Nicolas Malebranche is one of the most important philosophers of the 17th Century after Descartes. A pioneer of Rationalism, he was one of the first to champion and to further Cartesian ideas. Andrew Pyle places Malebranche's work in the context of Descartes and other philosophers, and also in its relation to ideas about faith and reason. He examines the entirety of Malebranche's writings, including the famous The Search After Truth , which was admired and criticized by both Leibniz and Locke. (...) Pyle presents an integrated account of Malebranche's central theses, occasionalism and 'vision in God', before exploring and assessing Malebranche's contribution to debates on physics and biology, and his views on the soul, self-knowledge, grace, and the freedom of the will. This penetrating and wide-ranging study will be of interest to not only philosophers, but also to historians of science and philosophy, theologians, and students of the Enlightenment or 17th Century thought. (shrink)
A substantial and in-depth study of the history of the atomic theory of matter between the time of Democritus and that of Newton. It is the first to emphasize the continuity of the atomic debate and the debt owed by the seventeenth-century "moderns" to the medieval critique of Aristotle.
Robert Boyle thought that his scientific achievements in pneumatics and chemistry depended on, and thus provided support for, his mechanical philosophy. In a recent article in this journal, Alan Chalmers has challenged this view. This paper consists of a reply to Chalmers on two fronts. First it tries to specify precisely what ‘the mechanical philosophy’ meant for Boyle. Then it goes on to defend, against Chalmers, the view that Boyle's science does support his natural philosophy.Keywords: Robert Boyle; Mechanical philosophy; Reductionism.
Nicolas Malebranche is one of the most important philosophers of the seventeenth century after Descartes. A pioneer of rationalism, he was one of the first to champion and to further Cartesian ideas. Andrew Pyle places Malebranche's work in the context of Descartes and other philosophers, and also in its relation to ideas about faith and reason. He examines the entirety of Malebranche's writings, including the famous The Search After Truth, which was admired and criticized by both Leibniz and Locke. Pyle (...) presents an integrated account of Malebranche's central theses, occasionalism and 'vision in God', before exploring and assessing Malebranche's contribution to debates on physics and biology, and his views on the soul, self-knowledge, grace and the freedom of the will. This penetrating and wide-ranging study will be of interest to not only philosophers, but also to historians of science and philosophy, theologians, and students of the Enlightenment or seventeenth century thought. (shrink)
John Locke has a good claim to the title of the greatest ever English philosopher, and was a founding father of both the empiricist tradition in philosophy and the liberal tradition in politics. This new book provides an accessible introduction to Locke’s thought. Although its primary focus is on the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, it also discusses the Two Treatises on Government, the Essay on Toleration, and the Reasonableness of Christianity, and draws on materials from Locke’s correspondence and notebooks to (...) shed light on the contexts of these major works. Locke’s arguments for his central claims are subjected to close scrutiny, and his replies to his main critics evaluated. A.J. Pyle takes as his guiding theme Locke’s own maxim, that God has given humans enough knowledge for our needs. The philosopher who emerges from these pages is a strikingly modern figure, anti-metaphysical in his attitude both to science and to theology, anti-authoritarian in his politics, and cautiously optimistic about human progress. Locke is indeed one of the founding figures of the Enlightenment, but for Pyle the Lockean Enlightenment is a modest affair of slow and hesitant groping towards the light. As well as serving as an introduction to Locke for students, the book also helps to correct a number of significant errors and misunderstandings that have marred our understanding of Locke and will spark discussion and debate amongst scholars of his work. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Keith Hutchison has advanced the thesis that the Mechanical Philosophy represents a shift towards supernaturalism in our conception of the physical world. This paper concentrates on one of the great problems of seventeenth-century biological theory — animal generation — to illustrate (and modify) Hutchison's thesis, thereby also serving to locate one role of the life sciences in the Scientific Revolution. This choice of focus enables us to draw heavily on Jacques Roger's seminal work on animal generation (...) to illuminate the change that occurs, within the Mechanical Philosophy, between Descartes and Malebranche. Once the necessary distinctions have been drawn, it is argued, it will be seen that (in one important sense) this is a shift from naturalism to supernaturalism, brought about largely by problems native to the life sciences. (shrink)
This volume presents twenty of the most important interviews the journal, Cogito conducted between 1987 and 1996. Covering a wide spectrum of intellectual inquiry, from logic to metaphysics to philosophy of mind, the interviews provide an excellent introduction to philosophy in the English speaking world at the end of the century. Interviews with: Michael Dummett Peter Strawson Alasdair MacIntyre David Gauthier Nancy Cartwright Mary Warnock Hilary Putnam Daniel Dennett Bernard Williams John Cottingham Willard Quine Stephen Korner Hugh Mellor Adam Morton (...) Jean Hampton Roger Scruton Richard Dawkins Richard Sorabji Derek Parfit Martha Nussbaum. (shrink)
Key Philosophers in Conversation is a fascinating collection of interviews presenting the ideas of some of the worlds leading contemporary philosophers. Each interview features a discussion with a key philosopher looking at philosophical issues such as; the philosophy of mind, ethics, science, political philosophy and the history of philosophy. Those interviewed are; W.V.O Quine, Michael Dummet, Mary Warnock, Hilary Putnam, Alasdair MacIntyre, Daniel Dennett, Martha Nussbaum, Roger Scruton, Bernard Williams, Jean Hampton, Richard Dawkins, Derek Parfit, Peter Strawson, David Gauthier, Hugh (...) Mellor, John Cottingham, Adam Morton, Stefan Korner, Richard Sorabji and Nancy Cartwright. This book offers an excellent insight to contemporary philosophy and is ideal for anyone seeking an introduction to what is happening in Philosophy today. (shrink)
