Modelling the history of early modern natural philosophy: the fate of the art-nature distinction in the Dutch universities

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The ‘model approach’ facilitates a quantitative-oriented study of conceptual changes in large corpora. This paper implements the ‘model approach’ to investigate the erosion of the traditional art-nature distinction in early modern natural philosophy. I argue that a condition for this transformation has to be located in the late scholastic conception of final causation. I design a conceptual model to capture the art-nature distinction and formulate a working hypothesis about its early modern fate. I test my hypothesis on a selected corpus of 25 works published in the Dutch academic milieu between 1607 and 1748. I analyse the corpus through a procedure based on concordancing of keywords associated with the model. I argue that the results obtained constitute a successful pilot study for the implementation of the model approach on larger scale research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46–74
Number of pages29
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Philosophy
Issue number1
Early online date11-Oct-2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019



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