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BOOK REVIEWS 103 intellectual revolution most likely lies imbedded in the complex scientific and philosophical dialectic of the 1610s and 1620s. While focusing on Galileo, Shea has given us a glimpse of that dialectic, but only enough of a glimpse to arouse our curiosity. One hopes he will probe further in future works. MICHAELS. MAHONEY Princeton University Cartesio in lnghilterra. Da More a Boyle. By Arrigo Pacchi. Biblioteca di cultura moderna. (Roma e Bari: Editori Laterza, 1973. Pp. xv + 272) In one sense, the subtitle of Arrigo Pacchi's book is an adequate description of the contents. Da More a Boyle (From More to Boyle) suggests what is in fact the case, that Pacchi pursues a more or less chronological discussion from More's enthusiastic welcome of Descartes as an ally in the campaign to establish a rational theology to Boyle's rejection of Cartesian rationalism in favor of an empirical experimentalism which Pacchi treats as the stance of English science at the end of the seventeenth century. The book is not merely an account of a number of philosophers arranged in chronological order, however, and its real themes are either only hinted at in the title and subtitle or left unstated. The reference to More suggests the Cambridge Platonists. On one level Pacchi's book is a history of the Cambridge Platonists in which their stance vis-A-vis Descartes is employed as an instrument to interpret the fundamental issues of their position as it developed during half a century. In fact the book goes far beyond the Cambridge Platonists, for they are treated as the characteristic expression of English thought and culture during the second half of the seventeenth century. By implication, Pacchi presents an interpretation of the development of English culture during a crucial half century as it confronted the appearance of modern rationalism--not merely rationalism in its established philosophic meaning , but the reassessment of the capacity of human reason--and the rise of modern science. From whatever angle it is viewed, Pacchi's book is an important one. Based on a thorough study of his sources and couched in terms of a penetrating and sophisticated analysis, it is a serious work by a serious scholar. Even where one disagrees with Pacchi, as I do on a number of points that I take to be important, he will find, I believe, that he cannot dismiss Pacchi out of hand but must take him seriously. To our good fortune, we are still letting flowers blossom in their hundreds and thousands; disagreement on one level is agreement on another that important issues cannot be settled neatly to everyone's satisfaction . So be it. In Pacchi's book we have a major contribution to the ongoing discussion of the reorientation of western civilization in the seventeenth century. In my opinion the book succeeds most in its overt role of history of philosophy. Three major figures receive the most attention--More, Cudworth, and Boyle---and to all three he devotes insightful examinations. Since I know very little about most of the lesser figures who are also discussed, my estimate of the book is based almost entirely on its treatment of the three central figures. In the case of More, Pacchi draws on his later works--the Enchiridion metaphysicum, and scholia added to the Opera omnia--to enrich the existing literature which concentrates on More's early writings and tends to confine itself to noting his final rejection of Descartes. Pacchi goes beyond the nullubist catchword, which everyone cites, to detail More's rejection of Descartes' mechanical philosophy of nature. In the case of Boyle, Pacchi's discussion sets him not in the context of chemistry and science, but in the context of seventeenth century philosophy. He presents a more systematic exposition of Boyle's philosophy of science than I have seen elsewhere. As it happens, I disagree with the emphases of the discussion. Taking Boyle's expressed distrust of systems and distaste for metaphysics at their face value, Pacchi underestimates the extent of Boyle's commit- 104 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY ment to the mechanical philosophy of nature. Whatever Boyle may have said about metaphysics , The Skeptical Chymist was a book...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 103-104
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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