This chapter focuses on Leibniz’s philosophical reflections on alchemy and chemistry, beginning with his views on chemistry and natural philosophy, then considering his understanding of chemical practices as a way to discover the intelligibility of nature. The traditional hypothesis of an alchemical influence behind Leibniz’s development of the monad concept is also discussed. Finally, the chapter looks at Leibniz’s views on the epistemic status of chemical principles. On the one hand, alchemical experiments are perfectly connected to Leibniz’s metaphysics; on the other hand, the alleged alchemical proximities of this metaphysics give way to a general science in which chemical experimentation has a well-identified function.
This chapter discusses Leibniz’s conception of body and the closely related concept of corporeal substance. Leibniz saw problems with Descartes’s and Hobbes’s view and introduced a new conception of body based on a metaphysical argument that multiplicity presupposes unities, leading Leibniz to the view that extended bodies are made up of corporeal substances, genuine unities on the model of living animals, and a physical argument that the proper laws of nature require forces, active and passive in bodies; thus, that extended bodies are to be understood in terms of corporeal substances considered as unities of form (active force) and matter (passive force). The chapter traces the development of this view of body as Leibniz introduces monads as metaphysically more fundamental than corporeal substances and struggles to integrate them into the world of nonextended monads.
Aquinas used the term ‘agent’ referring to a created substance or to God. Aquinas's concept of substance explains that substances are set apart from accidents by the fact that substances are subsistent things. Aquinas believed that each substance belong to a particular species and has a complete nature common to any other members of that species that there may be. He also mentioned that there is a distinctive set of causal powers corresponding to each specific nature. Aquinas called the change (or motion) produced by the agent the ‘passion’. Aquinas considered active powers as real (though not necessarily physical) components of a thing that enable it to act in certain ways. A passive power is something posited to account for the fact that a thing is capable of being acted upon in a certain way, that is, to account for the fact that a thing is capable of undergoing a certain sort of passion. Aquinas claimed that every agent (living and nonliving) acts by intending some end. Aquinas did not think that inanimate objects do things out of an awareness of some goal. Aquinas distinguished two types of inclinations that include natural and voluntary. The types of natural inclinations are fire's inclination to heat and a stone's inclination to fall. A voluntary inclination is just any act of the will.
Domenico Bertoloni Meli
This chapter focuses on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s interest in cosmology in relation to some of his other concerns, including God’s role in the universe, the reunion of the churches, freedom in philosophizing, and the abolition of censorship. It begins with a discussion of Leibniz’s reflections on Copernicanism and the world system, followed by an analysis of his views on the structure of the world and its physical and mathematical properties. It then looks at his correspondence with Landgraf Ernst von Hessen-Rheinfels, his view of lack of freedom concerning the world system as an important factor against the Roman Catholic Church, and his efforts to convince the Catholic hierarchy to lift the ban against Copernicus. It also considers Leibniz’s dispute with Isaac Newton regarding issues such as the nature of gravity and action at a distance.
D. Micah Hester
The professional field of bioethics arose in the late 20th century, but many of its substantive characteristics were anticipated, even guided, by pragmatism in general and John Dewey specifically. Bioethics speaks to conditions of wellness and affliction, and these conditions occur within human experience and differ for each human being. Dewey’s moral philosophy is grounded on contextual experience—or “soft” particularism—in order to develop and identify ethical norms. This is brought into stark relief when he discusses healthcare and the practice of physicians, where Dewey implores us to remember that “health” is not a concept to be understood abstractly but must be seen within the context of living individuals. Physicians, in turn, are reminded that their own practices must not focus narrowly on basic science and simple mechanics, but must be “artistic,” using those sciences “to furnish . . . tools of inquiry into the individual case.”
Paul B. Thompson and Zachary Piso
Though environmental philosophers trace the roots of environmental awareness to the decades of John Dewey’s prominence, Dewey himself was conspicuously mum about the environmental controversies of his day. A Deweyan environmental pragmatism, then, must find sustenance in less prosaically environmental themes of the American philosopher’s project. This chapter attends to Dewey’s notion of organism-environment interaction, which is at the core of Dewey’s understanding of experience and which informs Dewey’s philosophy from epistemology to aesthetics. The chapter stresses that Dewey’s notion of organism-environment interaction is an account of how organisms dynamically respond to changes in their environment. However, contrary to several misinterpretations of environmental pragmatism, this dynamic responsiveness is not a call for human control over nature. Indeed, we conclude that an environmental philosophy oriented by Dewey’s notion of organism-environment interaction provides promising approaches to interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and environmental justice.
