, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 91–93 | Cite as

Beeckman’s engagement of mechanics and philosophy

Klaas van Berkel: Isaac Beeckman on matter and motion: Mechanical philosophy in the making. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013, viii+265pp, $39.95 PB
  • Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis
Book Review

Isaac Beeckman (1588–1637) was a master craftsman from the Zeeland town Middelburg who studied to become schoolmaster in the Holland towns of Rotterdam and Dordrecht. He was a strict Calvinist and a tireless observer and contemplator of natural phenomena. Foremost, he was the first mechanical philosopher in Europe who played a key role in the intellectual development of René Descartes (1596–1650) and inspired pioneers of mechanistic thinking Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) and Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655). We know this because Beeckman kept a journal throughout his life in which he recorded his observations and ideas. The journal is a treasure trove of early modern knowing. Beeckman had a keen eye for the world around him and responded to what he saw, as well as the reflections of others, with a highly original mind. The journal was discovered in 1905 by Cornelis de Waard (1879–1963), who subsequently edited and published it between 1939 and 1953 (Beeckman 1939–1953). Although some...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science, Technology and Policy StudiesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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