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Christoph Sander

Why does a magnet attract iron, why does a compass needle point north? While the magnet or lodestone was known since antiquity, magnetism became one of the most important topics in early modern natural science and technology. In Magnes Christoph Sander explores this fascinating subject and draws, for the first time, a comprehensive picture of the early modern research on magnetism (c. 1500–1650). The study examines in breadth, covering all disciplines of this epoch, what scholars understood by ‘magnet’ and ‘magnetism,’ the properties they ascribed to it, in which instruments and practices magnetism was employed, and how they tried to explain this exciting phenomenon. This historical panorama is unpreceded and based on around 1500 historical sources, including over 100 manuscripts.

Samuel Pufendorf Disciple of Hobbes

For a Re-Interpretation of Modern Natural Law

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Fiammetta Palladini

Fiammetta Palladini’s work is one of the most important discussions of Pufendorf to appear in the latter part of the twentieth century. It cut through the existing field of Pufendorf studies, laying bare its inherited templates and tacit assumptions. Palladini was thus able to peel back the ‘Grotian’ commentary in which the great thinker had been shrouded, revealing a Pufendorf well-known in the 1680s—a formidable and dangerous natural jurist and political theorist—but doubly obscured in the 1980s and still today, by a philosophical history that flies too high to see him, and by a commentary literature that too often does not like what it sees. David Saunders’ remarkable translation carries Palladini’s argument into English with maximum fidelity.

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Edited by Paolo Ponzù Donato

Uberto Decembrio’s Four Books on the Commonwealth ( De re publica libri IV, ca. 1420), edited and translated by Paolo Ponzù Donato, is one of the earliest examples of the reception of Plato’s Republic in the 15th century. This humanistic dialogue provides a thoughtful insight on themes such as justice, the best government, the morals of the prince and citizen, education, and religion. Decembrio’s dialogue is dedicated to Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, the ‘worst enemy’ of Florence. Making use of literary and documentary sources, Ponzù Donato convincingly proves that Decembrio’s thought, sharing many points with the Florentine humanist Leonardo Bruni, belongs to the same world of Civic Humanism.

Naturalism and Democracy

A Commentary on Spinoza's "Political Treatise" in the Context of His System

Edited by Wolfgang Bartuschat, Stephan Kirste and Manfred Walther

Naturalism and Democracy, first published in German in 2014, presents a long-awaited commentary on Spinoza’s Political Treatise (Tractatus politicus). Its contents reflect a recent intensification in the interest in Spinoza’s political philosophy in Germany. The volume addresses Spinoza’s political philosophy according to its place within his philosophical system as a whole, beginning with his theory of the natural genesis of law and state. Following from this are commentaries on the foundations of political philosophy, the relation of natural and state law, the theory of sovereignty, and theory of international relations. These chapters lay the basis for four essays interpreting Spinoza’s attempt to conceive of a systematic optimization of political and legal institutions for all three forms of governance (monarchy, aristocracy, democracy). The volume closes with an analysis of the current relevance of Spinoza’s political thinking and his influence on contemporary debates.

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Edited by Simone Zurbuchen

The Law of Nations and Natural Law 1625-1800 offers innovative studies on the development of the law of nations after the Peace of Westphalia. This period was decisive for the origin and constitution of the discipline which eventually emancipated itself from natural law and became modern international law.

A specialist on the law of nations in the Swiss context and on its major figure, Emer de Vattel, Simone Zurbuchen prompted scholars to explore the law of nations in various European contexts. The volume studies little known literature related to the law of nations as an academic discipline, offers novel interpretations of classics in the field, and deconstructs ‘myths’ associated with the law of nations in the Enlightenment.

Distinctions of Reason and Reasonable Distinctions

The Academic Life of John Wallis (1616–1703)

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Jason M. Rampelt

Distinctions of Reason and Reasonable Distinctions is an intellectual biography of John Wallis (1616-1703), professor of mathematics at Oxford for over half a century. His career spans the political tumult of the English Civil Wars, the religious upheaval of the Church of England, and the fascinating developments in mathematics and natural philosophy. His ability to navigate this terrain and advance human learning in the academic world was facilitated by his use of the Jesuit Francisco Suarez’s theory of distinctions. This Roman Catholic’s philosophy in the hands of a Protestant divine fostered an instrumentalism necessary to bridge the old and new. With this tool, Wallis brought modern science into the university and helped form the Royal Society.

