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1. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
D. C. Andersson On Borrowed Time: Internationalism and its Discontents in a Late Sixteenth-Century University Library
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An analysis of the accession history, together with a few refinements thereto, of the Báthory Jesuit College in Transylvania tells us much about the internationaland local buying practices of a humanistic reading community in a period of confessional strife. This short article makes a few corrections to our current knowledge of this library, together with a few obiter comments on Transylvanian book pricing and on the second-hand usage of student works. The Republic ofLetters depended, naturally enough, on the inculcation of a worldview that was not wholly parochial. Accordingly, the article also considers the nature of the intellectual culture that the partial reconstruction suggests and, finally, the division of labour between international and local markets for the sourcing of books.
2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Noël Golvers “Savant” correspondence from China with Europe in the 17th-18th centuries
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In this survey I describe the practice of letter writing in the Jesuit society in the Early Modern times, especially focusing on its role in the diffusion of scholarly information on China and its role in the construction of knowledge on China in Europe. After a description of the general background, I analyse consecutively: (1) some distinctive characteristics of the correspondence from China compared to the common Jesuit practices; (2) the historical communication and transfer routes between China and Europe; (3) the identity of a series of correspondents; (4) the scholarly topics discussed in these letters; (5) the present location of the main collections. I will finish (6) with a presentation of some major individual collections and (7) the impact of this correspondence on the contemporary European reading public, with an overall assessment of these letters as a source for 17th–18th–century European and world history.
3. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Anne Davenport English Recusant Networks and the Early Defense of Cartesian Philosophy
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Following the publication of Descartes’s mechanistic explanation of transubstantiation in 1641, proponents of Galileo’s cosmology and of mechanistic principles of philosophy found themselves vulnerable to a concerted attack by theological authorities. This article calls attention to an early written defense of Cartesian transubstantiation and argues that the “weak” ties of English Catholic networks played a key role in mounting a targeted defense, beyond Mersenne’s immediate circle, of the autonomy of natural philosophy.
4. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Michael Deckard Acts of admiration: Wondrous Women in Early Modern Philosophy
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This paper examines three sets of correspondence in the early modern tradition in order to bridge natural philosophy and practical philosophy by means of the notion of admiration, which Descartes mentions in article 53 of Traité des Passions de l’âme as “the first of all the passions”. I will thus first look at the correspondence of Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618-1680) and René Descartes (1596–1650) in which Elisabeth is a cause of wonder, and who herself inspires Descartes to understand passions better than he had before. Not only does she challenge his mind/body dualism, but she also attempts to instill an appreciation of the personal in philosophy. Wonder is thus not only physiological and passive, but also inspiring and active. Second, the correspondence of Henry More (1614–1687) and Viscountess Anne Conway (1631–1679) spell out further depths of friendship and love. In their interaction, the active life is as much about their care for each other, and Henry’s concern for Anne’s health in particular, as the philosophical content of their relationship. Third, the correspondence between John Norris (1657–1711) and Mary Astell (1668–1731) reveal the transition from abstract philosophy to practical philosophy and, in their interaction, the young wonder Astell teaches Norris about the importance of loving others. This is not a mere curiosity in the history of wonder, but a real and lasting relationship in whichAstell inspires Norris to better himself.
5. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Koen Vermeir The Dustbin of the Republic of Letters: Pierre Bayle’s “Dictionaire” as an encyclopedic palimpsest of errors
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Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire Historique et Critique, a landmark in intellectual history, is a curious text. Originally intended as a collection of all errors, it became an encyclopedia of everything, enfolding rampantly growing footnotes that commented on every imaginable topic. Instead of looking at Bayle’s theoretical statements in the Dictionnaire, I explore Bayle’s writing practice, his critical method and his practice of forming judgments. A close study of the textual, paratextual and contextual characteristics of the first entry of the Dictionnaire (the entry “Abaris”) allows me to find out how Bayle made up his mind at every stage during a contemporaneous controversy on divination. In this way, we are able to see Bayle’s mind in action while he is judging the contradictory information he receives and the to-and-fro movement of changing opinions he is confronted with. This examination yields new insights to Bayle’s practical attitudes towards key issues in his oeuvre, including scepticism, rationalism, superstition and tolerance. At the same time, the article clarifies how Bayle was involved in the Republic of Letters and how he related to his local context in Rotterdam.
6. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Roger Ariew Descartes’ Correspondence before Clerselier: Du Roure’s La Philosophie
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Episodes of the wide diffusion of Galileo’s letters prompts me to consider whether the same thing could be demonstrated for Descartes. The question that interests me most is the circulation of Descartes’ correspondence before the publication of Clerselier’s edition of it, in three volumes, 1657–1667. Thus I examine the influence of Descartes’ unpublished correspondence in Jacques Du Roure’s La Philosophie divisée en toutes ses parties (Paris, 1654). It contains paraphrases of some letters by Descartes and a number of Descartes’ views whose contents were not available in the published corpus. I discuss in particular: 1. To Clerselier, June or July 1646 (about fi rst principles); 2. To Elisabeth, August 4, 1645 (about happiness); 3. To Mersenne?, May 27, 1641?, or To Mesland?, February 9, 1645? (about freedom of indifference). I also examine the evidence of a missing letter: To Mesland, February 9, 1645 (about transubstantiation and individuation). As with the case of the wide diffusion of Galileo’s unpublished letters, we can see a rather quick dissemination of Descartes’ correspondence. Th ree of four letters were circulated, if not by Descartes’ correspondents, at least by Clerselier just after Descartes’ death, even before the publication of his Lettres de Mr. Descartes.
7. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
J.B. Shank A French Jesuit in the Royal Society of London: Father Louis-Bertrand de Castel, S.J. and Enlightenment Mathematics, 1720–1735
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Is it possible for a Parisian Jesuit to be considered an embodiment of Enlightenment? Th is paper argues yes using the case of Louis Betrand de Castel, S.J. Castel is the only French Jesuit ever to be made a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and this paper argues that his admission in 1730 illustrates the shared currents of Enlightenment that brought together this Jesuit with this institution of Enlightenment science. Challenging intellectualist definitions of Enlightenment that defi ne it in terms of philosophical “isms” or alleged unities of belief, I argue that Enlightenment is better described as a new critical spirit born of the changing mediascape of the eighteenth century, and the new patterns of intellectual engagement and sociability that this environment spawned. Castel was a figure of Enlightenment through his work as a journalist and active critic in the mathematical debates of the period. His ideas defy classification under any single label, but his admission to the Royal Society, I argue, was made because of, rather than in spite of, his idiosyncratic scientific positions. Castel, therefore, illustrates an Enlightenment rooted less in any single scientific position or intellectual point view, and more in the new patterns of public critical engagement about all intellectual matters, including mathematics, characteristic of eighteenth-century Europe.
8. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Patrick Brissey Reasons for the Method in Descartes’ Discours
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In the practical philosophy of the Discours de la Méthode, before the theoretical metaphysics of Part Four and the Meditationes, Descartes gives us an inductive argument that his method, the procedure and cognitive psychology, is veracious at its inception. His evidence, akin to his Scholastic predecessors, is God, a maximally perfect being, established an ontological foundation for knowledge such that reason and nature are isomorphic. Further, the method, he tells us, is a functional definition of human reason; that is, like other rationalists during this period, he holds the structure of reason maps onto the world. The evidence for this thesis is given in what I call the groundwork to Descartes’ philosophical system, essentially the first half of the Discours, where, through a series of examples in the preamble of Part Two, he, step-by-step, ascends from the perfection of artifacts through the imposition of reason (the Architect Example) to the perfection of a constituent’s use of her cognitive faculties (the Wise-Lawgiver Example), to God perfecting and ordering reality (the Divine Artificer Example). Finally, he descends, establishing the structure of human reason, which undergirds and entails the procedure of the method (the Laws of Sparta Example).
9. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Osvaldo Ottaviani Orcid-ID The Young Leibniz and the Ontological Argument: From Rejection to Reconsideration
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Leibniz considered the Cartesian version of the ontological argument not as an inconsistent proof but only as an incomplete one: it requires a preliminary proof of possibility to show that the concept of ‘the most perfect being’ involves no contradiction. Leibniz raised this objection to Descartes’s proof already in 1676, then repeated it throughout his entire life. Before 1676, however, he suggested a more substantial objection to the Cartesian argument. I take into account a text written around 1671-72, in which Leibniz considers the Cartesian proof as a paralogism and a petition of principle. I argue that this criticism is modelled on Gassendi’s objections to the Cartesian proof, and that Leibniz’s early rejection of the ontological argument has to be understood in the general context of his early philosophy, which was inspired by nominalist authors, such as Hobbes and Gassendi. Then, I take into account the reconsideration of the ontological argument in a series of texts of 1678, showing how Leibniz implicitly replies to the kind of criticism to the argument he himself shared in his earlier works.
10. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Hanoch Ben-Yami Orcid-ID Word, Sign and Representation in Descartes
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In the first chapter of his The World, Descartes compares light to words and discusses signs and ideas. This made scholars read into that passage our views of language as a representational medium and consider it Descartes’ model for representation in perception. I show, by contrast, that Descartes does not ascribe there any representational role to language; that to be a sign is for him to have a kind of causal role; and that he is concerned there only with the cause’s lack of resemblance to its effect, not with the representation’s lack of resemblance to what it represents. I support this interpretation by comparisons with other places in Descartes’ corpus and with earlier authors, Descartes’ likely sources. This interpretation may shed light both on Descartes’ understanding of the functioning of language and on the development of his theory of representation in perception.
11. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Joseph Anderson The ‘Necessity’ of Leibniz’s Rejection of Necessitarianism
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In the Theodicy, Leibniz argues against two impious conceptions of God—a God who makes arbitrary choices and a God who doesn’t make choices at all. Many interpret Leibniz as navigating these dangers by positing a kind of non-Spinozistic necessitarianism. I examine passages from the Theodicy which reject not only blind (Spinozistic) necessitarianism but necessitarianism altogether. Leibniz thinks blind necessitarianism is dangerous due to the conception of God it entails and the implications for morality. Non-Spinozistic necessitarianism avoids many of these criticisms. Leibniz finds that even necessary actions should receive certain rewards and punishments as long as they necessarily lead to a change in future behavior. But Leibniz rejects even non-Spinozistic necessitarianism on the grounds that it is inconsistent with punitive justice. Whether Leibniz successfully avoids necessitarianism, it ought to be clear that he sees his own position as significantly distinct from necessitarianism and not just Spinozism.
12. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Andrea Sangiacomo, Orcid-ID Raluca Tanasescu, Orcid-ID Silvia Donker, Orcid-ID Hugo Hogenbirk Expanding the Corpus of Early Modern Natural Philosophy: Initial Results and a Review of Available Sources
13. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Kyle S. Hodge The Conservatism of the Counterreformation in Montaigne’s “Apology for Raymond Sebond”
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Montaigne’s “Apology” is a lengthy work the overarching theme of which is the relationship between epistemology, virtue, and vice. It is a commentary on the thesis that science or knowledge “is the mother of all virtue and that all vice is produced by ignorance.” Montaigne’s response is radical and unequivocal: there is no idea more harmful; its consequences are no less than the destruction of inward contentment and the undermining of societal peace and stability. Indeed, Montaigne sees the Protestant Reformation as the instantiation of this terrible thesis, with all of the attendant trouble it had and continued to cause in France. So Montaigne inverts the thesis: ignorance begets virtue and (presumption of ) knowledge vice. Out of this inversion he draws many conservative social and political consequences, and this is one of the most interesting and yet underexplored aspects of the text. Montaigne exhibits the conservatism of the Counterreformation in the “Apology,” and I intend to draw more attention to this theme. I show that Montaigne’s main target in the “Apology” was not dogmatism as such, but Protestantism as a species of dogmatism. I then show that, by using a few elementary epistemic concepts, Montaigne launches a withering skeptical attack on the Reformation. Out of this criticism I draw some important conservative themes that have significant implications for our understanding of Montaigne’s social and political thought, as well as for conservative political theory and its intellectual history.
14. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Olivier Dubouclez Descartes et les quarante passions. Ordre et dénombrement dans les articles 53 à 67 des Passions de l’âme
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The enumeration of the “principal passions” in the articles 53 to 67 of the Passions of the Soul (1649) is generally regarded as laborious and unclear. This article opposes to this view and proposes elements to make sense of Descartes’ enumerative procedure. First, it clarifies the nature and function of what is called “ordered enumeration”: it amounts to a methodical act of collecting which must not be confused with a cognitive sequence based on determinate principles. The article also suggests that the paragraph 52 of the Passions provides relevant indications to account for the structure of Descartes’ discourse. Indeed, different ordering criteria can be deduced from the under­standing of what the emotional object is (namely profit and importance), and from Descartes’ emotional subject as a “mind-body union” put into motion by passion (temporality). The article finally insists on Descartes’ main novelty: his forty “principal passions” are not exclusively centered on the ego and his desire; on the contrary, the enumeration makes room for other human beings who, being emotional subjects in their own right, play an active role in the develop­ment of the subject’s sentimental experience.
15. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Fabrice Schultz Alchemy and the Transformation of Matter in Richard Crashaw’s Poetry (1612-1649)
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This paper studies the English poems of Richard Crashaw (1612-1649) from a historicist and formalist perspective. It specifically considers Crashaw’s poetry in its religious but also intellectual and early scien­tific context to investigate the frequently overlooked influence of science on his poetry. Metaphors drawn from alchemy and particularly from the trans­formation of matter to achieve its purification and spiritualisation enrich the poet’s expression of mystical devotion to underline that access to the spiritual as well as mystical union with Christ are deeply rooted in the devotee’s body. Representations of the earth as a chemical laboratory focus on materiality and corporality to emphasise the constant movement animating matter. A form of spiritual alchemy underscores Crashaw’s Christocentrism and references to the metamorphoses of matter consistently aim to express mystical union. A meta-poetic analysis eventually highlights a significant analogy between reading and alchemical processes in order to demonstrate the anagogical aim of Crashaw’s verse and the way his poems work on his reader’s heart to lift his soul. References to liquefaction, distillation or sublimation echo the published works of mystics but alchemical conceits based on symbolically evocative topoï and polysemic vocabulary reinforce the importance of the corporal in the expe­rience of mystical union.
16. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Hasse Hämäläinen Swedenborg’s Religious Rationalism
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This article argues that contrary to a received interpretation, Emanuel Swedenborg’s doctrine of correspondences (scientia correspondentiarum), according to which each empirical reality has a corresponding spiritual reality, is closer to Spinozistic monism than Neoplatonic idealism. According to the former, there is only one substance: God, which we can cognize through its spir­itual and material aspects. According to the latter, the material world consists of substances that receive their form through participation in the ideas of the spiri­tual world. The article will show that although some of Swedenborg’s claims can appear as expressing Neoplatonic idealism, his reading of the Bible as a guide for moral improvement, his rejection of the religious mysteries that cannot be rationally understood, his various examples of correspondences, his view that we can cognize God by studying the correspondences, and his definition of God as the only substance, make evident that he does not consider the spiritual realities ideas in the Neoplatonic sense. The article will interpret Swedenborg to think that the spiritual realities are learned concepts that enable us to describe and experience the world as having spiritual significance and thus acquire a fuller cognition of God.
17. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Eduard Ghita Adam Smith on Beauty, Utility, and the Problem of Disinterested Pleasure
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The large extent to which aesthetic terms pervade Adam Smith’s discussion of ethics would seem to suggest, in the least, that the spheres of aesthetics and ethics are interwoven in a way hardly possible to conceive in the wake of Kant. Despite this recognized closeness between the two areas, one account in the literature has claimed that Smith’s understanding of beauty anticipates Kant’s modern notion of disinterested pleasure. It is claimed that according to Smith, disinterested pleasure is aroused by the harmony of our moral sentiments as well as by the beauty of “productions of art.” By analyzing the relation of beauty to utility in Smith’s aesthetics and ethics, I will be arguing against the attribution to Smith of a specifically disinterested pleasure in our judgments of the beauty of the productions of art, as well as in the beauty of moral objects, such as virtuous character and conduct.
18. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Delphine Kolesnik-Antoine Le rôle des expériences dans la physiologie d’Henricus Regius : les « pierres lydiennes » du cartésianisme
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The historiography of Cartesianism often opposes Regius, a dissident empiricist medical doctor who denied the capacity of natural reason to demonstrate the immateriality and the immortality of the soul, to Descartes, a metaphysician who on the contrary grounded his philosophy in the real distinction between thinking and corporeal substance. In this contribution, I show how our understanding of this relation is modified when approaching the relation between the two men taking departure in the question of physiological experiments. Going back to some foundational texts, namely the disputations on physiology defended at the University of Utrecht from around 1640, I follow the evolution in how they dealt with three essential questions: the beating of the heart, digestion, and muscular movement, all the way until the last edition of the Philosophia naturalis in 1661. I reconstruct the prolonged dialogue between Regius and Descartes on these questions in order to show that the recourse to physiological experimentation in Regius’s work does not serve to question Descartes’s philosophy. Quite to the contrary, Regius wishes to consolidate this philosophy and purge it of its slag by responding to accusations of abstraction and dogmatism directed against a Cartesian metaphysics and physics that remove both venture to speak of the invisible. By following the aftermath of Regius’s innovations in the texts by Clerselier and De la Forge that accompany the posthumous edition of L’Homme in 1664, this contribution proposes, in short, to reconsider an interpretation of Cartesianismthat is too “dualist,” by taking into account what a more empiricist reading can contribute to it.
19. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Cesare Pastorino Francis Bacon and the Institutions for the Promotion of Knowledge and Innovation
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This paper analyzes Francis Bacon’s observations on institutions for the advancement of knowledge and technical innovation. Early references to establishments for the promotion of knowledge can be found initial in Bacon’s early works, in the 1590s. Bacon’s journey to France in the second half of the1570s played a role in shaping these early conceptions. In particular, Bacon was likely acquainted with Jaques Gohory’s Lycium philosophal and Nicholas Houel’s Maison de Charité Chrétienne. In the period following the composition of The Advancement of Learning (1605), Francis Bacon focused his attention on the foundation of a college for inventors. Practical plans for the establishment of a college were discussed in the Commentarius solutus (1608). Bacon’s proposals addressed his general concerns for the production of technological innovation in Stuart society; both the college of the Commentarius and the imaginary institution of Salomon’s House in the New Atlantis (1626) can be seen as inventor’s utopias, where innovators are freed from the pressures of the world of crafts. Analogous continental project likely inspired such institutions. Again, the case of France may be relevant; around the time of Bacon’s proposals for his college, Henri IV was actively fostering collaboration among skilled inventors under royal patronage, and outside the strict control of the guild system.
20. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Regier Method and the a priori in Keplerian metaphysics
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I will analyze how a natural philosopher, according to Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), can move from phenomena to knowledge of a priori causes, those causes included in the divine “idea” of the world. By doing so, I hope to enlarge upon recent studies that discuss the influence of regressus-style logic on Kepler’s natural philosophy. The first part of this article will focus on Kepler’s influences at Tübingen and on the preface to the first edition of the Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596). The preface is an important document. In it, Kepler presents his own narrative of discovery. In the second half of the article, I will jump to his last a priori works, those published around 1620. I will argue that these add a level of detail and precision to the a priori method first presented in the Mysterium. I will end by considering the 1621 edition of the Mysterium, showing how Kepler strongly clarifies the limits of geometry in his natural philosophy.