- Notes on Contributors
- Essences and Kinds
- From Causes to Laws
- Space and Time
- The Mechanical Philosophy
- Machines, Souls, and Vital Principles
- The Soul
- Qualities and Sensory Perception
- The Passions
- Language and Semiotics
- Form, Reason, and Method
- Instruments of Knowledge
- Picturability and Mathematical Ideals of Knowledge
- Virtue and Vice
- Egoism and Morality
- Realism and Relativism in Ethics
- The Free Will Problem
- The Equality of Men and Women
- Natural Law as Political Philosophy
- Sovereignty and Obedience
- Conceptions of God
- The Epistemology of Religious Belief
- Religious Toleration
Abstract and Keywords
This article analyses the underlying interpretation of the natural world as mechanical during the early modern period. It describes the so-called mechanical ideal and discusses three cases involving important (re)interpretations of the philosophical implications of this ideal. It suggests that the mechanical ideal raised new problems in different contexts and inspired antagonistic views of its philosophical implications in proponents who operated within the same intellectual context. It also discusses foundationalism versus mitigated scepticism and animated machines versus mechanical animations.
Helen Hattab is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston. She is the author of Descartes on Forms and Mechanisms (Cambridge, 2009) and of articles on the relations between Descartes' philosophy, late Scholastic philosophy, and Renaissance mechanics.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.