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Cartesian EmpiricismsDe Volder’s Cartesian Physics and Experimental Pedagogy

Cartesian Empiricisms: De Volder’s Cartesian Physics and Experimental Pedagogy [In 1675, Burchard de Volder (1643–1709) was the first professor to introduce the demonstration of experiment into a university physics course and built the Leiden Physics Theatre to accommodate this new pedagogy. When he requested the funds from the university to build the facility, he claimed that the performance of experiments would demonstrate the “truth and certainty” of the postulates of theoretical physics. Such a claim is interesting given de Volder’s lifelong commitment to Cartesian scientia. This chapter will examine de Volder’s views on experiment and show that they are not Newtonian or inductivist, as is sometimes claimed. While de Volder thinks we need deductive reasoning from first principles to provide evidence of the certainty of the content of our physical theories, he also contends that we need experiment to provide evidence of the certainty of the existence of the particular bodies those theories discuss. This approach to experiment is based on a distinction between rational certainty and the certainty of material bodies in the actual world. While this account is deeply influenced by Descartes, it is importantly different than Descartes’ distinction between absolute and moral certainty. De Volder’s “Cartesian Empiricism” is best understood as a continuation and further development of a long tradition of teaching through observation at Leiden.] http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png

Cartesian EmpiricismsDe Volder’s Cartesian Physics and Experimental Pedagogy

Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Book Series (volume 31)
Editors: Dobre, Mihnea; Nyden, Tammy
Cartesian Empiricisms — Oct 28, 2013

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References (51)

Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
ISBN
978-94-007-7689-0
Pages
227 –249
DOI
10.1007/978-94-007-7690-6_10
Publisher site
See Chapter on Publisher Site

Abstract

[In 1675, Burchard de Volder (1643–1709) was the first professor to introduce the demonstration of experiment into a university physics course and built the Leiden Physics Theatre to accommodate this new pedagogy. When he requested the funds from the university to build the facility, he claimed that the performance of experiments would demonstrate the “truth and certainty” of the postulates of theoretical physics. Such a claim is interesting given de Volder’s lifelong commitment to Cartesian scientia. This chapter will examine de Volder’s views on experiment and show that they are not Newtonian or inductivist, as is sometimes claimed. While de Volder thinks we need deductive reasoning from first principles to provide evidence of the certainty of the content of our physical theories, he also contends that we need experiment to provide evidence of the certainty of the existence of the particular bodies those theories discuss. This approach to experiment is based on a distinction between rational certainty and the certainty of material bodies in the actual world. While this account is deeply influenced by Descartes, it is importantly different than Descartes’ distinction between absolute and moral certainty. De Volder’s “Cartesian Empiricism” is best understood as a continuation and further development of a long tradition of teaching through observation at Leiden.]

Published: Oct 28, 2013

Keywords: Seventeenth Century; Scientific Equipment; Mathematical Deduction; Philosophy Faculty; Rational Certainty

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