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TRRC, Stephen Clucas, “The Calculations of Hobbes’s Natural Philosophy”

April 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

A lecture sponsored by the Toronto Renaissance and Reformation Colloquium (TRRC) and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS).

Tea at 4:00, talk at 4:15.

In the definitive statement of his natural philosophy, De corpore (1655), Thomas Hobbes declared that reasoning was identical with computation, that is “to collect the sum of many things that are added together, or to know what remains when one thing is taken out of another” (De corpore, I.2). This lecture considers the role of “computation” or logic in Hobbes’s De corpore — in particular its foundational character. Hobbes’s logic was an attempt to discredit and circumvent what he saw as the verbal abuses of contemporary philosophies (such as that of Thomas White) which sought to import metaphysical or religious ideas into their accounts of natural phenomena. His statements about logic in the De corpore contrast with the fundamentally different attitudes towards logic to be found in the Institutio Logicae of his contemporary (and opponent) John Wallis, reflecting the very different milieux in which the two men were working.

Stephen Clucas is the author of Magic, Memory and Natural Philosophy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century (Ashgate: Farnham, 2011), and Logic and the Art of Memory. The Quest for a Universal Language, a translation of Paolo Rossi’s, Clavis Universalis: Arti della memoria e logica combinatoria da Lullo a Leibniz (2000, and paperback 2006). He is editor of John Dee: Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance Thought, International Archives of the History of Ideas, Archives internationales d’histoire des idées, 193 (2006), and A Princely Brave Woman: Essays on Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (2003). With Peter J. Forshaw and Valery Rees he edited the collection Laus Platonici Philosophi: Marsilio Ficino and his Influence (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming), with Rosalind Davies The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives (2003), and with Gordon R. Batho, The Wizard Earl’s Advices to his Son. A facsimile and transcript from the manuscripts of Henry Percy, ninth Earl of
Northumberland at Petworth House
(Otley: Smith Settle for The Roxburghe Club, 2002).



April 17, 2012
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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