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Previous Early Modern Interest Group Topics

Spring 2017

This semester the Early Modern Interest Group will be reading selections from David Hartley's Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, His Expectations (1749) 

January 27: David Hartley's Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations: Chapter 1, Introduction (pp. 1-4) and Section 1 (pp. 5-55)
February 10: Schabas, M. (draft manuscript)  Proportioning Belief to the Evidence: Hume’s Methods and Objectives for the Science of Commerce.
Margaret Schabas, Philosophy, University of British Columbia visiting
February 24: David Hartley's Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations: Chapter 1, Section 2 (pp. 56–84).
March 24: Géraud de Cordemoy: Six Discourses on the Distinction between the Body and the Soul and Treatises on Metaphysics translated by Steven Nadler. pp. 93–142.
Steven Nadler
, Philosophy, University of Wisconsin visiting
March 31: Miller, D. work in progress. "Making Observation Evidence: Regressus, Galileo, and the Moon";
Optional background reading: Selections from On Methods, Volume 2 (Books III-IV), On Regressus by Jacopo Zabarella. David Miller, Philosophy, Iowa State University visiting
April 21: John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Book II, Chapter 27: "Of Identity and Diversity". Kathryn Tabb, Philosophy, Columbia University visiting
May 5: David Hartley's Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations: Chapter 1, Section 3 (pp. 85–114). 

Fall 2016

The focus of EMIG this semester will be Galileo and we will have many opportunities to engage with visiting Galileo scholars (see schedule for details). In addition to readings chosen for the days when we have visitors, selections from The Essential Galileo (https://www.hackettpublishing.com/the-essential-galileo) will anchor our other meetings.

September 16: Galileo's Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, pp. 109–145 in The Essential Galileo. Eileen Reeves visitingSeptember 30: Selections from the Letter on Sunspots, pp. 97-102 in The Essential Galileo. Selections from the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, pp. 190-92, 201-213, 233-271 in The Essential Galileo.
October 7: "Letter to Castelli”, pp. 103–109 in The Essential Galileo; "Letter to Foscarini”, pp. 146–148 in The Essential Galileo; Foscarini, “Letter … Concerning the Mobility of the Earth” (pp. 217–237 only); Roman Inquisition's censure of the "Letter to Castelli" & Bellarmine's "Affidavit to Galileo”Stefania Tutino  visiting
October 14: Selections from Discourse on Bodies in Water in The Essential Galileo, pp. 85-96; selections from Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences in The Essential Galileo, pp. 295–367.
October 28: Selections from Sidereus Nuncius in the Essential Galileo (pp. 45–84; focus on pp. 45–69 and pp. 83–84)Nick Wilding visiting
November 18: Ingoli's 1616 Letter to Galileo; Galileo's 1624 Reply to Ingoli; Graney, C. 2015. Setting Aside All Authority: Giovanni Battista Riccioli and the Science against Copernicus in the Age of Galileo. University of Notre Dame Press. Chapters 3–4 (focus on pp. 25–53 and 63–76) Christopher Graney visiting
December 9: Selections from Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences in The Essential Galileo, pp. 295–367.

Spring 2016

The Early Modern Interest Group (EMIG) will be reading selections from Condillac's Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge (2001) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/philosophy/philosophy-texts/condillac-essay-origin-human-knowledge) this semester. Please order a copy of the book (or bring along one you already have) if you plan to join us.

