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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

From Copernicus’s claim that the earth is engaged in three different motions—none of which we can experience—to Newton’s claim that the planetary motions are disorderly—and it is the philosopher’s task to enforce a pattern on them—early modern science made paradoxes the core of its inquiry. Rather than marking the limits of reason or laying foundations for playful skepticism, paradoxes were explicitly sought, carefully elaborated and seriously inquired into, scientifically and philosophically. This entry will string together the most crucial of these paradoxes, one often leading to the other: Tycho demonstrated that the heavens are changing; Kepler showed that vision is a causal process with no inherent cognitive value; Descartes concluded that the passions are the conduits of knowledge; and Bernard Mandeville, already a proud disciple of a self-confident Newtonian science, argued that public virtue arises for private vice. The acknowledged, reflective, and fertile paradoxical nature of its claims and techniques turns the New Science into a representative and a shaping force of Baroque culture.

Keywords: Baroque, Tycho Brahe, René Descartes, Scientific Revolution, Johannes Kepler, Bernard Mandeville, Isaac Newton, Benedictus Spinoza, Passions, history

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