The “Making” of the Ground-Plan of Nature
Thomas Kuhn argued that two distinct “traditions”, the mathematical and the empirical, emerged from the mechanical philosophies of the seventeenth century.1 Margaret Osler, following Kuhn, argued that these two “traditions” exemplified and manifested themselves in terms of two distinct styles of scientific practices governed by distinct metaphysical and epistemological assumptions.2 Osler termed these styles as “conceptual frameworks” which differed in the emphasis that they placed on empirical evidence and mathematics in their interpretations of natural phenomena. She argued that they emerged from two distinct theological traditions, exemplified by in Gassendi and Descartes’ natural philosophies, in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Gassendi argued that all natural phenomena could be explained in terms of atoms of inanimate matter and their motion in geometrical space. This speculative metaphysics, based upon the ancient atomism of Epicurus and Lucretius, postulated that the Universe is composed of atoms and the void. Gassendi argued that atoms possessed the qualities of size, shape, and heaviness, and consequently cannot be described in terms of a priori knowledge. His theory of natural philosophy was based upon measurement and also the assumption that essences were know- able only to an absolutely free God.
KeywordsBurner Helium Coherence Posit Sine
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