This chapter discusses Leibniz’s earliest work on physical questions. It begins with how his discovery of contemporary publications on the laws of motion prompted him to investigate the topic for himself, leading him to make a fundamental distinction between pure theory and natural phenomena. From this distinction emerged his two tracts Theoria motus abstracti and Hypothesis physica nova, the latter of which played an important role in his admission to the fellowship of the Royal Society in 1673. Salient parts of these two tracts are outlined, as are some of the more important physical ideas Leibniz developed from them during his stay in Paris.
This chapter challenges the view that psychology emerged from philosophy about 1900, when each found its own proper sphere with little relation to the other. It begins by considering the notion of a discipline, defined as a distinct branch of learning. Psychology has been a discipline from the time of Aristotle, though with a wider ambit, to include phenomena of both life and mind. Empirical psychology in a narrower sense arose in the eighteenth century, through the application (in Britain and elsewhere) of the observational attitudes of the physical and life sciences to mental phenomena. The experimental psychology of the latter nineteenth century was a transformation of this empirical psychology, although the British version was characterized by new theoretical conceptions (including evolutionary ideas) as well as new empirical techniques. After surveying psychology in and out of universities in this period, the chapter reviews a taxonomy of “schools” of psychology from 1923. Notice of anti-psychological attitudes in British philosophy before and after 1900 is balanced by considering positive conceptions of psychology’s role in connection with epistemology and the problem of the external world.
Eternity is a property that substance and modes have in common. Spinoza posits in E5p23 that “the human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but something of it remains which is eternal.” Thus, men have both an indefinite existence or duration, and an eternal one. This thesis sounds very odd because it seems to stand in contradiction to the “parallelism” between body and mind. One may wonder whether Spinoza really thinks that the mind enjoys eternal existence or if he is merely paying lip service to a traditional belief. What does he mean when he states in E5p23s that “we feel and experience (experimur) that we are eternal.” The purpose of the article is to understand this mysterious statement and to examine Spinoza’s definition of eternity in order to determine if modes can enjoy a real eternity.
With the coming of evolutionary speculations in the middle of the nineteenth century, there was much interest in the possible implications of these ideas for ethical thinking and action. Two basic approaches can be discerned, that of Herbert Spencer who saw ongoing progress in life’s history and used this to promote and justify proper conduct and that of Charles Darwin who used his theory of evolution through natural selection to explain moral thought and behavior. Both approaches found supporters and critics, and there has been much subsequent confusion through mistaken conflations of these very different forms of evolutionary ethics.
John Hedley Brooke
This essay examines the impact of evolutionary theory on religious thinking in Victorian Britain. Four cultural shifts are identified that were associated with Darwin’s scientific achievement and its implications. One was the deepening of divisions concerning how scientific knowledge and religious beliefs were best related. Another was a difficult adjustment to the continuity between animals and humans that Darwin’s theory of “descent with modification” enshrined. A third was the eventual elimination from technical scientific literature of references to a Creator, and a fourth was the attenuation of apologetic literature that purported to harmonise biblical exegesis with the latest science. Specific theological issues are then examined in greater depth. These include the doctrines of imago dei and of the ‘fall’, the problem of suffering, and revisions to traditional conceptions of the deity. Contrary to popular accounts of the Darwinian debates, the diversity of the religious response is emphasised.
George E. Smith
Newton carried out four groundbreaking experiments in conjunction with the Principia and proposed a fifth. This chapter reviews his reasons for doing them, their design, and what they achieved. The four include a two-pendulum experiment early in 1685 to establish that the action of gravitational forces on a body is always proportional to its mass and hence that all bodies at any point respond to a gravitational force in the same way. In that same year he conducted a ballistic pendulum experiment to establish that this third law of motion holds for impact of spheres of a wide range of elastic responses, in the process identifying what became known as the coefficient of restitution. He carried out two sets of experiments measuring fluid resistance forces on spheres, the less than successful first relying on pendulum decay and then, for the second edition, vertical-fall. All five experiments were designed to “put the question to nature” in the sense that the three laws of motion enable their results to yield theory-mediated answers to theretofore open questions about forces—and thus parallel the answers to questions about celestial forces drawn from planetary motions that form the core of the Principia.
