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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  


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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