Between Atoms and Forms: Natural Philosophy and Metaphysics in Kenelm Digby

Han Adriaenssen, Sander de Boer

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Kenelm Digby is now best remembered for his attempt at reconciling Aristotelianism with the new philosophies of his time. In his Two Treatises of 1644, Digby argued that, while the notion of form has no place in natural philosophy, it remains indispensable in metaphysics. This division of labor has not received much attention, but we argue that it played an important role in Digby's thought. The notion of form is central to his account of bodily identity over time, but by removing it from the domain of natural philosophy, he avoids some of the standard criticism of forms in authors like Descartes. In the final part of this paper, we turn to Digby's friend and follower, John Sergeant. We argue that, in Sergeant, we get an answer to the question of how the atomic parts out of which a body is built up relate to its form, which had remained open in Digby.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-80
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of the History of Philosophy
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2019

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