Daniel Garber and Tzuchien Tho
Leibniz’s mature physics is most noted for the centrality of the notion of force and the development of the dynamics, the science of force. This chapter examines the development and challenges of this “dynamics project,” active from 1676–c. 1700, from its initial motivations and methodological maturation to its important convergence with the systematic metaphysics of his later writings. The chapter begins with Leibniz’s early approach to physical questions and his development in Paris (1672–76), then turns to the emerging theory of power or force from the late 1670s to the late 1680s. In 1689, Leibniz coined the term “dynamica” and composed the two most significant texts of the project. Finally, during the period after 1690, Leibniz not only developed the internal structure of the dynamics but also employed its results toward a convergence between his scientific work and his systematic metaphysics of substantial forms.
This chapter examines the contribution of Francis Bacon to early modern philosophy. It argues that Bacon's work is not limited to epistemology and scientific methodology, and explains that he also wrote treatises on such disparate topics as ethics, politics, aesthetics, religion, and law. The chapter discusses Bacon's theory of matter, his view about the relationship between art and nature, and his critique of the anthropocentric view of the universe. It also highlights his belief on the importance of understanding the difference between the unaware perception of nature and the sentient awareness of human knowledge.
Tad M. Schmaltz
This article examines the transition from causes to laws in research during the early modern period in Europe. It discusses Stillman Drake's claim that the search for causes of events in nature that guided science from the time of Aristotle was superseded at the dawn of modern science starting with the work of Galileo. However, there are complications for the suggestion that there was a process by which causes gave way to laws in science. This suggests that Drake's remark that there has been a progression in modern science from causes to laws may suggest that there was a decisive and permanent transition to Bishop Berkeley's view that explanation in terms of scientific laws involves a mere subsumption of particular events under inductive generalizations, as opposed to an inference to metaphysically robust causal structures.
David L. Hull
There are two problems in the history of science, the first being the use of anachronistic terminology and the other one is the need to simplify. Aristotle derived his basic philosophy of science from his broad knowledge of the living world. Later on, the problem was that all of the philosophies of biology in the early nineteenth century required natural kinds and Darwin set out a scientific theory, but this theory threatened two of the most fundamental principles in philosophy. The philosophy of the late nineteenth century assimilated Darwin's theory. Biologists contributed to the content of debates in the philosophy of biology. The species problem continues to tax philosophers and biologists alike. Finally, in the twenty-first century, new discoveries are leading to new developments.
Douglas M. Jesseph
This chapter is concerned with the foundations of Hobbes’s natural philosophy, notably his account of space and time, as well as an inertial law the author terms the “persistence principle” and a mechanistic principle of action by contact. The author argues that these foundational concepts and principles serve as a framework that places constraints upon the kinds of hypotheses that may figure in the explanation of phenomena, but they do not uniquely determine how natural philosophy is to be developed. In particular, the author shows that (contra Descartes and Thomas White) Hobbes took questions about the infinitude and uniqueness of the world as unanswerable in principle, although he regarded the question of the vacuum as an empirical matter that could be settled by experiment. Hobbes did, however, hold that certain doctrines (notably the Aristotelian theory of rarefaction and condensation) were incoherent and should be rejected on a priori grounds.
This contribution is concerned with the relevance of Hume’s empirical approach to the study of the mind for contemporary cognitive science. It is argued that Hume’s views, empirically founded as they were on observation and introspection and concerning ideas and concepts, passion and sympathy, and moral sentimentalism, find considerable support in the findings of contemporary research. To this extent, Hume may well be considered a precursor to many of today’s cognitive scientists, even though they do not generally draw directly from his work. The fundamental significance of Hume’s own work is that it shows that philosophy has always had an empirical dimension.
This chapter traces Hume’s search for the impression-source of the idea of necessary connection through Book 1 of the Treatise. It then sketches and evaluates the main interpretative positions concerning Hume’s account of causation. These positions characterize Hume either as a regularity theorist who thinks that causation is merely a matter of temporal priority, contiguity, and constant conjunction, a projectivist who takes causal talk to have an essential non-representational element, or a skeptical realist who believes in, and believes that we genuinely refer to, real causal powers. Finally, it briefly discusses rival interpretations of Hume’s famous “two definitions” of causation.
Donald L.M. Baxter
For Hume, the ideas of space and of time are each a general idea of some indivisible objects arranged in a certain manner with additional qualities that make them conceivable to the mind. He argues that the structures of these ideas reflect the structures of space and time. Thus, space and time are not infinitely divisible, and there cannot be empty space nor time without succession. Hume’s idiosyncratic theory can be seen to be reasonable if one pays careful attention to the fact that Hume, in accordance with his skepticism, is concerned only to give vent to views about space and time as they appear in experience. The chapter focuses on explicating Hume’s central arguments rather than trying to give a comprehensive treatment.