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- 17th Century Theories of Substance
- The Rationalists
- The Rationalists: Between Tradition and Innovation
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17th Century Theories of Substance
Rationalism, or a belief that we come to knowledge through the use of logic, and thus independently of sensory experience, was critical to the debates of the Enlightenment period, when most philosophers lauded the power of reason but insisted that knowledge comes from experience. Rationalism—as an appeal to human reason as a way of obtaining knowledge—has a philosophical history dating from antiquity. While rationalism, as the view that reason is the main source of knowledge, did not dominate the Enlightenment, it laid critical basis for the debates that developed over the course of the 18th century. Descartes was the first of the modern rationalists. He thought that only knowledge of eternal truths including the truths of mathematics and the foundations of the sciences could be attained by reason alone, while the knowledge of physics required experience of the world, aided by the scientific method. Leibniz, Spinoza, and Descartes were all well-versed in mathematics, as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. Since the Enlightenment, rationalism is usually associated with the introduction of mathematical methods into philosophy, as seen in the works of Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza.
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For 17 th century philosophers, the term is reserved for the ultimate constituents of reality on which everything else depends. This article discusses the most important theories of substance from the 17 th century: those of Descartes , Spinoza , and Leibniz. Although these philosophers were highly original thinkers, they shared a basic conception of substance inherited from the scholastic-Aristotelian tradition from which philosophical thinking was emerging. In a general sense each of these theories is a way of working out dual commitments: a commitment to substance as an ultimate subject and a commitment to the existence of God as a substance. In spite of these systematic similarities between the theories, they ultimately offer very different accounts of the nature of substance. Given the foundational role that substance plays in the metaphysical schemes of these thinkers, it will not be surprising to find that these theories of substance underlie dramatically different accounts of the nature and structure of reality.
Please contact mpub-help umich. For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy. The essay concludes with an historically-minded suggestion for those eager to revitalize the once-again popular notion of grounding. Thought through carefully, however, that demand, Della Rocca argues, shows that the PSR is inconsistent with any plurality whatsoever. And the same holds for us. Would-be contemporary rationalists must similarly abandon the Principle of Sufficient Reason or embrace a thoroughgoing monism. So, for example, it has been maintained that the fact that a ball is red-and-round might be grounded in the fact that it is red and the fact that it is round.
Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz stand out among their seventeenth-century contemporaries as the great rationalist philosophers. Each sought to construct a.
The Rationalists: Between Tradition and Innovation
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz — German rationalist philosopher, mathematician, and logician. John Locke — philosopher. Any philosophy magnifying the role played by unaided reason, in the acquisition and justification of knowledge. The preference for reason over sense experience as a source of knowledge began with the Eleatics, and played a central role in Platonism. Its most significant modern development was in the 17th-century belief that the paradigm of knowledge was the non-sensory intellectual intuition that God would have into the workings of all things, and that human beings taste in their acquaintance with mathematics.
This book introduces student to the three major figures of modern philosophy known as the rationalists. It is not for complete beginners, but it is an accessible account of their thought. By concerning itself with metaphysics, and in particular substance, the book relates an important historical debate largely neglected by the contemporary debates in the once again popular area of traditional metaphysics.
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