Spinoza in the Century of Science
I would like to suggest a context, both historical and philosohpical, for the papers that will follow on detailed aspects of Spinoza’s science. My aspiration, however, is not to situate Spinoza among the natural philosophical giants who opened the way to modern science. I cannot conscript him into the ranks of Descartes and Boyle, Leibniz and Newton. Spinoza does not, alas, fit comfortably in the lineup of scientific ‘greats’, either theoretically or by virtue of some concrete scientific achievement. He was, of course, a great thinker and a great philosopher. But his philosophy was strikingly disconnected from the sifting and interrogating science that went on around him. His own interest in experimental science is well-documented, but it was carefully bracketed from his larger metaphysical concerns. Philosophically, as opposed to biographically, he was as remote from elementary ‘doing’ of science and especially from the idea of learning by experience as Plato was.
KeywordsModern Science Perceptual Judgment Secondary Quality Great Thinker Great Philosopher
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