John Locke and Natural Philosophy

Paperback | May 24, 2013

byPeter R. Anstey

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Peter Anstey presents a thorough and innovative study of John Locke's views on the method and content of natural philosophy. Focusing on Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding, but also drawing extensively from his other writings and manuscript remains, Anstey argues that Locke was anadvocate of the Experimental Philosophy: the new approach to natural philosophy championed by Robert Boyle and the early Royal Society who were opposed to speculative philosophy. On the question of method, Anstey shows how Locke's pessimism about the prospects for a demonstrative science of nature led him, in the Essay, to promote Francis Bacon's method of natural history, and to downplay the value of hypotheses and analogical reasoning in science. But, according to Anstey,Locke never abandoned the ideal of a demonstrative natural philosophy, for he believed that if we could discover the primary qualities of the tiny corpuscles that constitute material bodies, we could then establish a kind of corpuscular metric that would allow us a genuine science of nature. It wasonly after the publication of the Essay, however, that Locke came to realize that Newton's Principia provided a model for the role of demonstrative reasoning in science based on principles established upon observation, and this led him to make significant revisions to his views in the 1690s.On the content of Locke's natural philosophy, it is argued that even though Locke adhered to the Experimental Philosophy, he was not averse to speculation about the corpuscular nature of matter. Anstey takes us into new terrain and new interpretations of Locke's thought in his explorations of hismercurialist transmutational chymistry, his theory of generation by seminal principles, and his conventionalism about species.

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Peter Anstey presents a thorough and innovative study of John Locke's views on the method and content of natural philosophy. Focusing on Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding, but also drawing extensively from his other writings and manuscript remains, Anstey argues that Locke was anadvocate of the Experimental Philosophy: the n...

Peter R. Anstey studied analytic philosophy and the history of philosophy at the University of Sydney. He later took up a U2000 postdoctoral fellowship at Sydney and then a lectureship. In 2006 he moved to Dunedin in New Zealand where he is the inaugural Professor of Early Modern Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the Unive...

other books by Peter R. Anstey

Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:May 24, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199679525

ISBN - 13:9780199679522

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Natural philosophy and the aims of the Essay2. Corpuscular pessimism3. Natural history4. Hypotheses and analogy5. Vortices, the deluge and cohesion6. Mathematics7. Demonstration8. Explanation9. Iatrochemistry10. Generation11. SpeciesConclusionList of manuscriptsBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Anstey's project is fascinating, and the conclusions he brings forth are exciting and quite compelling. I see his book as a game changer in the study of Lockes philosophy of science that will set the tone for future research. It is a must-read for Locke scholars and historians of thephilosophy of science alike." --Benjamin Hill, Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science