with an overview of Cavendish’s philosophical program, focusing mainly on her later natural philosophical thought in Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1663), Philosophical Letters (1664), Observations on the Experimental Philosophy (1666/68) and her Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668). I then turn to Francis Bacon, and talk about how he understood his philosophical program in the 1620s, and how it had been transformed by later Baconians in the 1650s and 1660s. While Bacon held a vitalistic natural philosophy, what was most visible, particularly in Royal Society propaganda, was his experimentalism. But Margaret Cavendish’s natural philosophical program is, in a way, the exact contrary. While she was skeptical of Bacon’s experimentalism, she was an enthusiastic advocate for a vitalistic materialism that may well have been inspired, at least in part, by Bacon’s thought. Because of her opposition to the experimental philosophy, her contemporaries may not have seen her as a Baconian. But even so I think that she was a philosopher whom Bacon himself would have recognized as a kindred spirit.
93. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Michael Deckard Of the Beard of a Wild Oat: Hooke and Cavendish on the Senses of Plants
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In 1665–1666, both Margaret Cavendish and Robert Hooke wrote about the beard of a wild oat. After looking through the microscope at the wild oat, Hooke describes the nature of what he is seeing in terms of a “small black or brown bristle” and believes that the microscope can improve the human senses. Cavendish responds to him regarding the seeing of the texture of a wild oat through the microscope and critiques his mechanistic explanation. This paper takes up the controversy between Cavendish and Hooke regarding the wild oat as two forms of a broadly Baconian enterprise. Challenging Lisa Walters and Eve Keller, who suppose that Cavendish was against the “Baconian enterprise as a whole,” the argument in this paper is that Cavendish is opposed to Hooke’s defense of instruments as recovering Edenic glory in the Micrographia, but not to the Baconian enterprise as a whole.
94. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Silvia Manzo Francis Bacon's Quasi-Materialism and its Nineteenth-Century Reception (Joseph de Maistre and Karl Marx)
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This paper will address the nineteenth-century reception of Bacon as an exponent of materialism in Joseph de Maistre and Karl Marx. I will argue that Bacon’s philosophy is “quasi-materialist.” The materialist components of his philosophy were noticed by de Maistre and Marx, who, in addition, point­ed out a Baconian materialist heritage. Their construction of Bacon’s figure as the leader of a materialist lineage ascribed to his philosophy a revolutionary import that was contrary to Bacon’s actual leanings. This contrast shows how different the contexts were within which materialism was conceived and valued across the centuries, and how far philosophical and scientific discourses may be transformed by their receptions, to the point that in many cases they could hardly be embraced by the authors of these discourses.
95. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Patrick Brissey Reasons for the Method in Descartes’ Discours
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In the practical philosophy of the Discours de la Méthode, before the theoretical metaphysics of Part Four and the Meditationes, Descartes gives us an inductive argument that his method, the procedure and cognitive psychology, is veracious at its inception. His evidence, akin to his Scholastic predecessors, is God, a maximally perfect being, established an ontological foundation for knowledge such that reason and nature are isomorphic. Further, the method, he tells us, is a functional definition of human reason; that is, like other rationalists during this period, he holds the structure of reason maps onto the world. The evidence for this thesis is given in what I call the groundwork to Descartes’ philosophical system, essentially the first half of the Discours, where, through a series of examples in the preamble of Part Two, he, step-by-step, ascends from the perfection of artifacts through the imposition of reason (the Architect Example) to the perfection of a constituent’s use of her cognitive faculties (the Wise-Lawgiver Example), to God perfecting and ordering reality (the Divine Artificer Example). Finally, he descends, establishing the structure of human reason, which undergirds and entails the procedure of the method (the Laws of Sparta Example).
96. 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.
97. 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.
98. 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.
99. 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
100. 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.