February 5: Condillac's Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge Sections 1–2 (pp. 3–40); Optional: Editor's Introduction (pp. xi–xxxviii)
February 19: Condillac's Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge Sections 2–4 (pp. 41–77)
March 4: Condillac's Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge Sections 4–6 (pp. 78–110)
April 1: Humphry Davy​,​ Researches Chemical and Philosophical, Chiefly Concerning Nitrous Oxide (1800), pp 453–532.
Jan Golinski will be visiting.
April 15: Rothman, Aviva (draft manuscript) "“The Christian Resolution of the Calendar”: Kepler as Impartial Mathematician."
Aviva Rothman will be visiting.
April 29: Condillac's Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge, Language and Method, Section 1: 1–7 (pp. 113–139)

Fall 2015

This semester, we will focus on Giordano Bruno: Cause, Principle and Unity; And Essays on Magic, editied by R.J. Blackwell and R. de Lucca, part of the Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy . ISBN: 9780521596589.
September 18: Mary Domski (University of New Mexico) will be visiting.
Domski, M. 2012. Newton and Proclus: Geometry, Imagination, and Knowing Space. The Southern Journal of Philosophy 50: 389–413.
October 2: Giordano Bruno: Cause, Principle and Unity; And Essays on Magic Epistolary, 1st and 2nd dialogue pp. 3–50, Optional: Introduction pp. vii–xxix.
October 16: Giordano Bruno: Cause, Principle and Unity; And Essays on Magic 3rd, 4th, and 5th dialogues pp. 50–101.
October 30: Giordano Bruno: Cause, Principle and Unity; And Essays on Magic On Magic pp. 105–142.
November 13: Giordano Bruno: Cause, Principle and Unity; And Essays on Magic Account of Bonding pp. 145–176.
December 4: Peter Distelzweig, University of St Thomas, will be visiting.
Distelzweig, P. in press. “Mechanics” and Mechanism in William Harvey’s Anatomy: Varieties and Limits. In: P. Distelzweig et al. (eds.), Early Modern Medicine and Natural Philosophy. New York: Springer.

Spring 2015

This semester we will focus on Johannes Kepler's natural philosophy through two books:
- The Six-Cornered Snowflake (http://www.pauldrybooks.com)
- A Defence of Tycho against Ursus (http://www.cambridge.org/US/ )

January 23: A Defence of Tycho against Ursus: introduction and chapters 1–4, pp. 1–79. Note: this is background and commentary so read as much as desired for orientation.
February 6: A Defence of Tycho against Ursus: chapter 5, chapters 1–2 of the Apologia, pp. 134–185
February 20: A Defence of Tycho against Ursus: chapter 5 (remainder) and 6, chapters 3–4 of the Apologia, and Jardine's essay "Against the Sceptics," pp. 185–224
March 6: A Defence of Tycho against Ursus: chapters 7–9, pp. 225–294 (includes "Significance of the Apologia," by Nick Jardine)
March 20: No meeting Spring Break
April 3: The Six-Cornered Snowflake, pp. 3–75
April 17: Marius Stan (Boston College) visiting. We will read his manuscript entitled "Huygens on inertial structure and relativity."
An optional background reading for reference in our discussion is his translation of Christiaan Huygens’s "Fragments on absolute and relative motion."
May 1: The Six-Cornered Snowflake, pp. 75–134
Optional background readings:
van der Schoot, A. 2001. Kepler’s search for form and proportion. Renaissance Studies 15(1): 59-78.
Schneer, C. 1960. Kepler's New Year's gift of a snowflake. Isis 51(4): 531-545.

