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HIST 1010 Nov 3 2011 Lecture Note (F11)

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HIST 1010
Peter Goddard

1 HIST 1010 Thursday, November 3, 2011 Three Traditions (paradigms) in Early Modern Natural Philosophy Clicker Q The modern scientist, who studies some aspect of the natural world, is most interested by: A) Qualities of nature B) Quantities of nature Measure of Reality (Alfred Crosby) – interested in shift of qualitative nature to quantitative view (measuring world in mathematical measurements); Quanta = measure of reality Ex. Francis Bacon – measure distance between planet Earth and Moon; measures in terms of days walk (qualitative measure) C) “Intelligent Design” of nature Creationism (reflects Christian tradition) D) Evolution of Nature I. Organic Tradition A. Based on organic connectivity – Aristotle, d. 322 bc > “The Philosopher”; analogy of growth is prominent; Ex. Tree growing from seed; everything in nature is alive, growing, giving birth, dying (continuous change) B. Geocentric view of universe (Ptolemy, d. 161 A.D.) > Universe seen to be organism which had Earth at centre and celestial phenomenon revolved C. Anti-mechanistic view of body (Galen, d. 201 A.D.) > Organic nature of body and fact that whole body animated by organic forces (ex. humours); spiritual way of accounting of dynamism of body D. Supported by Church & Scholastic establishment E. The scientist is a logician in this tradition (God is rational first mover) God was force that set up universe; caused everything to revolve around world o Ptolemy was a popular source for astrology (closely related to astroin the early modern world o Galen’s ideas of the body dominated late medieval medicine II. Mystical (or Magical) Tradition A. Based on Neo-Platonism: Order beyond the visible (Plato, 428/427 BC – 348/347 BC) > Any light you see is reflected; not on surface of things but behind things B. Expressed through mathematics, alchemy: Attuned to mystery > Ex. Mathematics; mystical power of numbers C. “Hermetic” philosophy: Sun the source of life (“Hermes Trismegistus”, asserts divine source of inspiration > See nature asenchanted place D. Jewish Cabbala (“Tradition”): Old Testament interpreted with ciphers > Finding meaning in numbers of verses, patterns (not visible in naked eye) in holy text E. Scientist interprets the message of the universe III. Mechanical Tradition A. Likens natural phenomena to mechanism B. Mathematical laws describe nature > Drawn to movement 2 C. Gains prominence via A
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