With Aristotelians Like These, Who Needs Anti-Aristotelians? Chymical Corpuscular Matter Theory in Niccolò Cabeo's Meteorology

In: Early Science and Medicine


Niccolò Cabeo, a Jesuit based in Northern Italy, wrote a massive commentary on Aristotle's Meteorology that was first printed in 1646. The central concepts of this work emerged from the chymical philosophy of his time. Cabeo advocated a corpuscular matter theory that integrated Paracelsian principles and Aristotelian elements. Furthermore, he rejected the application of metaphysics and mathematics to natural philosophy. Instead he promoted experiential and experimental practices, including chymical ones, to investigate what he called the "real physical" world. Cabeo's epistemology sustained his adaptation of Aristotle, whereby substantial forms have no explanatory role, but matter and form are two different kinds of substances that differ with respect to the size of their constituent corpuscles and their forces. Maintaining the need to use Aristotle as a foundation, Cabeo relied on his unique interpretations of the text of the Meteorology in order to demonstrate that his matter theory was not alien to Aristotelianism.

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