Fall 2014

We will focus on aspects of Nicolas Malebranche's natural philosophy this semester.
September 5: Nicolas Malebranche: The Search after Truth, edited by T.M. Lennon ans P.J. Olscamp (1997) Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Preface (pp xxxiii-xliii), Foreword (pp xlv-xlvi), Chapters 1-4 (pp 1-18).
*Optional further reading: Introduction (pp vii-xxiii) (pdf)
September 19: Karen Detlefsen (University of Pennsylvania) will be visiting.
Dialogue X, from Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion, pp. 170–192
Book 6: Part 2, Chapter 7 of Search After Truth pp. 488–497.
Andrew Pyle, “Malebranche on Animal Generation: Pre-existence and the Microscope.” In The Problem of Animal Generation in Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Justin Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 194–214.
October 3: Nicolas Malebranche: The Search after Truth, edited by T.M. Lennon ans P.J. Olscamp (1997) Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Book 1, Chapters 6–10 (pp. 25–53) (pdf), Book 2, Part 1, Chapters 1–4 (pp. 87–100)
October 17: Nicolas Malebranche: The Search after Truth, edited by T.M. Lennon ans P.J. Olscamp (1997) Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Book 2, Part 1, Chapters 5–8 (pp. 101–129), Book 2, Part 2, Chapters 1–2 (pp. 130–136)
October 31: Nicolas Malebranche: The Search after Truth, edited by T.M. Lennon and P.J. Olscamp (1997) Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Book 3, Part 2, Chapters 6–10 (pp. 230–257).
November 21: Nicolas Malebranche: The Search after Truth, edited by T.M. Lennon and P.J. Olscamp (1997) Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Elucidations of the Search after Truth. Elucidation 15 (pp. 657–685).
December 5: "The Malebranchian Moment in France and the Cultural Origins of Analytical Mechanics," draft book manuscript chapter by JB Shank (History)

Spring 2014

January 31: Francis Bacon's The New Organon (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition) Book 2, Aphorisms XXXVII–XLVIII (pp. 168–207)
February 7: Francis Bacon's The New Organon (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition) Book 2, Aphorisms XLIX–LII (pp. 207–221) and "Preparation for a Natural and Experimental History"/"Catalog of Particular Histories by Title" (pp. 222–238)
February 28: Eric Schliesser, Ghent University, Department of Philosophy & Moral Science, will be visiting.
Reading: Schliesser, E. (2013). On Reading Newton as an Epicurean: Kant, Spinozism and the Changes to the Principia. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44(3):416-428.
March 21: Spring Break No meeting
March 28: Descartes, The Passions of the Soul, Hackett edition Preface/Part 1 (pp. 1–49)
April 11: Descartes, The Passions of the Soul, Hackett edition Part 2 (pp. 50–101)
April 25: Descartes, The Passions of the Soul, Hackett edition Part 3 (pp. 102–135)
May 9: Descartes-Princess Elisabeth Correspondence (selected); Ofer Gal and Raz Chen-Morris, Baroque Science (Chicago UP, 2013), ch. 7 ("Passions, Imagination, and the Persona of the New Savant")

Fall 2013

EMIG will be reading selections from Francis Bacon's The New Organon this fall (Cambridge History of Philosophy edition).
September 13, 2013 Francis Bacon's The New Organon (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition) pp. 2–31: The Great Renewal, Preface, The Plan of the Work, The New Organon (Preface) Optional: pp. vii–xxviii (Introduction).
September 27, 2013 Francis Bacon's The New Organon (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition) Book I, Aphorisms I–LXXXI (pp. 33–66)
October 11, 2013 Francis Bacon's The New Organon (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition) Book I, Aphorisms LXXXII–CXXX (pp. 66–101)
October 25, 2013 Francis Bacon's The New Organon (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition) Book 2, Aphorisms I–XX (pp. 102–135)
November 15, 2013 We will be taking EMIG "on the road."
Ofer Gal (University of Sydney), co-author of the new book Baroque Science (Chicago UP, 2013; http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/ books/book/chicago/B/ bo14365153.html) will be visiting that day. He will be doing a workshop discussion with the Center for Early Modern History from 12–2pm (based on pre-circulated readings) and then a Friday colloquium talk at 3:35pm in 131 Tate laboratory of Physics. Instead of our normal 1:30-3pm meeting, all EMIG participants are encouraged to attend the workshop discussion at the Center for Early Modern History (as well as the colloquium talk in the afternoon) (.zip)
December 6, 2013 Francis Bacon's The New Organon (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition) Book 2, Aphorisms XXI–XXXVI (pp. 135–168)

