Tant dans sa Monas Hieroglyphica (1564) que dans sa Mathematical Praeface (1570), John Dee défend une vue des mathématiques qui se veut compatible avec l'idée d'un 'Pythagoricall, and Platonicall perfect scholer'. Cet article montre que ce furent les doctrines arithmologiques contenues dans les épîtres de Trithème—lues par Dee dans une copie du De vsu et mysteriis notarum (1550), qu'il acheta à Anvers en 1562/3—qui exercèrent sur les doctrines pythagoriciennes de la Monas de Dee un impact en profondeur. Alors que des commentateurs antérieurs ont mis l'accent sur l'orientation alchimique de l'oeuvre de Dee, une lecture serrée des lettres de Trithème (et les annotations portées par Dee sur celles-ci) montre qu'il croyait que le connaissance des mystères arithmologiques de Trithème s'étendait bien au-delà de l'alchimie, et devait constituer une 'discipline nouvelle' appelée à devenir une science occulte universelle.
The Animadversiones in Elementorum Philosophiae by a little known Flemish scholar G. Moranus, published in Brussels in 1655 was an early European response to Hobbes’s De Corpore. Although it is has been referred to by various Hobbes scholars, such as Noel Malcolm, Doug Jesseph, and Alexander Bird it has been little studied. Previous scholarship has tended to focus on the mathematical criticisms of André Tacquet which Moranus included in the form of a letter in his volume. Moranus’s philosophical objections to Hobbes’s natural philosophy offer a fascinating picture of the critical reception of Hobbes’s work by a religious writer trained in the late Scholastic tradition. Moranus’s opening criticism clearly shows that he is unhappy with Hobbes’s exclusion of the divine and the immaterial from natural philosophy. He asks what authority Hobbes has for breaking with the common understanding of philosophy, as defined by Cicero ‘the knowledge of things human and divine’. He also offers natural philosophical and theological criticisms of Hobbes for overlooking the generation of things involved in the Creation. He also attacks the natural philosophical underpinning of Hobbes’s civil philosophy. In this paper I look at a number of philosophical topics which Moranus criticised in Hobbes’s work, including his mechanical psychology, his theory of imaginary space, his use of the concept of accidents, his blurring of the distinction between the human being and the animal, and his theories of motion. Moranus’s criticisms, which are a mixture of philosophical and theological objections, gives us some clear indications of what made Hobbes’ natural philosophy controversial amongst his contemporaries, and sheds new light on the early continental reception of Hobbes’s work.
In this article, I argue that the interest on the part of Bacon, Hill, and Warner in corpuscularian interpretations of natural phenomena and their similarity to certain views later held by Digby or Boyle offer a strong indication for the existence of an 'independent English atomistic milieu', a view that fits more closely Porter & Teich's recent model of national contexts for early modern science than Kargon's traditional picture of English atomism as a foreign import. In the course of this article, I consider Francis Bacon's anti-Aristotelian polemic in the light of his continued adherence to a conception of material form and his essentially Aristotelian metaphysics, as well as the relationship between his conception of form and his corpuscular theories of matter. This is followed by an examination of Walter Warner's natural philosophical manuscripts. Particular attention is paid to his Averroist distinction between assistant form (which has the role of an active, organizing, kinetic principle) and insistent forms (passive material formation, according to the nature of the substance and its internal combination or mixture of parts) in his treatment of the atoms of vital spirits and of the transmission of light, an idea that has interesting links to the scholastic notion of the sphaera actiuitatis. It is shown how Warner replaced the assistant form/sphere of activity with an energic principle, which he called vis and which took over many of the characteristics of the formative principles it replaced. I then compare Warner's use of vis with Nicholas Hill's, for whom it represented a hypostatic principle, i.e. an instrument of divine agency in the physical world. Such a strong view of divine causation enabled Hill to undertake a more radical critique of Aristotelian form than was available to Warner. My discussion ends with a look at Boyle's critique of the modern Aristotelian doctrine of forms, and his re-interpretation of form in terms of atomic configuration and the modifications of local motion. I end by suggesting that the 'phasing out' of Aristotelian notions of form, and their replacement with ideas of force or local motion opened the way for a similar 'phasing out' of divine causation, by making force a self-sufficient explanatory principle.