Steno and the Philosophers


Steno and the Philosophers offers an account of the life and works of the Danish scientist and theologian Nicolas Steno (1638-1686). Its aim is to study the intricate relations between philosophy, theology, and the emerging sciences (anatomy, medicine and geology in particular) in the early modern Republic of Letters through the biographical prism of one of its most fascinating members. Concentrating on Steno’s contributions to natural philosophy and his relations to philosophers, the volume portrays Steno, not only as an influential scientist and theologian, but also as a natural philosopher who played a pivotal, albeit ambivalent, role in the intellectual networks amongst philosophers and natural scientists in the late seventeenth century.

Contributors include Raphaële Andrault, Jakob Bek-Thomsen, Daniel Garber, Vasiliki Girgoropoulo, Eric Jorink, Troels Kardel, Mogens Lærke, Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen, Justin E. H. Smith, Frank Sobiech and Pina Totaro.

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Raphaële Andrault, Ph. D. (2010), ENS de Lyon, is researcher at the CNRS. She has published monographs on early modern philosophy and life sciences, and a critical edition of Steno’s Discours sur l’anatomie du cerveau (Classiques Garnier, 2009).

Mogens Lærke, Ph. D. (2004), Paris IV; Hab. (2014), ENS de Lyon, is senior researcher at the CNRS. He authored Leibniz lecteur de Spinoza (Champion, 2008) and Les Lumières de Leibniz (Classiques Garnier, 2015), and more than seventy articles on early modern philosophy.

"This erudite collection of essays fills a lacuna in studies of early modern natural philosophy and Nicolas Steno (1638–86) [...] Steno’s virtuosic mind combined religious and natural-philosophical erudition, keen visual sensitivity, and kinetic genius in dissection, making him a difficult character to analyze in our specialized academic world. In its multivariate and considered approach, this volume goes a long way to reconstructing the quality and character of Steno’s thinking and his intellectual milieu. I highly recommend it."
Anna Marie Roos, University of Lincoln, in Renaissance Quarterly LXXII.4

"l’ensemble de l’ouvrage offre un témoignage particulièrement significatif d’un aspect central de la crise du cartésianisme"
Henri Laux, Université Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne, in Archives de Philosophie 82.4, pp. 861-862
List of illustrations


List of contributors

Raphaële Andrault and Mogens Lærke

I. From Natural Philosophy to Theology

1. Modus politicus vivendi. Nicolaus Steno and the Dutch (Swammerdam, Spinoza and other friends), 1660–1664
Erik Jorink

2. Jesuits, Women, Money or Natural Theology? Nicolas Steno’s Conversion to Catholicism in 1667
Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen

3. Leibniz and Steno, 1675–1680
Mogens Lærke

II. Anatomy and Metaphysics: Steno and Cartesianism

4. Human Brain and Human Mind. The Discourse on the Anatomy of the Brain and its philosophical reception
Raphaële Andrault

5. Steno’s Critique of Descartes and Louis de La Forge’s Response
Vasiliki Grigoropoulou

6. Steno’s Myology: The Right Theory at the Wrong Time
Troels Kardel

III. The Natural History of the Earth

7. Thinking from Traces Nicolas Steno’s Palaeontology and the Method of Science
Justin E. H. Smith

8. Steno, Leibniz, and the History of the World
Daniel Garber

IV. Steno at the Medici Court

9. Steno’s Historia. Methods and Practices at the Court of Ferdinando II
Jakob Bek-Thomsen

10. Some observations on Nicolas Steno as a critical reader at the borderline of natural science and theology: André Martin and Giordano Bruno
Frank Sobiech

11. Steno in Italy. From Florence to Rome
Pina Totaro

Index of names
Readers with an interest in the history of philosophy and the history of science in the 17th century, and anyone interested in the relationships between theology and life sciences.

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