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Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion

Mechanical Philosophy in the Making

Klaas van Berkel

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Explore the work of a founding father of the mechanical philosophy of nature, Isaac Beeckman (1588–1637).

The contribution of the Dutch craftsman and scholar Isaac Beeckman to early modern scientific thought has never been properly acknowledged. Surprisingly free from the constraints of traditional natural philosophy, he developed a view of the world in which everything, from the motion of the heavens to musical harmonies, is explained by reducing it to matter in motion. His ideas deeply influenced Descartes and Gassendi. Klaas van Berkel has succeeded in unearthing and explicating Beeckman's…

Explore the work of a founding father of the mechanical philosophy of nature, Isaac Beeckman (1588–1637).

The contribution of the Dutch craftsman and scholar Isaac Beeckman to early modern scientific thought has never been properly acknowledged. Surprisingly free from the constraints of traditional natural philosophy, he developed a view of the world in which everything, from the motion of the heavens to musical harmonies, is explained by reducing it to matter in motion. His ideas deeply influenced Descartes and Gassendi. Klaas van Berkel has succeeded in unearthing and explicating Beeckman's scientific notebooks, allowing us to follow how he developed his new philosophy, almost day by day.

Beeckman was almost forgotten until the discovery of his notebooks in the early twentieth century. Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion is the first full-length study of the ideas and motives of this remarkable figure. Van Berkel's important study first relates Beeckman's life, placing him in the religious, intellectual, educational, and social context of the Dutch Republic in its golden age. Van Berkel then analyzes the notebooks themselves and the nature and development of Beeckman's "mechanical philosophy." He demonstrates how Beeckman's artisanal background and religious convictions shaped his natural philosophy, even as the decisive influence stems from the educational philosophy of the sixteenth-century French philosopher Peter Ramus.

Historians of science and the philosophy of science will find the substance of Beeckman's thought and the unraveling of its growth and development highly interesting. Van Berkel's account provides a new and comprehensive interpretation of the origins of the mechanical philosophy of nature, the philosophy that culminated in the work of Isaac Newton.

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Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion

Klaas van Berkel

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Reviews

Reviews

This is an exceedingly rich book... it should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the origins of modern science.

Van Berkel has uncovered the rich content and historical significance of Beeckman and his journal.

Van Berkel has done an admirable job of recreating Beeckman's life and helping us to understand his development and his place in the progress of science in the seventeenth century.

A thoroughly researched... study of Beeckman's life and scientific achievements.

In the present book Van Berkel succeeds in revealing the context as well as the content of Beeckman's life and scholarly work... An important contribution to the history of the new science of the seventeenth century, and is a must for every scholar of this period.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
280
ISBN
9781421409368
Illustration Description
9 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. The Making of a Natural Philosopher, 1588–1619
2. Schoolteacher and Craftsman, 1619–1627
3. Among Patricians and Philosophers, 1627–1637
4. Principles of Mechanical Philosophy I

Preface
Introduction
1. The Making of a Natural Philosopher, 1588–1619
2. Schoolteacher and Craftsman, 1619–1627
3. Among Patricians and Philosophers, 1627–1637
4. Principles of Mechanical Philosophy I: Matter
5. Principles of Mechanical Philosophy II: Motion
6. Sources for a Mechanical Philosophy
7. Beeckman and the Scientific Revolution
Notes
Bibliographic Essay
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Klaas van Berkel

Klaas van Berkel is the Rudolf Agricola Professor of History at the University of Groningen.