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Monthly Update

Hello, readers!

In our monthly updates, we look back at what happened on the blog in the past few weeks and we highlight recent posts, conferences, and upcoming deadlines on early modern experimental philosophy.

Since the last monthly update, we wrote on Wolff’s criticism of Newton‘s hypothesis non fingo, on whether Newton actually feigns any hypotheses and on Tetens’ distinction between experimental and speculative philosophy. We also continued our discussion with Eric Schliesser on experimental vs speculative philosophy. Peter responded to Eric’s first review of our project by distinguishing Baconian and non-Baconian forms of experimental philosophy. Eric expanded on his views on the history of experimental philosophy on the New APPS blog. Then Juan and Eric debated on Newtonianism and anti-Newtonianism in early modern moral philosophy. Many thanks to Eric Schliesser for his stimulating inputs and to Zsolt Almási and Gerhard Wiesenfeldt for their comments on the blog. They are much appreciated.

Juan and Kirsten are giving two papers at the upcoming conference of the New Zealand division of the Australasian Association of Philosophy. The conference is hosted this year by the University of Waikato in Hamilton, and it will run from the 5th to the 9th of December. Both Kirsten and Juan will be talking about topics related to their PhD research. Kirsten’s paper investigates Newton’s first optical paper, and Juan will be talking about Turnbull and the theory of association of ideas. Here are the abstracts:

Hypotheses and Newton’s First Optical Papers (by Kirsten Walsh)

Newton’s famous pronouncement, Hypotheses non fingo, is controversial. Some writers, such as Sabre and Dear, argue that Newton is merely ‘paying lip-service’ to the dominant methodological tradition. Others, such as Janiak, argue that Newton’s anti-hypotheticalism is a polemical device, designed specifically to oppose his Cartesian and Leibnizian critics. I argue that we should take Newton’s pronouncement as a genuine account of his methodology.

I take a fresh look at Newton’s anti-hypothetical stance in light of the role of hypotheses in the Baconian-experimental tradition in which Newton’s early research was conducted. I examine Newton’s earliest publications: his first papers on optics. I argue that Newton is working with a rough but genuine distinction between hypothesis and theory. This distinction is consistent with both the Baconian-experimental method and with his later anti-hypothetical pronouncements.

The Association of Ideas in Hobbes, Locke, and Turnbull (by Juan Gomez)

John Locke added a chapter titled ‘Of the Association of Ideas’ to the fourth edition (1700) of his Essay concerning Human Understanding, which most scholars regard as just an afterthought. However, it has been argued that the theory of association explained in this chapter had a remarkable influence on most thinkers of the Scottish enlightenment, including Hutcheson, Hume, and Hartley, just to name a few. In his inquiry into the development of the theory of association in eighteenth-century Britain, Martin Kallich argues that Locke was not the first thinker in the early modern period to come up with such a theory, since Hobbes had already proposed a similar doctrine in Leviathan. Kallich also thinks that Locke’s originality consists in examining the association of ideas as a “hindrance to right thinking.” Hobbes, on the other hand, has a ‘positive’ representation of the theory. If we accept Kallich’s interpretation, George Turnbull’s description of the theory of association stands as an interesting case; he mentions Locke as one of his main sources, but gives a particularly ‘positive’ version of the association of ideas. In this paper I examine the theory of association in Hobbes, Locke and Turnbull, and argue for two claims: 1.) Kallich’s interpretation is not quite accurate, since Hobbes’ version of the theory of association is not as closely related to Locke’s version as he thinks; in fact, it can’t even be regarded as a proper theory of association 2.) Turnbull’s commitment to the experimental method led him to construct a version of the association of ideas that was the opposite of what Locke meant by ’association’. I will support my claims by showing the similarities and differences in the three versions of the theory, focusing on the difference between ‘natural association’, ‘associated ideas’, and ‘trains of thought’.

Early Modern experimental philosophy on the net:

Upcoming deadlines:

That’s it for this time. Have we missed some event, call for paper, or interesting reading? Would you like us to include your writings or events in the next monthly update? Do let us know! Also, you can subscribe to our mailing list or RSS feed if you would like to be notified of new posts. For more frequent updates, follow us on Twitter. You can “like” us on Facebook by pressing the buttons at the bottom of each post and on our Facebook page if you want. But most of all, thanks for reading and feel free to send us your comments, suggestions, and criticisms.

This coming Monday Kirsten will publish a post on Newton’s views on certainty in natural science. Stay tuned!

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