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Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science

Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science

Editors: Omodeo, Pietro Daniel, Garau, Rodolfo (Eds.)

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  • Opens up an as yet unexplored epistemological topic
  • Proposes an innovative approach to sources
  • Is the first to present a systematic treatment of fundamental epistemological issues
  • Brings together a variety of authors and sources in the history of science and philosophy
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  • ISBN 978-3-319-67378-3
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Hardcover $119.99
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About this book

This volume considers contingency as a historical category resulting from the combination of various intellectual elements – epistemological, philosophical, material, as well as theological and, broadly speaking, intellectual. With contributions ranging from fields as diverse as the histories of physics, astronomy, astrology, medicine, mechanics, physiology, and natural philosophy, it explores the transformation of the notion of contingency across the late-medieval, Renaissance, and the early modern period. Underpinned by a necessitated vision of nature, seventeenth century mechanism widely identified apparent natural irregularities with the epistemological limits of a certain explanatory framework. However, this picture was preceded by, and in fact emerged from, a widespread characterization of contingency as an ontological trait of nature, typical of late-Scholastic and Renaissance science. On these bases, this volume shows how epistemological categories, which are preconditions of knowledge as “historically-situated a priori” and, seemingly, self-evident, are ultimately rooted in time.

Contingency is intrinsic to scientific practice. Whether observing the behaviour of a photon, diagnosing a patient, or calculating the orbit of a distant planet, scientists face the unavoidable challenge of dealing with data that differ from their models and expectations. However, epistemological categories are not fixed in time. Indeed, there is something fundamentally different in the way an Aristotelian natural philosopher defined a wonder or a “monstrous” birth as “contingent”, a modern scientist defines the unexpected result of an experiment, and a quantum physicist the behavior of a photon. Although to each inquirer these instances appeared self-evidently contingent, each also employs the concept differently.

About the authors

Pietro Daniel Omodeo is a cultural historian of science and a professor of philosophy of science at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy). He is the principal investigator of the ERC Consolidator research endeavour “Institutions and Metaphysics of Cosmology in the Epistemic Networks of Seventeenth-Century Europe” (Horizon 2020, GA 725883). His publications comprise Copernicus in the Cultural Debates of the Renaissance: Reception, Legacy, Transformation (2014) and Science in Court Society: Giovanni Battista Benedetti’s Diversarum speculationum mathematicarum et physicarum liber (Turin, 1585) (2018, co-authored with Jürgen Renn). His present projects include the edition of the volume Bernardino Telesio and the Natural Sciences in the Renaissance (in press) and the monograph For Political Epistemology: The Problem of Ideology in Science Studies (in press).

Rodolfo Garau is a historian of philosophy and of science. He is currently postdoc researcher at the ERC Consolidator research endeavour “Institutions and Metaphysics of Cosmology in the Epistemic Networks of Seventeenth-Century Europe” (Horizon 2020, GA 725883), based at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. After his PhD (2015), he held postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and at the Université du Quebéc à Trois-Rivières, and, as adjunct lecturer, at Bard College Berlin and at the University of Turin. His current research foci are: 1. the cross-use of concepts between physics, biology, and metaphysics in the early modern period, on which he is preparing a volume exploring the history of the concept of conatus (“endeavor”) between late-Scholastic and modern science and philosophy; 2. the physics, astronomy, and logic of Pierre Gassendi, of whom he is also translating (with Justin E. H. Smith) the Syntagma philosophicum for Oxford University Press; and 3. the critical investigation of the emergence of, and correlation between, modern race theories and criminology. 

Table of contents (15 chapters)

Table of contents (15 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $89.00
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-67378-3
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $119.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-67376-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science
Editors
  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo
  • Rodolfo Garau
Series Title
Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
Series Volume
332
Copyright
2019
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-67378-3
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-67378-3
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-67376-9
Series ISSN
0068-0346
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 342
Number of Illustrations
21 b/w illustrations
Topics