Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2013
The Creative Role of Experimentation in Early Modern Science
Isaac Beeckman as a Reader of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum
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.