Conflicting Values of Inquiry

Ideologies of Epistemology in Early Modern Europe


Historical research in previous decades has done a great deal to explore the social and political context of early modern natural and moral inquiries. Particularly since the publication of Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer’s Leviathan and the Air-Pump (1985) several studies have attributed epistemological stances and debates to clashes of political and theological ideologies. The present volume suggests that with an awareness of this context, it is now worth turning back to questions of the epistemic content itself. The contributors to the present collection were invited to explore how certain non-epistemic values had been turned into epistemic ones, how they had an effect on epistemic content, and eventually how they became ideologies of knowledge playing various roles in inquiry and application throughout early modern Europe.
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Biographical Note

Tamás Demeter is Research Group Leader at the Institute of Philosophy, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and teaches at the University of Pécs, Hungary. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and has published widely on the connections of early modern natural and moral philosophies. Kathryn Murphy, D.Phil. (2009), is Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oriel College, Oxford. Her research focuses on early modern English prose, discourses of knowledge, and the reception of ancient philosophy. Claus Zittel teaches German literature and philosophy at the Universities of Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main, and Olsztyn (Poland), and is deputy director of the Stuttgart Research Centre for Text Studies. He has published monographs, editions and many articles on Early Modern Philosophy and Literature and Philosophy, including The Artist as Reader (Brill 2013).

Review Quote

“this book is indispensable not only for those who want to know the intellectual panorama of the time, but also for those who want to understand the basis of rationality and historicity that constitutes epistemological thinking associated with ethical-moral development at the dawn of modernity." Luiz C. Bombassaro, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 4 (Winter 2016), pp. 1470-1471.

Table of contents

List of illustrations Notes on Editors and Contributors Acknowledgements Values, Norms and Ideologies in Early Modern Inquiry: An Introduction Tamás Demeter Reason and Common Culture in Early-Modern Natural Philosophy: Variations on an Epistemic Theme Peter Dear Devices and Epistemic Values Sixteenth-Century Hydraulic Engineers and the Emergence of Empiricism Matteo Valleriani Visual Perception and the Cartesian Concept of Mind: Descartes and the Camera Obscura Daniel Schmal The Epistemology of Testimony Testimony and Empiricism: John Sergeant, John Locke, and the Social History of Truth John Henry Eight Days of Darkness in 1600: Hume on Whether Testimony Can Establish Miracles Falk Wunderlich Religion and Inquiry Kepler’s Revolutionary Astronomy: Theological Unity as a Comprehensive View of the World Giora Hon Natural Theology as Superstition: David Hume and the Changing Ideology of Natural Inquiry Tamás Demeter The Problem of Parallels as a Protestant Issue in Eighteenth-Century Hungary János Tanács Values in Controversy Newton’s Strategic Manoeuvring with Simple Colours and Diagrams: A Radical Historical Interpretation Gábor Áron Zemplén The Birth of Epistemological Controversy from the Spirit of Conflict Avoidance: Hobbes on Science and Geometry Axel Gelfert The Methods and Epistemic Virtues of a ‘Science of Man’ Analytic and Synthetic Method in the Human Sciences: A Hope that Failed Thomas Sturm The Science of Man and the Invention of Usable Traditions Eric Schliesser Ethics in Epistemology Francis Bacon on Charity and the Ends of Knowledge Sorana Corneanu Spinoza’s Ethics: A Dominion within a Dominion Ruth Lorand What was Kant’s Critical Philosophy Critical of? Catherine Wilson Index


All interested in the history of early modern philosophy and science, intellectual history, and historical philosophy of science.