The Body as Object and Instrument of Knowledge. Embodied Empiricism in Early Modern Science

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These essays originated at a conference organized by the unit for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney, in 2009 and focus on one of three themes: the body as an object of inquiry, the body as an instrument of empirical knowledge, and what the editors call "embodied cognition," or consideration of the mind as a part of the body. – It was in 1660s England, according to the received view, in the Royal Society of London, that science acquired the form of empirical enquiry we recognize as our own: an open, collaborative experimental practice, mediated by specially-designed instruments, supported by civil discourse, stressing accuracy and replicability. Guided by the philosophy of Francis Bacon, by Protestant ideas of this worldly benevolence, by gentlemanly codes of decorum and by a dominant interest in mechanics and the mechanical structure of the universe, the members of the Royal Society created a novel experimental practice that superseded former modes of empirical inquiry, from Aristotelian observations to alchemical experimentation. – This volume focuses on the development of empiricism as an interest in the body – as both the object of research and the subject of experience. Re-embodying empiricism shifts the focus of interest to the ‘life sciences’; medicine, physiology, natural history. In fact, many of the active members of the Royal Society were physicians, and a significant number of those, disciples of William Harvey and through him, inheritors of the empirical anatomy practices developed in Padua during the 16th century. Indeed, the primary research interests of the early Royal Society were concentrated on the body, human and animal, and its functions much more than on mechanics. Similarly, the Académie des Sciences directly contradicted its self-imposed mandate to investigate Nature in mechanistic fashion, devoting a significant portion of its Mémoires to questions concerning life, reproduction and monsters, consulting empirical botanists, apothecaries and chemists, and keeping closer to experience than to the Cartesian standards of well-founded knowledge. – Contents : I. The body as object of inquiry (continues and in some cases extends historical work from the past two decades that has inserted the sciences of life into the narrative of early modern science); – II. The body as instrument (includes five essays which define "instrument" in a variety of ways); – III. Embodied minds (both more unified and more philosophical than the previous sections). M.-M. V.


Victories for Empiricism, Failures for Theory: Medicine and Science in the Seventeenth Century

COOK Harold J.

pages 9 à 32

Practical Experience in Anatomy


pages 33 à 57

Early Modern Empiricism and the Discourse of the Senses


pages 59 à 74

Alkahest and Fire: Debating Matter, Chymistry, and Natural History at the Early Parisian Academy of Sciences


pages 75 à 92

John Locke and Helmontian Medicine


pages 93 à 117

Empiricism Without the Senses: How the Instrument Replaced the Eye


pages 121 à 147

Mastering the Appetites of Matter. Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum


pages 149 à 167

‘A Corporall Philosophy’: Language and ‘Body-Making’ in the Work of John Bulwer (1606–1656)

SMITH Justin E. H.

pages 169 à 183

Memory and Empirical Information: Samuel Hartlib, John Beale and Robert Boyle

YEO Richard R.

pages 185 à 210

Lamarck on Feelings: From Worms to Humans


pages 211 à 239

Carelessness and Inattention: Mind-Wandering and the Physiology of Fantasy from Locke to Hume


pages 243 à 263

Instrumental or Immersed Experience: Pleasure, Pain and Object Perception in Locke


pages 265 à 285

Empiricism and Its Roots in the Ancient Medical Tradition


pages 287 à 308

Embodied Stimuli: Bonnet’s Statue of a Sensitive Agent


pages 309 à 331

Empiricist Heresies in Early Modern Medical Thought

WOLFE Charles T.

pages 333 à 344