Fall 2013

EMIG will be reading selections from Francis Bacon's The New Organon this fall (Cambridge History of Philosophy edition).
September 13: The Great Renewal, Preface, The Plan of the Work, The New Organon (Preface) (pp. 2–31). Optional: pp. vii–xxviii (Introduction)
September 27: Book I, Aphorisms I–LXXXI (pp. 33–66)
October 11: Book I, Aphorisms LXXXII–CXXX (pp. 66–101)
October 25: Book 2, Aphorisms I–XX (pp. 102–135)
November 15: We will be taking EMIG "on the road."
Ofer Gal (University of Sydney), co-author of the new book Baroque Science (Chicago UP, 2013; http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/ books/book/chicago/B/ bo14365153.html) will be visiting that day. He will be doing a workshop discussion with the Center for Early Modern History from 12–2pm (based on pre-circulated readings) and then a Friday colloquium talk at 3:35pm in 131 Tate laboratory of Physics. Instead of our normal 1:30–3pm meeting, all EMIG participants are encouraged to attend the workshop discussion at the Center for Early Modern History (as well as the colloquium talk in the afternoon)
December 6: Book 2, Aphorisms XXI–XXXVI (pp. 135–168)

Spring 2013

This semester EMIG will be reading and discussing
Spinoza's The Principles of Descartes' Philosophy.
The Spinoza edition we will use is from Hackett (translator: Samuel Shirley).
http://www.hackettpublishing.com/philosophy/principles-of- cartesian-philosophy
February 1: Introduction and Preface
February 15: Part 1
March 1: Part 1 continued
March 29: Part 2
April 12: Part 2 continued
April 26: Part 3 and "Appendix Containing Metaphysical Thoughts" (Part 1 only)
Optional reading: Gabbey, A.. (1996) "Spinoza's Natural Science and Methodology" in The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza, ed Garrett, D., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp 142–191.

Fall 2012

October 12: "Chemistry." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Lauren Yoder. Ann Arbor: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library, 2004 (http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.069). Originally published as "Chymie," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 3: 408–421 (Paris, 1753).
October 19: (from A Source Book in Chemistry, 1400–1900, edited by H.M. Leicester and H.S. Klickstein, Harvard University Press)
- Boerhaave on alchemy and narrating the origins of chemistry (1753)
- Geoffroy on the first affinity table (1718)
- Black on magnesia alba, the discovery that an "air" or gas can combine and get "fixed" (1756)
- Bergman on elective attractions (1775)
November 2: (from A Source Book in Chemistry, 1400–1900, edited by H.M. Leicester and H.S. Klickstein, Harvard University Press)
- Stahl on the first formulations of phlogiston theory (1697)
- Scheele on the discovery of oxygen (1777)
- Priestley on airs, oxygen, and the atmosphere (1774–77)
- Ingenhousz on the discovery of photosynthesis (1779)
Also, the entry on "phlogiston" from P-J. Macquer's Dictionary of Chemistry (1766) (available on Googlebooks)
November 9: (from A Source Book in Chemistry, 1400–1900, edited by H.M. Leicester and H.S. Klickstein, Harvard University Press)
- Cavendish on airs, phlogiston, pneumatic experimental method (1766–1784)
- Lavoisier on combustion, oxygen, respiration, weight conservation, and language reform together with de Morveau (1774–1789)


