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The metaphysical foundations of modern science

Author: Edwin A Burtt
Publisher: Mineola, New York : Dover Publications, 2003. ©1954.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
To the medieval thinker, man was the center of creation and all of nature existed purely for his benefit. The shift from the philosophy of the Middle Ages to the modern view of humanity's less central place in the universe ranks as the greatest revolution in the history of Western thought, and this classic in the philosophy of science describes and analyzes how that profound change occurred. A fascinating analysis  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Named Person: Isaac Newton; Isaac Newton
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Edwin A Burtt
ISBN: 0486425517 9780486425511
OCLC Number: 50630612
Notes: Originally published: The metaphysical foundations of modern physical science. 2nd, rev. ed. Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1954.
Description: 352 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Contents: Chapter I: Introduction --
The historical problem suggested by the nature of modern thought --
The metaphysical foundations of modern science the key to this problem --
Chapter II: Copernicus and Kepler --
The problem of the new astronomy --
Metaphysical bearings of the Pre-Copernican progress in mathematics --
Ultimate implications of Copernicus' step-revival of Pythagoreanism --
Kepler's early acceptance of the New World-scheme --
First formulation of the new metaphysics- Causality, quantity, primary and secondary qualities --
Chapter III: Galileo --
The science of "local motion" --
Nature as mathematical order - Galileo's method --
The subjectivity of secondary qualities --
Motion, space, and time --
The nature of causality - God and the physical world - positivism --
Chapter IV: Descartes --
Mathematics as the key to knowledge --
Geometrical conception of the physical universe --
"Res extensa" and "Res cogitans" --
The problem of mind and body --
Chapter V: Seventeenth-century English philosophy --
Hobbes' attack on the Cartesian dualism --
Treatment of secondary qualities and causality --
More's notion of extension as a category of spirit --
The "Spirit of nature" --
Space as the divine presence --
Barrow's philosophy of method, space, and time --
Chapter VI: Gilbert and Boyle --
The non-mathematical scientific current --
Boyle's importance as scientist and philosopher --
Acceptance and defence of the mechanical worldview --
Value of qualitative and teleological explanations --
Insistence on reality of secondary qualities - Conception of man --
Pessimistic view of human knowledge - Positivism --
Boyle's philosophy of the ether --
God's relation to the mechanical world --
Summary of the Pre-Newtonian development --
Chapter VII: The metaphysics of Newton --
Section 1: Newton's model --
Section 2: The doctrine of positivism --
Section 3: Newton's general conception of the world, and of man's relation to it --
Section 4: Space, time, and mass --
Section 5: Newton's conception of ether --
Section 6: God-creator and preserver of the order of the world --
Chapter VIII: Conclusion.
Other Titles: Metaphysical foundations of modern physical science
Responsibility: E.A. Burtt.
More information:

Abstract:

To the medieval thinker, man was the center of creation and all of nature existed purely for his benefit. The shift from the philosophy of the Middle Ages to the modern view of humanity's less central place in the universe ranks as the greatest revolution in the history of Western thought, and this classic in the philosophy of science describes and analyzes how that profound change occurred. A fascinating analysis of the works of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, Gilbert, Boyle, and Newton, it not only establishes the reasons for the triumph of the modern perspective, but also accounts for certain limitations in this view that continue to characterize contemporary scientific thought. A criticism as well as a history of the change that made possible the rise of modern science, this volume is also a guide to understanding the methods and accomplishments of the great philosopher-scientists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. -- from back cover.

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