A study of the history of the atomic theory of matter between the time of Democritus and that of Newton. The classical atomic theory, we are told, consisted of four central doctrines: a firm commitment to indivisible units of matter; a belief in the reality of the vacuum; a reductionist conception of forms and qualities and a mechanistic account of natural agency. The work provides a critical account of the arguments used for and against these four theses during three time-periods: (...) Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the 17th century. Atomism was a minority position in Antiquity, rejected by most natural philosophers on the strength of Aristotelian objections. But Aristotle's own disciples gradually took his system apart in the Middle Ages, thus developing - albeit in a piecemeal manner - positions strikingly akin in some respects to classical atomism. So when Gassendi and others sought to revive atomism in the 17th century, the way was already prepared for them. This study is the first to emphasise the continuity of this process and the debt owed by the 17th-century moderns to the medieval critique of Aristotle. (shrink)
When the atomic theory was revived in the seventeenth century, the atomists faced a problem concerning the status of the laws of nature. On the face of it, the postulation of absolutely hard, rigid, and impenetrable atoms seems to entail the existence of natural necessities and impossibilities: Atoms A and B cannot interpenetrate, so atom A must push atom B when they collide. The properties of compound bodies are to be explained in terms of their “textures” (i.e., the arrangements of (...) their constituent atoms) on the famous lock-and-key model. Once again, it looks as if we have a domain of natural necessities depending on the textures of compound bodies. But the atomists seem to think of the laws of nature as radically contingent, not the sorts of things that could in principle be known a priori. This article seeks to address this tension between what the atomists seem committed to by their matter theory (real necessary connections in nature) and what they in fact say (that all the laws are contingent). In my Atomism (1995) I sought to resolve the tension by appealing to a sharp distinction between the atomists’ metaphysics and their epistemology. On this interpretation, they remain committed to natural necessity, but insist that we can never do Natural Philosophy in the “high priori” manner, by discovering real essences and their necessary connections. Our sciences of nature must remain empirical. Since publication of Atomism, however, this possible solution of the problem has come to seem more doubtful. Reflection on the work of my three “dissenting voices” (Margaret Osler, Peter Anstey and Rae Langton) has forced a radical rethink, focussing on the problematic relation between the intrinsic properties of the atoms and their (dynamic) powers. If there is no discoverable intelligible connection between what the atom is in itself (its intrinsic properties) and what it does (its powers), then my earlier solution will turn out to be untenable. (shrink)
In the last generation or so, the accepted canon of seventeenth-century philosophy has been increasingly subjected to challenge, and a powerful case has been made, by a variety of scholars, for the inclusion of figures such as Bacon, Gassendi, Malebranche, and Bayle. One might also make a case for the inclusion of Robert Boyle, not just because of his clear influence on Locke and Newton, or for his important contributions to natural philosophy, but because of the intrinsic interest and importance (...) of his own writings on a wide variety of topics. Thanks to Michael Hunter, we now have both a new edition of Boyle's Works, and a new biography of the man, which is certain to supersede all previous studies.In this context, a new edition of the Excellency of Theology and the Excellency and Grounds of the Mechanical Hypothesis is sure to find a welcome from scholars and students alike. The former work is addressed to a group of virtuosi who, although still nominally Christians, have neglected the Book of God for the Book of Nature. Boyle seeks to persuade such men that they have an obligation to study the Scriptures and may reasonably hope to derive great profits from such studies. (shrink)
The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy" employs a wide construal of 'philosophy' that was common in former centuries. Its biographical entries include writers on mainstream philosophical topics whose individual contribution was small (for example, writers of textbooks or minor critics of major figures). But the encyclopedia also includes celebrated figures from other intellectual domains (e.g. poets, mathematicians, scientists and clergymen), who had something to say on topics that count as broadly philosophical. This interdisciplinary approach, coupled with sophisticated indexing and cross-referencing, (...) makes "CEBP" easily accessible to students and specialists across a huge range of subjects. It will become a highly important resource to support teaching and research in literature, history, classics, cultural studies, politics, economics, language, aesthetics, psychology and science, as well as in mainstream philosophy itself. (shrink)
A three-cornered dispute about God and nature Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9481-5 Authors Andrew Pyle, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, 9 Woodland Rd, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Mill's On Liberty (1859) denies people the right to sell themselves into slavery. Yet such, says Mill, is the condition of half the population, denied the most elementary legal and political rights. The Subjection of Women is a cry of protest against the injustices of existing British institutions and a plea for political, legal, and educational reforms. This volume contains a sample of the resulting literature. Of particular interest is the fact that, among the critics and reviewers who responded to (...) The Subjection of Women, one may find a number of the most eminent of the women intellectuals of the period. (shrink)