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Archive for March, 2015

Marin_mersenneThe Early Modern Letters Online project has added metadata about the published correspondence of Marin Mersenne. There is an announcement, with lots of details. And here is the Mersenne correspondence catalogue itself.

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Andrew Janiak, at Duke University, has launched Project Vox, a project and resources that is sure to be of interest to our readers:

Project Vox seeks to recover the lost voices of women who have been ignored in standard narratives of the history of modern philosophy. We aim to change those narratives, thereby changing what students around the world learn about philosophy’s history.

This project is very exciting, and looks like it will be tremendously useful for people researching, teaching, or merely studying early modern philosophy!

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Today we continue with section 37 of the Observations on Experimental Philosophy.

Section 37 consists of questions/objections one might have about Cavendish’s positions, coupled with extensive replies to these questions.  As is often the case, it is very useful to see how someone responds to objections to their views, because it can greatly increase our understanding of what they took the view to be in the first place.

Our focus today is a series of questions about the nature of knowledge and perception on Cavendish’s view, including her patterning theory of perception.  This is something we’ve talked about a great deal in the weeks leading up to today, so I am looking forward to discussing some of the details and intricacies of Cavendish’s account.

Remember that Cavendish is a panpsychist, and so, one aspect of her theory of knowledge and perception is that it will have to, in some sense, extend to all material bodies whatsoever.  Cavendish makes some allowances for variations in how animals perceive as compared to tables or rocks, but is sensitive to the fact that on her view, there must be some form of perception occurring in every parcel of matter.

For next time, we will be reading through Part II, section 3 (ending on page 200). We will not be meeting next week, so our next meeting will be March 17th.

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(Poems by Margaret Cavendish, Poems and Fancies, 1653, spelling modernized by me)

The Circle of the Brain Cannot be Squared

A Circle Round divided in four Parts

Hath been a Study amongst Men of Arts;

Ere since Archimedes, or Euclid’s time,

Hath ever Brain been stretched upon a Line.

And every Thought hath been a Figure set,

Doubts Cyphers are, Hopes as Triangulars meet.

There is Division, and Subtraction made,

And Lines drawn out, and Points exactly laid.

But yet None can demonstrate it plain,

Of Circles round, a just Four Square remain.

Thus while the Brain is round, no Squares will be,

While Thoughts are in Divisions, no Figures will agree.

Another to the Same Purpose

And thus upon the same account,

Doubling the Cube must mount;

And the Triangular must be cut so small,

Till into Equal Atoms it must fall.

For such is Mans Curiosity, and mind,

To seek for that, which hardest is to find.

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