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Edited by Pietro Daniel Omodeo

This volume is devoted to the natural philosopher Bernardino Telesio (1509-1588) and his place in the scientific debates of the Renaissance. Telesio’s thought is emblematic of Renaissance culture in its aspiration towards universality; the volume deals with the roots and reception of his vistas from an interdisciplinary perspective ranging from the history of philosophy to that of physics, astronomy, meteorology, medicine, and psychology. The editor, Pietro Daniel Omodeo and leading specialists of intellectual history introduce Telesio’s conceptions to English-speaking historians of science through a series of studies, which aim to foster our understanding of a crucial early modern author, his world, achievement, networks, and influence.

Contributors are Roberto Bondì, Arianna Borrelli, Rodolfo Garau, Giulia Giannini, Miguel Ángel Granada, Hiro Hirai, Martin Mulsow, Elio Nenci, Pietro Daniel Omodeo, Nuccio Ordine, Alessandro Ottaviani, Jürgen Renn, Riccarda Suitner, and Oreste Trabucco.

Sacrifice and Self-interest in Seventeenth-Century France

Quietism, Jansenism, and Cartesianism

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Thomas M. Lennon

How much of our own self- interest should we be willing to sacrifice for love of another? The Quietists answered, all of it, even the salvation of our own soul. Opposing them were the Jansenists, including Arnauld, who saw self-interest as inescapable. The debate swept across French society in the 17th century, with Bossuet and Fénelon on opposite sides, and was multi- dimensional, with political and ecclesiastical intrigue, charges of heresy, and many shenanigans. Initially theological, the debate’s basis lay in differing philosophical concepts of freewill, with both sides claiming support from Descartes’s views. The debate thus highlights interpretation of the Cartesians, especially Malebranche, a prominent participant in it. Nevertheless, this is the first book on the debate in English.

Exceptional Crime in Early Modern Spain

Taxonomic and Intellectual Perspectives

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Elena del Río Parra

Exceptional Crime in Early Modern Spain accounts for the representation of violent and complex murders, analysing the role of the criminal, its portrayal through rhetorical devices, and its cultural and aesthetic impact.
Proteic traits allow for an understanding of how crime is constructed within the parameters of exception, borrowing from pre-existent forms while devising new patterns and categories such as criminography, the “star killer”, the staging of crimes as suicides, serial murders, and the faking of madness. These accounts aim at bewildering and shocking demanding readers through a carefully displayed cult to excessive behaviour. The arranged “economy of death” displayed in murder accounts will set them apart from other exceptional instances, as proven by their long-standing presence in subsequent centuries.

Fichtes Bildtheorie im Kontext

Teil I: Entwicklungsgeschichtliche und systematische Aspekte

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Edited by Christian Klotz and Matteo Vincenzo d'Alfonso

In Fichte’s late philosophy, the concept of image becomes the central notion of the Science of Knowledge. Both the representational reference of consciousness to the objects of its experience and its relation to an absolute being which transcends all appearances are explained from the image-like character which consciousness acquires through its own activity.

The present volume collects contributions which contextualize Fichte’s theory of image in various respects, focusing on its relation to pre-modern theories of image, its changing role in the development of Fichte’s thinking and its place within Fichte’s foundation of philosophy in the area between theory of truth or validity and ontology.


Der Bildbegriff wird in Fichtes Spätphilosophie zum zentralen Begriff der Wissenschaftslehre. Sowohl der repräsentationale Bezug des Bewusstseins zu den Gegenständen seiner Erfahrung, als auch sein Verhältnis zu einem alle Erscheinungen übersteigenden absoluten Sein wird hierbei aus der von ihm selbst aktiv ausgebildeten Bildeigenschaft des Bewusstseins verstanden.

Der vorliegende Band versammelt Beiträge, die Fichtes Bildtheorie in verschiedenen Hinsichten kontextualisieren, wobei ihr Verhältnis zu prä-modernen Bildtheorien, ihre wechselnde Rolle in der Entwicklung von Fichtes Denken und ihre im Spannungsfeld von Wahrheits- bzw. Geltungstheorie und Ontologie angesiedelte Stellung in Fichtes Grundlegung der Philosophie im Mittelpunkt stehen.