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1. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Book received
2. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Robert Arnăutu Descartes among the Scholastics by Roger Ariew
3. 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.
4. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Alexander Douglas A Worldlier Spinoza: Susan James on the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus
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Andrea Sangiacomo Principe de la philosophie chez Hobbes. L’expérience de soi et du monde by Arnaud Milanese
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Guidelines for Authors
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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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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).
14. 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.
15. 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.
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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.
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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
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Dana Jalobeanu Orcid-ID Big Books, Small Books, Readers, Riddles and Contexts: The Story of English Mythography
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Michael Deckard Stefano Marino and Pietro Terzi (eds.), Kant’s ‘Critique of Aesthetic Judgment’ in the 20th Century: A Companion to its Main Interpretations, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021
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Doina-Cristina Rusu Orcid-ID Jennifer M. Rampling, The Experimental Fire. Inventing English Alchemy, 1300-1700, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2020