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Date: 2020-11-16

【Guest Lectures】

Topic: Reduction and Foundationalism in Early Modern Mechanical Philosophy 

Speaker: Dr. Tzuchien Tho (Lecturer, Department of Philosophy University of Bristol) 

Host: Dr. Ku-ming Chang (Associate Research Fellow/Professor, IHP, Academia Sinica) 

Date: Thur, November 26, 2020, p.m. 16:30-18:30 

Location: 702Room, Research Building, IHP, Academia Sinica  

Abstract: 

Historians of early modern philosophy and science often treat the trends of foundationalism and reductionism as similar if not identical. Yet while reduction, exemplified by the pre-Socratic natural philosophers, is ancient and quasi-ubiquitous, foundationalism, exemplified by Cartesianism, is a modern phenomenon. Further, while reductionism was a strategy of explanation, foundationalism was a method of knowledge. 

In this presentation, I address the unique confluence of reductionism and foundationalism in the mechanical philosophy of the Early Modern period. The result of this confluence of a mode of explanation with a method of knowledge is that only reduction to mechanical principles constitutes well-founded knowledge. However, some thinkers within the tradition also sought to undo the restrictive implications of this confluence without rejecting the fruits of the mechanistic program.

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