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The Unity of Science in Early-Modern Philosophy: Subalternation, Metaphysics and the Geometrical Manner in Scholasticism, Galileo and Descartes

Biener, Zvi (2008) The Unity of Science in Early-Modern Philosophy: Subalternation, Metaphysics and the Geometrical Manner in Scholasticism, Galileo and Descartes. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The project of constructing a complete system of knowledge---a system capable of integrating all that is and could possibly be known---was common to many early-modern philosophers and was championed with particular alacrity by René Descartes. The inspiration for this project often came from mathematics in general and from geometry in particular: Just as propositions were ordered in a geometrical demonstration, the argument went, so should propositions be ordered in an overall system of knowledge. Science, it was thought, had to proceed `more geometrico'. I offer a new interpretation of `science emph{more geometrico}' based on an analysis of the explanatory forms used in certain branches of geometry. These branches were optics, astronomy, and mechanics; the so-called subalternate, subordinate, or mixed-mathematical sciences. In Part I, I investigate the nature of the mixed-mathematical sciences according to Aristotle and some `liberal Jesuit' scholastic-Aristotelians. In Part II, the heart of the work, I analyze the metaphysics and physics of Descartes' "Principles of Philosophy" (1644, 1647) in light of the findings of Part I and an example from Galileo. I conclude by arguing that we must broaden our understanding of the early-modern conception of `science more geometrico' to include concepts taken from the mixed-mathematical sciences. These render the geometrical manner more flexible than previously thought.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairMcGuire, J. E.jemcg@pitt.eduJEMCG
Committee CoChairMachamer, Peterpkmach@pitt.eduPKMACH
Committee MemberGarber,
Committee MemberLennox, James G.jglennox@pitt.eduJGLENNOX
Committee MemberPalmieri, Paolopap7@pitt.eduPAP7
Date: 10 June 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 3 April 2008
Approval Date: 10 June 2008
Submission Date: 9 March 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Epistemology; Knowledge; Mathematics; Scientific Revolution; Unity of Science
Other ID:, etd-03092008-215336
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:32
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:37


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