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1. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
D. C. Andersson On Borrowed Time: Internationalism and its Discontents in a Late Sixteenth-Century University Library
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An analysis of the accession history, together with a few refinements thereto, of the Báthory Jesuit College in Transylvania tells us much about the internationaland local buying practices of a humanistic reading community in a period of confessional strife. This short article makes a few corrections to our current knowledge of this library, together with a few obiter comments on Transylvanian book pricing and on the second-hand usage of student works. The Republic ofLetters depended, naturally enough, on the inculcation of a worldview that was not wholly parochial. Accordingly, the article also considers the nature of the intellectual culture that the partial reconstruction suggests and, finally, the division of labour between international and local markets for the sourcing of books.
2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Noël Golvers “Savant” correspondence from China with Europe in the 17th-18th centuries
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In this survey I describe the practice of letter writing in the Jesuit society in the Early Modern times, especially focusing on its role in the diffusion of scholarly information on China and its role in the construction of knowledge on China in Europe. After a description of the general background, I analyse consecutively: (1) some distinctive characteristics of the correspondence from China compared to the common Jesuit practices; (2) the historical communication and transfer routes between China and Europe; (3) the identity of a series of correspondents; (4) the scholarly topics discussed in these letters; (5) the present location of the main collections. I will finish (6) with a presentation of some major individual collections and (7) the impact of this correspondence on the contemporary European reading public, with an overall assessment of these letters as a source for 17th–18th–century European and world history.
3. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Anne Davenport English Recusant Networks and the Early Defense of Cartesian Philosophy
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Following the publication of Descartes’s mechanistic explanation of transubstantiation in 1641, proponents of Galileo’s cosmology and of mechanistic principles of philosophy found themselves vulnerable to a concerted attack by theological authorities. This article calls attention to an early written defense of Cartesian transubstantiation and argues that the “weak” ties of English Catholic networks played a key role in mounting a targeted defense, beyond Mersenne’s immediate circle, of the autonomy of natural philosophy.
4. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Michael Deckard Acts of admiration: Wondrous Women in Early Modern Philosophy
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This paper examines three sets of correspondence in the early modern tradition in order to bridge natural philosophy and practical philosophy by means of the notion of admiration, which Descartes mentions in article 53 of Traité des Passions de l’âme as “the first of all the passions”. I will thus first look at the correspondence of Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618-1680) and René Descartes (1596–1650) in which Elisabeth is a cause of wonder, and who herself inspires Descartes to understand passions better than he had before. Not only does she challenge his mind/body dualism, but she also attempts to instill an appreciation of the personal in philosophy. Wonder is thus not only physiological and passive, but also inspiring and active. Second, the correspondence of Henry More (1614–1687) and Viscountess Anne Conway (1631–1679) spell out further depths of friendship and love. In their interaction, the active life is as much about their care for each other, and Henry’s concern for Anne’s health in particular, as the philosophical content of their relationship. Third, the correspondence between John Norris (1657–1711) and Mary Astell (1668–1731) reveal the transition from abstract philosophy to practical philosophy and, in their interaction, the young wonder Astell teaches Norris about the importance of loving others. This is not a mere curiosity in the history of wonder, but a real and lasting relationship in whichAstell inspires Norris to better himself.
5. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Koen Vermeir The Dustbin of the Republic of Letters: Pierre Bayle’s “Dictionaire” as an encyclopedic palimpsest of errors
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Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire Historique et Critique, a landmark in intellectual history, is a curious text. Originally intended as a collection of all errors, it became an encyclopedia of everything, enfolding rampantly growing footnotes that commented on every imaginable topic. Instead of looking at Bayle’s theoretical statements in the Dictionnaire, I explore Bayle’s writing practice, his critical method and his practice of forming judgments. A close study of the textual, paratextual and contextual characteristics of the first entry of the Dictionnaire (the entry “Abaris”) allows me to find out how Bayle made up his mind at every stage during a contemporaneous controversy on divination. In this way, we are able to see Bayle’s mind in action while he is judging the contradictory information he receives and the to-and-fro movement of changing opinions he is confronted with. This examination yields new insights to Bayle’s practical attitudes towards key issues in his oeuvre, including scepticism, rationalism, superstition and tolerance. At the same time, the article clarifies how Bayle was involved in the Republic of Letters and how he related to his local context in Rotterdam.
6. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Roger Ariew Descartes’ Correspondence before Clerselier: Du Roure’s La Philosophie
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Episodes of the wide diffusion of Galileo’s letters prompts me to consider whether the same thing could be demonstrated for Descartes. The question that interests me most is the circulation of Descartes’ correspondence before the publication of Clerselier’s edition of it, in three volumes, 1657–1667. Thus I examine the influence of Descartes’ unpublished correspondence in Jacques Du Roure’s La Philosophie divisée en toutes ses parties (Paris, 1654). It contains paraphrases of some letters by Descartes and a number of Descartes’ views whose contents were not available in the published corpus. I discuss in particular: 1. To Clerselier, June or July 1646 (about fi rst principles); 2. To Elisabeth, August 4, 1645 (about happiness); 3. To Mersenne?, May 27, 1641?, or To Mesland?, February 9, 1645? (about freedom of indifference). I also examine the evidence of a missing letter: To Mesland, February 9, 1645 (about transubstantiation and individuation). As with the case of the wide diffusion of Galileo’s unpublished letters, we can see a rather quick dissemination of Descartes’ correspondence. Th ree of four letters were circulated, if not by Descartes’ correspondents, at least by Clerselier just after Descartes’ death, even before the publication of his Lettres de Mr. Descartes.
7. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
J.B. Shank A French Jesuit in the Royal Society of London: Father Louis-Bertrand de Castel, S.J. and Enlightenment Mathematics, 1720–1735
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Is it possible for a Parisian Jesuit to be considered an embodiment of Enlightenment? Th is paper argues yes using the case of Louis Betrand de Castel, S.J. Castel is the only French Jesuit ever to be made a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and this paper argues that his admission in 1730 illustrates the shared currents of Enlightenment that brought together this Jesuit with this institution of Enlightenment science. Challenging intellectualist definitions of Enlightenment that defi ne it in terms of philosophical “isms” or alleged unities of belief, I argue that Enlightenment is better described as a new critical spirit born of the changing mediascape of the eighteenth century, and the new patterns of intellectual engagement and sociability that this environment spawned. Castel was a figure of Enlightenment through his work as a journalist and active critic in the mathematical debates of the period. His ideas defy classification under any single label, but his admission to the Royal Society, I argue, was made because of, rather than in spite of, his idiosyncratic scientific positions. Castel, therefore, illustrates an Enlightenment rooted less in any single scientific position or intellectual point view, and more in the new patterns of public critical engagement about all intellectual matters, including mathematics, characteristic of eighteenth-century Europe.
8. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Cesare Pastorino Francis Bacon and the Institutions for the Promotion of Knowledge and Innovation
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This paper analyzes Francis Bacon’s observations on institutions for the advancement of knowledge and technical innovation. Early references to establishments for the promotion of knowledge can be found initial in Bacon’s early works, in the 1590s. Bacon’s journey to France in the second half of the1570s played a role in shaping these early conceptions. In particular, Bacon was likely acquainted with Jaques Gohory’s Lycium philosophal and Nicholas Houel’s Maison de Charité Chrétienne. In the period following the composition of The Advancement of Learning (1605), Francis Bacon focused his attention on the foundation of a college for inventors. Practical plans for the establishment of a college were discussed in the Commentarius solutus (1608). Bacon’s proposals addressed his general concerns for the production of technological innovation in Stuart society; both the college of the Commentarius and the imaginary institution of Salomon’s House in the New Atlantis (1626) can be seen as inventor’s utopias, where innovators are freed from the pressures of the world of crafts. Analogous continental project likely inspired such institutions. Again, the case of France may be relevant; around the time of Bacon’s proposals for his college, Henri IV was actively fostering collaboration among skilled inventors under royal patronage, and outside the strict control of the guild system.
9. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Regier Method and the a priori in Keplerian metaphysics
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I will analyze how a natural philosopher, according to Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), can move from phenomena to knowledge of a priori causes, those causes included in the divine “idea” of the world. By doing so, I hope to enlarge upon recent studies that discuss the influence of regressus-style logic on Kepler’s natural philosophy. The first part of this article will focus on Kepler’s influences at Tübingen and on the preface to the first edition of the Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596). The preface is an important document. In it, Kepler presents his own narrative of discovery. In the second half of the article, I will jump to his last a priori works, those published around 1620. I will argue that these add a level of detail and precision to the a priori method first presented in the Mysterium. I will end by considering the 1621 edition of the Mysterium, showing how Kepler strongly clarifies the limits of geometry in his natural philosophy.
10. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Laura Georgescu One Experiment, Different Uses: Floating Magnetic Bodies in Peregrinus, Norman and Gilbert
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This paper argues that local epistemic aims shape and transform the function played by an experiment. It shows that different uses of the same experimental context change the status of the experiment in the larger knowledge scheme. I deal with this problem in the context of early modern science, where experiments were often transferred from one domain of knowledge or from one problem to another. Thus, I assess how the technique of freely floating magnetic bodies was used experimentally in the following treatises: Peter Peregrinus’ Epistola de magnete, Robert Norman’s The Newe Attractive and William Gilbert’s De magnete. If the thesis is correct, then context-sensitive analyses of the transfer of experiments across domains (or problems) are necessary in order to understand both the function of the experiment in each knowledge context and what legitimizes the transfer.
11. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Claudio Buccolini Mersenne Translator of Bacon?
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Several scholars, such as Corneliis de Waard (1933) and Frances Amalia Yates (1947), have suggested that Marin Mersenne may have translated some parts (or even the whole) of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum. This supposed translation, into Latin, according to De Waard, or into French, according to Yates, has not yet come to light. This paper presents the identification of a partial French translation of Century II of the Sylva Sylvarum in a manuscript by Mersenne, written between 1626 and 1629. This partial translation was probably realized by Marin Mersenne himself, for his own use. It consists of a part of Sylva Sylvarum concerning sounds, the subject Mersenne was working on in that period.
12. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Benedino Gemelli Isaac Beeckman as a Reader of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum
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The Journal of the Dutch natural philosopher and scientist Isaac Beeckman (1588-1637) is an important document of the new science; it gives us important insights into corpuscularian physics, mechanical philosophy, and the physico-mathematical project. It is also valuable for documenting Beeckman’s sustained interest in ancient and contemporary authors and his strategies as a reader. This paper discusses Beeckman’s reading of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum (1626), an important source for Beeckman’s science of nature. I do not propose here a thorough reading of Beeckman’s annotations to Sylva but I mainly concentrate on a number of yet unexplored fragments of Beeckman’s journal. I discuss these fragments in the wider context of Beeckman’s reading of Sylva, but I also assess their value as elements in a larger natural philosophical debate over the nature of light and sounds taking place in the mid-seventeenth century.
13. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Mihnea Dobre On Glass-Drops: a Case Study of the Interplay between Experimentation and Explanation in Seveenteenth-Century Natural Philosophy
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The glass drop is a tear-shaped object with many curious properties. Although having a fragile tail, its main body is hard to break. On the other hand, breaking such a drop produces a loud noise and many very small particles of glass. In the seventeenth century, these objects became the focus of both experimental and natural philosophical investigation. In this article, I examine the ways in which various natural philosophers have dealt with glass-drops. This is neither a complete enumeration of the countless attempts to explain the object and its associated phenomena, nor a search for its origins. Rather, this study offers a glimpse into what was at stake in the inclusion of the glass drop—a new scientific object—into natural philosophy. I shall argue that a full description of the drop and of its properties required both experiment and speculation.
14. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Sarah Irving Rethinking Corruption: Natural Knowledge and the New World in Joseph Hall’s Mundus Alter et Idem
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One of the most humorous and visceral early modern satires, Joseph Hall’s Mundus Alter et Idem (1606?), parodied the corruption of the social and political order of sixteenth-century Europe, depicted in the new world of Terra Australis Incognita. Hall’s dystopia has traditionally been understood as a satire upon humanity’s moral perversion, and is often placed alongside other early modern parodies, such as Erasmus’ Praise of Folly. While this scholarship has added much to our understanding of Hall’s Mundus, this article argues that Hall’s anxieties about corruption in the Mundus stem from his Protestant theological conception of the fundamental corruption of human reason. I argue that this anxiety about humanity’s cognitive abilities underlies Hall’s skepticism about travel. He doubted the veracity of travelers’ testimony, as well as the reliability and usefulness of the natural knowledge that could be discovered in the New World.
15. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Andrea Strazzoni A Logic to End Controversies: The Genesis of Clauberg’s Logica Vetus et Nova
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This article provides an analysis of Johannes Clauberg’s intentions in writing his Logica vetus et nova (1654, 1658). Announced before his adherence to Cartesianism, his Logica was eventually developed in order to provide Cartesian philosophy with a Scholastic form, embodying a complete methodology for the academic disciplines based on Descartes’ rules and a medicina mentis against philosophical prejudices. However, this was not its only function: thanks to the rules for the interpretation of philosophical texts it encompassed, Clauberg’s Logica was meant to provide a general hermeneutics designed to put an end to the quarrels raised by the dissemination of Cartesianism. Such quarrels, according to Clauberg, were caused by the misinterpretation of Descartes’ texts in Revius’ Methodi cartesianae consideratio theologica (1648) and Statera philosophiae cartesianae (1650) and in Lentulus’ Nova Renati Descartes sapientia (1651), which criticized the apparent lack of a logical theory in Descartes’ philosophy and its supposed inconsistencies. Clauberg answers their criticisms by giving a clear account of Descartes’ logical theory and by undermining the interpretative criteria they assumed, in light of a general theory of error. Polemics over Cartesian philosophy, in this way, favored the development of a comprehensive Cartesian methodology for academic disciplines and of the first hermeneutics for philosophical texts.
16. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Markku Roinila Leibniz and the Amour Pur Controversy
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The topic of disinterested love became fashionable in 1697 due to the famous amour pur dispute between Fénelon (1651-1715) and Bossuet (1627-1704). It soon attracted the attention of Electress Sophie of Hanover (1630-1714) and she asked for an opinion about the dispute from her trusted friend and correspondent, the Hanoverian councilor Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). This gave Leibniz an opportunity to present his views on the matter, which he had developed earlier in his career (for example, in Elementa juris naturalis of 1671 and Codex iuris gentium of 1693). In his 1697 letter to Sophie he did not explicitly take sides in the dispute, but formulated his own views on the topic in a theological manner, aiming to provide an account of disinterested love which would surpass the doctrines of both French theologians. In addition to presenting Leibniz’ early views on disinterested love and examining this alternative formulation of his views on love, I will show that after the letter Leibniz gave this alternative perspective up and returned to his earlier, more philosophical views on the topic, which suggests that he regarded them to be superior to the theological version, where the virtue of charity was related to the virtue of hope.
17. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Andrea Sangiacomo What are Human Beings? Essences and Aptitudes in Spinoza’s Anthropology
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Spinoza deals with humans and “human essence” but it is not clear how consistent his use of these notions is. The problem evoked by Spinoza’s anthropology concerns in turn the status of singular versus general essences and the relationship between those essences and their concrete condition of existence. In this paper, I propose to distinguish between these levels in order to argue that humanity exists insofar as different individuals can agree among themselves and become adapted to each other to live and operate together. Firstly, I examine Spinoza’s use of the term “aptus” in order to show that eternal singular essences can exist in different ways according to the extent they can be “adapted” to their environment, that is, to external causes. Secondly, I claim that “human essence” has to be understood as a general essence which therefore results from the “agreements” produced among certain singular essences. Thirdly, I argue that, contrary to the remarkable interpretation provided by Valtteri Viljanen, this ontological picture cannot be explained only by reference to formal causation but needs a genuine kind of efficient causation.
18. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Susan Mills The Challenging Patient: Descartes and Princess Elisabeth on the Preservation of Health
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In this paper I examine Descartes’ goal concerning the preservation of health—his proclaimed “principal end” of his studies—and reasons for it. At the centre of my investigation are Princess Elisabeth’s challenging comments concerning the attractiveness of death, which she makes in response to Descartes’ medical advice in their long-running correspondence of letters. Her challenge, I claim, strikes at Descartes’ medical project at large: she understands Descartes to endorse certain principles concerning the soul that are at odds with his medical ambition to preserve the health of the body. Descartes dispels Elisabeth’s challenge, but not with—what I argue—is his absolute reason for preserving health. For that, I turn to Descartes’ exposition in the Sixth Meditation of dropsy as a “true error of nature.” Unlike the other reasons for Descartes’ concern with health that I take up in my analysis of Descartes’ medical project, this one does not justify the preservation of health by the goods of health but, rather, by the order of nature that God ordained in creating the human being as a composite of soul and body.
19. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Edward Slowik Leibniz and the Metaphysics of Motion
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This essay develops an interpretation of Leibniz’ theory of motion that strives to integrate his metaphysics of force with his doctrine of the equivalence of hypotheses, but which also supports a realist, as opposed to a fully idealist, interpretation of his natural philosophy. Overall, the modern approaches to Leibniz’ physics that rely on a fixed spacetime backdrop, classical mechanical constructions, or absolute speed, will be revealed as deficient, whereas a moreadequate interpretation will be advanced that draws inspiration from an invariantist conception of reality and recent non-classical theories of physics.
20. 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.