Philosophy of Science

Les progrès scientifiques ont amené les philosophes à détourner leur attention de l’explication des phénomènes physiques,
abandonnée désormais à la science, pour la diriger vers le problème de l’être lui-même.
- Pierre Hadot, La voile d'Isis: Essai sur l'histoire de l'idée de Nature -


The Philosophy of Science is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of science, including the formal sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences. In this respect, the philosophy of science is closely related to epistemology (the study of knowledge) and the philosophy of language. Physics (Natural Philosophy) and Mathematics (Metaphysics) are both part of the Philosophy of Science. Physics in ancient philosophy was being used when the philosophical discussion was on the nature of motion and the Eternity of the Universe, while mathematics was being used when dealing with the concept of Infinity of the Universe. The discussion of eternity is also closely connected to the development of the concept of God in Western thought. A distinction was being made between timeless eternity which only God enjoyed (atemporality, outside of time), and the sempiternity (everlastingness, inside of time) which (according to Plato) the world itself possesses (see also Eternity and Sempiternity, M. Kneale, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society New Series, Vol. 69, (1968-1969), pp. 223-238 and God, Eternity and the Nature of Time, Alan Padgett, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000, p. 46).

Early history

From their beginnings in Sumer (now Iraq) around 3500 BCE, the Mesopotamian people began to attempt to record some observations of the world with extremely thorough numerical data. But their observations and measurements were seemingly taken for purposes other than for scientific laws. In Babylonian astronomy, the vigorous notings of the motions of the stars, planets, and the moon are left on thousands of clay tablets created by scribes. The Babylonian numeral system, base-60, was also the first positional numeration developed.

Africa is widely regarded as the cradle of humanity. It has a long tradition in science and technology, also outside Egypt. The Lebombo bone is the oldest known mathematical artifact and it dates from 35,000 BCE. The Ishango bone of Congo dates from the the Upper Paleolithic era (now estimated to be more than 20,000 years old) and is the oldest known numeral system.

Ancient Egypt made significant advances in astronomy, mathematics and medicine. Their development of geometry was a necessary outgrowth of surveying to preserve the layout and ownership of farmland, which was flooded annually by the Nile river. The 3-4-5 right triangle and other rules of thumb were used to build rectilinear structures, and the post and lintel architecture of Egypt. Hellenistic Egypt was also a center of alchemy research for much of the Mediterranean.

Ancient China is best known for the abacus and the Four Great Inventions: compass, gunpowder, papermaking, and printing.

The Indian subcontinent developed the concept of base 10 positional numeration, which became known as the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. Positional numeration greatly simplified arithmetic, leading to the rapid spread of the notation across the world.

The natives of the Americas developed a science different from Eurasian and African science, but much was lost after the invasion of the Europeans. The geology of Eurasia facilitated the East-West spread of scientific knowledge and gave it an advantage over Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

The scientific revolutions

In the history of science there are three so-called scientific revolutions. The first took place at about 400 BCE in Greece and it was based on mathematics and philosophy. The way of thought was 'more geometrico' and observation was deemed unreliable. Science was based on deductive reasoning. Those involved at this stage, were people like Thales of Miletus (ca. 620 BCE-ca. 546 BCE), Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 490 BCE), Plato (429-347 BCE), Aristotle (384-322 BCE), Euclid of Alexandria (fl. 300 BCE) and Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-ca.212 BC) (see also Science and Technology in World History, James E. McClellan III, Harold Dorn, JHU Press, 2008).

The second scientifc revolution started in the 17th century in Europe. Scientific reasoning turned towards experimental research and became inductive. The concept of infinity and force entered science. This way of Western scientific practice was called 'Faustian' thinking by Oswald Spengler (1880-1936 CE) (see also Der Untergang des Abendlandes: Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte, Oswald Spengler, C.H.Beck, 1998) The unreliability of observations should be compensated by the development of instruments to verify the validity of observations and which involved the development of mathematical functions. The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (5 juli 1687) of Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) would become the model for this new approach to science. Those involved in the revolution or paradigm shift, were Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-24 May 1543 CE), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662 CE), Robert Boyle (1627-1691 CE), Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE), Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827 CE), Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1743-1794 CE) and others (see also The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry, H. F. Cohen, University of Chicago Press, 1994).

