1st Edition

Experiment, Speculation and Religion in Early Modern Philosophy

Edited By Alberto Vanzo, Peter R. Anstey Copyright 2019
    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    318 Pages
    by Routledge

    Experimental philosophy was an exciting and extraordinarily successful development in the study of nature in the seventeenth century. Yet experimental philosophy was not without its critics and was far from the only natural philosophical method on the scene. In particular, experimental philosophy was contrasted with and set against speculative philosophy and, in some quarters, was accused of tending to irreligion. This volume brings together ten scholars of early modern philosophy, history and science in order to shed new light on the complex relations between experiment, speculation and religion in early modern Europe.

    The first six chapters of the book focus on the respective roles of experimental and speculative philosophy in individual seventeenth-century philosophers. They include Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Margaret Cavendish, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Isaac Newton. The next two chapters deal with the relation between experimental philosophy and religion with a special focus on hypotheses and natural religion. The penultimate chapter takes a broader European perspective and examines the paucity of concerns with religion among Italian natural philosophers of the period. Finally, the concluding chapter draws all these individuals and themes together to provide a critical appraisal of recent scholarship on experimental philosophy.

    This book is the first collection of essays on the subject of early modern experimental philosophy. It will appeal to scholars and students of early modern philosophy, science and religion.


    Alberto Vanzo and Peter R. Anstey

    1. Francis Bacon on Sophists, Poets and other Forms of Self-Deceit (Or, What can the Experimental Philosopher Learn from a Theoretically Informed History of Philosophy?)

    Dana Jalobeanu

    2. Robert Boyle and the Intelligibility of the Corpuscular Philosophy

    Peter R. Anstey

    3. Cavendish and Boyle on Colour and Experimental Philosophy

    Keith Allen

    4. Appeals to Experience in Hobbes’ Science of Politics

    Tom Sorell

    5. Locke and the Experimental Philosophy of the Human Mind

    Philippe Hamou

    6. Newton’s Scaffolding: The Instrumental Roles of his Optical Hypotheses

    Kirsten Walsh

    7. What (Else) was Behind the Newtonian Rejection of ‘Hypotheses’?

    Catherine Wilson

    8. From Experimental Natural Philosophy to Natural Religion: Action and Contemplation in the Early Royal Society

    Elliot Rossiter

    9. Experimental Philosophy and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Italy

    Alberto Vanzo

    10. Early Modern Experimental Philosophy: A Non-Anglocentric Overview

    Dmitri Levitin


    Alberto Vanzo is an independent scholar based in the United Kingdom. He has been a Marie Curie fellow at the universities of Birmingham and Warwick. His research in early modern philosophy ranges from Kant to experimental philosophy.

    Peter Anstey FAHA is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney. He specializes in early modern philosophy with a focus on John Locke, Robert Boyle and the French Philosophes. He is the author of John Locke and Natural Philosophy (2011) and editor of The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century (2013).