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articles
1. 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).
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2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Hanoch Ben-Yami Orcid-ID 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.
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3. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Osvaldo Ottaviani Orcid-ID 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.
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4. 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.
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review article
5. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Dana Jalobeanu Orcid-ID Big Books, Small Books, Readers, Riddles and Contexts: The Story of English Mythography
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corpus review
6. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Andrea Sangiacomo, Orcid-ID Raluca Tanasescu, Orcid-ID Silvia Donker, Orcid-ID Hugo Hogenbirk Expanding the Corpus of Early Modern Natural Philosophy: Initial Results and a Review of Available Sources
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reviews
7. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Diego Lucci Orcid-ID Ruth Boeker, Locke on Persons and Personal Identity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021
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8. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Michael Deckard Stefano Marino and Pietro Terzi (eds.), Kant’s ‘Critique of Aesthetic Judgment’ in the 20th Century: A Companion to its Main Interpretations, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021
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9. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Doina-Cristina Rusu Orcid-ID Jennifer M. Rampling, The Experimental Fire. Inventing English Alchemy, 1300-1700, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2020
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10. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Books Received
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11. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Guidelines for Authors
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articles
12. 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.
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13. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Doina-Cristina Rusu Orcid-ID 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.
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14. 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.
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15. 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.
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16. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Silvia Manzo Orcid-ID 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.
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review article
17. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Daian Bica Causal Powers in the Framework of the Early Modernity
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book reviews
18. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Dev Mahaffey Emma Wilby, Invoking the Akelarre: Voices of the Accused in the Basque Witch-Craze, 1609–1614
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19. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Matteo Fornasier Luca Addante, Tommaso Campanella, il filosofo immaginato, interpretato, falsato
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20. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Guidelines for Authors
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