Editor: Sorana Corneanu
SILVIA MANZO: The Preservation of the Whole and the Teleology of Nature in Late Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern Debates on the Void
Abstract: 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.
MARKKU ROINILA: Leibniz and the Amour Pur Controversy
Abstract: 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.
EDWARD SLOWIK: Leibniz and the Metaphysics of Motion
Abstract: 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 more adequate interpretation will be advanced that draws inspiration from an invariantist conception of reality and recent non-classical theories of physics.
ANDREA SANGIACOMO: What are Human Beings? Essences and Aptitudes in Spinoza’s Anthropology
Abstract: 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.
SUSAN MILLS: The Challenging Patient: Descartes and Princess Elisabeth on the Preservation of Health
Abstract: 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.
ANDREA STRAZZONI: A Logic to End Controversies: The Genesis of Clauberg’s Logica Vetus et Nova
Abstract: 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.
SARAH IRVING: Rethinking Corruption: Natural Knowledge and the New World in Joseph Hall’s Mundus Alter et Idem
Abstract: 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.
DANIEL C. ANDERSSON: Renaissance Empiricism and English Universities: Recent Work
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. by Noel Malcolm, Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes, 3 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2012 (Adrian Blau)
Rhodri Lewis, William Petty on the Order of Nature: An Unpublished Manuscript Treatise, Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012 (Dana Jalobeanu)
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