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124 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 24:1 JANUARY 1981 Charles B. Schmitt, John Case and Aristotelianism in Renaissance England. McGil] Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas, Vol. 5. Kingston and Montreal: McGil] Queen's University Press, 1983. Pp. xvi + 3o3. $35.oo. Charles Schmitt's study of the English Aristotelian philosopher John Case (c. a54616oo ) has wide-ranging ramifications and more generally invites some fundament2 reassessments in the history of ideas. Despite an international reputation in his own lifetime, Case has been a largel neglected figure since his death in 16oo. His personal life was not the stuff of whicl legends are made. He spent virtually his whole life in Oxford, and, apart from hi early renunciation of a St. John's fellowship in order to marry and his rather touch ing concern for certain possessions as revealed in his will (reproduced in an appen dix), he comes over as a somewhat colorless figure, full of "sound common-sens, moderation" (129). Intellectually, he proved as an Aristotelian to be (in the prevailinl historiographical tradition) on the "losing" side. Admittedly, his very moderatiol enabled him to be eclectic and to embrace many contemporary influences. Thougl claiming Aristotle as "the only philosopher," his intellectual framework was suffi ciently flexible to incorporate the work of previously neglected mediaeval commenta tors as well as that of modern humanist interpreters, and even that of mystics ant natural magicians. But his historical crime remained--that he was a belated exponen of Aristotelianism. It is this word "Aristotelianism" that no reader of Dr. Schmitt's book will glibly use again. The crudest interpretation of Western intellectual development has seen Aristo telianism, after its unification with Christianity, persisting until its confrontation wit[ the "new science." According to this model, some traditionalists and conservative~ continued, right into the seventeenth century, to man the Peripatetic barricades, hu~ they were finally reduced to surrender (and to deserved historical oblivion) by th~ progressive forces of modernity, culminating in the replacement synthesis of Newton This facile categorization of Aristotelian "Ancients" and anti-Aristotelian "Moderns"-encouraged , it must be said, by certain seventeenth century writers themselves--ha., been long discredited. But there is still some substance (though less now than in th~ 197os when this book was actually written) in Schmitt's charge that historians have toc often classified, and dismissed, "anything Aristotelian as 'illiberal' and uncongenial tc progressive and creative thought" (218). One of the main purposes--and effects--of this book is to rebut any such histori. cal formulation. Rather, Aristotelianism is to be viewed not as a monolithic structur~ long defying demolition, but as a flexible framework within which many new idea, were successively and sucessfully incorporated and which itself provided a base fol much creative work of the scientific revolution. It has long been accepted that many of the most "modern" scientists of th¢ seventeenth century, while often affecting to repudiate the influence of Aristotle nevertheless retained many Peripatetic influences in their thought. It is now becoming clearer that professing "Aristotelians" of the same period often contrived tc incorporate into their own traditional frameworks many aspects of the "new philoso. BOOK REVIEWS 12 5 phy." The recent research of John Henry, for example, has shown bow such midseventeenth century thinkers as Thomas White and Kenelm Digby, working within an essential!y Aristotelian tradition, formulated a theory of atomism which was of profound importance for the development of the "mechanical philosophy." Such research is already illuminating one aspect of the terrain indicated by Charles Schmitt as warranting further attention and is confirming the validity of his historical approach. The blurring of edges of individual ancients and moderns, progressives and reactionaries , has more general historical implications, noted by Schmitt himself. First, our neat periodizations come under threat, and it makes more senseNat least in intellectual and cultural history--to study the whole "period of Aristotelianism," from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries, as a unit. Second, the period 1575-164o takes on a new importance, as being the time of an English Aristotelian "renaissance," underpinning the scientific revolution. And, as a corollary, the historical scales are tilted away from the much-labored Puritan Revolution; the English intellectualrevolution was...