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions the group will take two weeks during the semester to explore how Kuhn’s ideas apply to different eras and areas of interest to the Early Modern Interest Group.
November 30: Kuhnfest event "The Chemical Revolution"
Evan M. Melhado, 1985. "Chemistry, Physics, and the Chemical Revolution" Isis, 76:195–211
Arthur Donovan, 1988. "Lavoisier and the Origins of Modern Chemistry," in The Chemical Revolution: Essays in Reinterpretation, ed. Donovan, Osiris, 2nd ser., 4:214-231
RESPONSES: In Isis: Vol. 81, No. 2, Jun., 1990
C. E. Perrin, Chemistry as Peer of Physics: A Response to Donovan and Melhado on Lavoisier (pp. 259–270)
Arthur Donovan, Lavoisier as Chemist and Experimental Physicist: A Reply to Perrin (pp. 270–272) (
Evan M. Melhado, On the Historiography of Science: A Reply to Perrin (pp. 273–-276)
December 7: Kuhnfest event "The Chemical Revolution"
Lawrence F. Holmes, 2000. The "Revolution in chemistry and physics." Overthrow of a reigning paradigm or competition between contemporary research programs? Isis, 91: 735–53.
Lissa Roberts, 1993. Filling the Space of Possibilities: Eighteenth-Century Chemistry's Transition from Art to Science, Science in Context, 6: 511–553.

Spring 2012

January 27: Selected works of Pierre Gassendi. The Syntagma Part II pp 380–434.
Optional reading: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/gassendi/
February 10: Physiologia The Second Book. Chapters 1–4
Optional reading: Introduction pp. xiii–xxv
March 2: Physiologia The Third Book. Chapters I, pp. 127–135, IX, pp. 248–260, X, pp. 261–268, XIII, pp. 316–324, XIV, pp. 325–340
March 30: Thomas Hobbes de Corpore 1655. Part II (chapters 7, 8, pp 91–119), Part IV (chapters 25, 26(part), pp 387–419).
April 13: Continued discussion of Thomas Hobbes de Corpore 1655. Part II (chapters 7, 8, pp 91–119), Part IV (chapters 25, 26(part), pp 387–419).

Fall 2011

September 16: Daniel Garber (Princeton University) will attend the meeting
Garber, Daniel, "De Ortu et Antiquissimis Fontibus Protogaeae Leibnizianae Dissertatio: Observation, Exploration, and Natural Philosophy"
Garber, D. 2005 “What’s Philosophical about the History of Philosophy?” in Analytic Philosophy and History of Philosophy, eds Sorrel, T, and Rogers, G. A, Oxford: Clarendon Press pp 129–146.
September 30: Cavendish, Margaret "Observations upon Experimental Philosophy" edited by Eileen O'Neill, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp 46–73.
October 14: Cavendish, Margaret "Observations upon Experimental Philosophy" edited by Eileen O'Neill, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp 74–87.
October 28: Cavendish, Margaret "Observations upon Experimental Philosophy" edited by Eileen O'Neill, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 88–100. We we also turn back and focus on Sections VII–XVI (pp. 57–73), which were not treated fully in previous sessions.
November 11: Cavendish, Margaret "Observations upon Experimental Philosophy" edited by Eileen O'Neill, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 101–124 (Sections XXVI–XXIX).
December 9: Cavendish, Margaret "Observations upon Experimental Philosophy" edited by Eileen O'Neill, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 125–131 (Part I. Section XXXI), pp. 149–154 (Part I. Section XXXVI), pp. 195–209 (Part II. Section I-VII), and pp. 224–248 (Part II. Section XVI-XXVI).
Please email mcps@umn.edu if you do not have access to the reading.

Spring 2011

Protogaea, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Translated and edited by Claudine Cohen and Andre Wakefield, University of Chicago Press, 2008.

January 28: Organizational Meeting
February 3: Protogaea, I­–IX (pp. 2–29)
February 17: Protogaea, I­–IX (pp. 2–29); Introduction (pp. xiii–xxiv)
March 3: Protogaea, X-XX (pp. 31–53); Introduction (pp. xxv–xxx)
March 10: Protogaea, X-XX (pp. 31–53); Introduction (pp. xxv–xxx)
March 24: Protogaea, XXI-XXIX (pp. 55–77)
April 7: Protogaea, XXX-XXXVII (pp. 77–115)
April 28: Protogaea, Introduction (pp. xxx–xlii), XXXVIII-XLVIII (pp. 115–141), Appendix (pp. 144–148); discuss Fall 2011 plans

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