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Robert Boyle: A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521567961
ISBN-10: 0521567963
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This work, which admirably testifies to Boyle's equal concern for 'truth and philosophical freedom' and 'religion', deserves this new edition. And, as Davis and Hunter suggest at the end of their introduction, today an essay on the idea of nature can have more than a simple historical significance." Guido Giglioni, Isis

Book Description

Published in 1686, this work attacked prevailing notions of the natural world that depicted "Nature" as a wise, benevolent and purposeful being. It represents one of the subtlest statements concerning the issues raised by the mechanical philosophy that emerged from the Scientific Revolution.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy
  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 13, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521567963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521567961
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,305,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a timid and superficial critique of the pre-scientific notion of nature as quasi-sentient and teleological. Much the bulk of the treatise is wasted on cautious and defensive arguments that a mechanical view of nature is not heretical, but that on the contrary it is the opposing view that is "dangerous to religion" (p. 62) whereas "I hope our doctrine ... may induce men to pay their admiration ... directly to God himself" rather than to what "men are wont to call the works of nature" (p. 163), etc., etc.

A highlight of the work, in my opinion, is this allegorical statement of the critical method: "For I am wont to judge of opinions as of coins: I consider much less, in any one that I am to receive, whose inscription it bears, than what metal it is made of. It is indifferent enough to me whether it was stamped many years or ages since, or came but yesterday from the mint. Nor do I regard through how many, or how few, hands it has passed for current, provided I know by the touchstone or any sure trial purposely made, whether or no it be genuine, and does or does not deserve to have been current. For if upon due proof it appears to be good, its having been long and by many received for such will not tempt me to refuse it. But if I find it counterfeit, neither the prince's image or inscription, nor its date (how ancient soever), nor the multitude of hands through which it has passed unsuspected will engage me to receive it. And one disfavouring trial, well made, will much more discredit it with me than all those specious things I have named can recommend it." (p.
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Robert Boyle: A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
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