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The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760



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Oxford University Press
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This is the Reprint edition with a publication date of 12/29/2012.

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  • The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760
    The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760


Understanding the emergence of a scientific culture - one in which cognitive values generally are modelled on, or subordinated to, scientific ones - is one of the foremost historical and philosophical problems with which we are now confronted. The significance of the emergence of such scientific values lies above all in their ability to provide the criteria by which we come to appraise cognitive enquiry, and which shape our understanding of what it can achieve. The period between the 1680s and the middle of the eighteenth century is a very distinctive one in this development. It is then that we witness the emergence of the idea that scientific values form a model for all cognitive claims. It is also at this time that science explicitly goes beyond technical expertise and begins to articulate a world-view designed to displace others, whether humanist or Christian. But what occurred took place in a peculiar and overdetermined fashion, and the outcome in the mid-eighteenth century was not the triumph of 'reason', as has commonly been supposed, but rather a simultaneous elevation of the standing of science and the beginnings of a serious questioning of whether science offers a comprehensive form of understanding. The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibilityis the sequel to Stephen Gaukroger's acclaimed 2006 bookThe Emergence of a Scientific Culture. It offers a rich and fascinating picture of the development of intellectual culture in a period where understandings of the natural realm began to fragment.

Author Biography

Stephen Gaukroger is Professor of History of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Sydney, where he also holds an ARC Professorial Research Fellowship, and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He is author of seven books in the history of science and history of philosophy, including an intellectual biography of Descartes, as well as translations of the works of Descartes and Arnauld, and is editor of six collections of essays.

Table of Contents

Part I
1. The Construction of a New World Picture
2. The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
3. The Metaphysical Unity of Natural Philosophy
4. From Experimental Philosophy to Empiricism
5. Explaining the Phenomena
6. Natural Philosophy and the Republic of Letters
7. The Realm of Reason
8. The Fortunes of a Unified Model of Natural Philosophy
9. Material Activity
10. Living and Dead Matter
11. The Realm of Sensibility
12. Historical Understanding and the Human Condition
Bibliography of Works Cited

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