Several recent commentators argue that Thomas Hobbes’s account of the nature of science is conventionalist. Engaging in scientific practice on a conventionalist account is more a matter of making sure one connects one term to another properly rather than checking one’s claims, e.g., by experiment. In this paper, I argue that the conventionalist interpretation of Hobbesian science accords neither with Hobbes’s theoretical account in De corpore and Leviathan nor with Hobbes’s scientific practice in De homine and elsewhere. Closely tied to the conventionalist interpretation is the deductivist interpretation, on which it is claimed that Hobbes believed sciences such as optics are deduced from geometry. I argue that Hobbesian science places simplest conceptions as the foundation for geometry and the sciences in which we use geometry, which provides strong evidence against both the conventionalist and deductivist interpretations.
This paper examines Hobbes’s criticisms of Robert Boyle’s air-pump experiments in light of Hobbes’s account in De Corpore and De Homine of the relationship of natural philosophy to geometry. I argue that Hobbes’s criticisms rely upon his understanding of what counts as “true physics.” Instead of seeing Hobbes as defending natural philosophy as “a causal enterprise … [that] as such, secured total and irrevocable assent,”1 I argue that, in his disagreement with Boyle, Hobbes relied upon his understanding of natural philosophy as a mixed mathematical science. In a mixed mathematical science one can mix facts from experience (the ‘that’) with causal principles borrowed from geometry (the ‘why’). Hobbes’s harsh criticisms of Boyle’s philosophy, especially in the Dialogus Physicus, sive De natura aeris (1661; hereafter Dialogus Physicus), should thus be understood as Hobbes advancing his view of the proper relationship of natural philosophy to geometry in terms of mixing principles from geometry with facts from experience. Understood in this light, Hobbes need not be taken to reject or diminish the importance of experiment/experience; nor should Hobbes’s criticisms in Dialogus Physicus be understood as rejecting experimenting as ignoble and not befitting a philosopher. Instead, Hobbes’s viewpoint is that experiment/experience must be understood within its proper place – it establishes the ‘that’ for a mixed mathematical science explanation.
This article presents critical texts of seven previously unpublished fragments of Exodus in Greek, written in expert uncial script and employing standard nomina sacra and critical marks, dating from between the mid-fourth to the mid-fifth century CE, and containing portions of Exod 10:3-5, 8-9, 12-15, 17-22, 24-28; 11:2-5; 12:9-12, 15-18; 26:21-25, 30-33; 30:11-15, 18-21; 34:12-15, 20-24; 35:9-17, 22-25. These seven fragments show considerable independence of both Alexandrinus and Vaticanus and resist pre-Origenian recensional work bringing the readings in line with the Hebrew. The manuscript represented by the fragments recommends itself to textual critics on the basis of its antiquity, its independence, its non-revisionist character (in regard to the MT tradition), its tendency to preserve shorter readings rather than to expand the text, and its general avoidance of carelessness in reproducing its exemplar.