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Spinoza and the philosophy of science: mathematics, motion, and Being

Eric Schliesser (UGent)
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3G007511 De metafysica en wiskunde van botsingen
Abstract
This chapter argues that the standard conception of Spinoza as a fellow-traveling mechanical philosopher and proto-scientific naturalist is misleading. It argues, first, that Spinoza’s account of the proper method for the study of nature presented in the Theological-Political Treatise points away from the one commonly associated with the mechanical philosophy. Moreover, throughout his works Spinoza’s views on the very possibility of knowledge of nature are decidedly skeptical. Third, in the seventeenth-century debates over proper methods in the sciences, Spinoza sided with those who criticized the aspirations of the physico-mathematicians like Galileo, Huygens, Wallis, and Wren who thought the application of mathematics to nature was the way to make progress. In particular, he offers grounds for doubting their confidence in the significance of measurement as well as their piecemeal methodology. Along the way, this this chapter offers a new interpretation of common notions in the context of treating Spinoza’s account of motion.
Keywords
essence, common notions, philosophy of mathematics, Motion, philosophy of science

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Schliesser, Eric. 2014. “Spinoza and the Philosophy of Science: Mathematics, Motion, and Being.” In Oxford Handbook on Spinoza, ed. Michael Della Rocca, 1–26. Oxford Online ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
APA
Schliesser, E. (2014). Spinoza and the philosophy of science: mathematics, motion, and Being. In M. Della Rocca (Ed.), Oxford Handbook on Spinoza (Oxford Online ed., pp. 1–26). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Vancouver
1.
Schliesser E. Spinoza and the philosophy of science: mathematics, motion, and Being. In: Della Rocca M, editor. Oxford Handbook on Spinoza. Oxford Online ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 1–26.
MLA
Schliesser, Eric. “Spinoza and the Philosophy of Science: Mathematics, Motion, and Being.” Oxford Handbook on Spinoza. Oxford Online ed. Ed. Michael Della Rocca. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 1–26. Print.
@incollection{4376874,
  abstract     = {This chapter argues that the standard conception of Spinoza as a fellow-traveling mechanical philosopher and proto-scientific naturalist is misleading. It argues, first, that Spinoza{\textquoteright}s account of the proper method for the study of nature presented in the Theological-Political Treatise points away from the one commonly associated with the mechanical philosophy. Moreover, throughout his works Spinoza{\textquoteright}s views on the very possibility of knowledge of nature are decidedly skeptical. Third, in the seventeenth-century debates over proper methods in the sciences, Spinoza sided with those who criticized the aspirations of the physico-mathematicians like Galileo, Huygens, Wallis, and Wren who thought the application of mathematics to nature was the way to make progress. In particular, he offers grounds for doubting their confidence in the significance of measurement as well as their piecemeal methodology. Along the way, this this chapter offers a new interpretation of common notions in the context of treating Spinoza{\textquoteright}s account of motion.},
  author       = {Schliesser, Eric},
  booktitle    = {Oxford Handbook on Spinoza},
  editor       = {Della Rocca, Michael},
  isbn         = {9780195335828},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {1--26},
  publisher    = {Oxford University Press},
  series       = {Oxford Handbooks Online},
  title        = {Spinoza and the philosophy of science: mathematics, motion, and Being},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195335828.013.020},
  year         = {2014},
}

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