The masculine birth of time: temporal frameworks of early modern natural philosophy

Iliffe, Robert (2000) The masculine birth of time: temporal frameworks of early modern natural philosophy. British Journal for the History of Science, 33 (199). pp. 427-453. ISSN 0007-0874

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Abstract

This paper sets out to examine the various temporal frameworks that made up the discourse of early modern natural philosophy. It takes into account a range of views and debates such as the comparison between the achievements of ancients and moderns, belief in the gradual decay of the earth and/or the cyclical nature of time, appreciation of recent improvements in the material conditions of life (especially technology), and projections of future techno-scientific progress, adherence to the doctrine of the prisca sapientia, and Judaeo-Christian notions of apocalypse and future redemption. This analysis also embraces, as a matter of course, changes in the ways natural philosophers both appealed to and reconstituted authorities. I look at Francis Bacon's treatment of time, and at the various sources of his accounts of scientific modernity. I conclude by considering the situation in late seventeenth-century England, when conservative critics of the 'new' philosophy - and the Royal Society in particular - charged that the uprooting of natural knowledge from its traditional institutional contexts would pervert the purpose of philosophical knowledge. In turn, supporters of the new philosophy, having defensively compiled lists of modern inventions and scientific discoveries, were to recast the advent of scientific modernity as starting properly with the publication of the Puincipa Mathematica in 1687.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Part 4.
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Depositing User: Robert Iliffe
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:21
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2012 09:57
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25580
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