The third scientific revolution started around 1900 and still continues, mainly in Europe and the USA. Scientific advance is now moving West and away from Europe. This revolution saw the decline of observational absolutes and the emergence of relativity. Main figures in this scientific revolution were Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882 CE), Max Planck (1858-1947 CE), Albert Einstein (1879-1955 CE), Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962 CE), Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976 CE), James Dewey Watson (1928- CE) and Francis Harry Compton Crick (1916-2004 CE) (see also The Realm of Science: Revolution in science: relativity, quantum, and nuclear physics, David Rosenberg, Touchstone Publishing Company, 1972 and The Social and Economic Roots of the Scientific Revolution, Gideon Freudenthal, Peter McLaughlin Springer Science & Business Media, 2009, p.25).

Science acts as a catalyst as it facilitates a (human) process. All scientific progress acts as an extender of human capacity and all progress made can be backpropagated to the human capability which it extends. The incorporation into a human process defines the speed and extent of progress. Human communication is being extended by writing, printing, telephone, TV, etc. Human mobility is enhanced by horseriding, bicycles, cars, trains, airplanes and rockets. Human vision is extended by glasses, binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, X-ray, etc. Human diseases are prevented by clean food supplies, clean drinking water, sewer systems and garbage collection as a way to interrupt the transmission of diseases and diseases themselves are being cured by a progress in medicine. Natural philosophy, science and technology pull dimensions and scales of space and time with reach of human capacity by redimensioning and rescaling them. The more science and technology evolve in an evolutionary process, the more human capabilites can be extended. The demand is orthogonal to the development of technology as a derivative of scientific progress and the resulting vector shows the actual effect of progress. The 'pull' in the process is the human demand, while the 'push' is the enabling or catalytic capacity of science and technology. Scientific progress is about mastering increasingly complex natural phenomena and bringing them within reach of human understanding and acting. The degree of catalysis is the reduction of effort to attain a certain goal, either facilitating (reducing time and resources) or enabling the way of reaching a goal. The economics of the alignment of human demand and scientific supply will determine the rate of implementation. Progress reduces the tension between goal or demand and the 'cost' to reach the outcome. As long as a need for enabling or extending is not or only partially met, there is still room for improvement and progress. Where and how this will end for any human process (communication, moving, recovering from a disease, ...) remains an open question and the nonlinear character of the human-science continuum makes predictions difficult if not impossible due to the dimensionality and scale of the system (see also Catastrophe Theory, A. Okninski, Elsevier, 1992, p. 1 and The Scientist as Philosopher: Philosophical Consequences of Great Scientific Discoveries, Friedel Weinert, Springer Science & Business Media, 2004, p. 213).



The Greeks developed philosophy as a way of understanding the world around them, without resorting to religion, myth, or magic. Early Greek philosophers were influenced by Babylonians and Egyptians. The mythical accounts of the creation of the universe, ex nihilo out of Chaos (nothing, void) or and Nyx (night) like in the Theogony of Hesiod (fl. between 750 and 650 BCE), was no longer accepted by the early Greek philosophers (see also Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, fragments 31:11 and 31:12). They rejected the purely speculative account of the origin of the Universe. The rise of matter, time and space out of "nothing", meant a beginning of the world and at the same time the beginning of time. In this interpretation the world does not arise in time, but together with time. The mythical account tried to found the coming into existence of the world without providing a sound foundation. Chaos and Night are undefined states, which are 'nothing' or negations of being. The myth does not give any "mechanism" of transition from "the state of nothingness" to "the state of existence" of the Universe. The mythical account of the origin of the world therefore does not provide any arguments to defend its position against its (philosophical) adversaries who postulate the eternity of the world. Poetry is no match for philosophy when using philosophical and logical arguments. For the Greek natural philosopher the moment of creation cannot be determined satisfactory by myths, for there is no premise which can counter the argument that the world could have come into existence earlier or later than the postulated mythical moment. The disucussion about the origin of the Universe is an antinomy and the question of the limits of time must be regarded as meaningless between natural philosophy which deals with phenomena and mythological systems which deal with noumena. Phenomenon is derived from 'phaino' and means bring to light, to place in brightness, to show itself in itself, the totality of what lies before us in the light of day (Heidegger, The Turning. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, 1977, p. 74). The disjunction or partiality of the overlap between concepts as the constituents of thoughts and reality intrinsically leads to antinomies in and between concept-driven descriptive or meaning-giving systems. These antinomies pop up at the juctions between physics, thought, the meaning of life and existence of the universe. The chosen solution or the answer given will differ depending on the sides taken in these discussions, which in themselves as true antinomies are without a final universaly accepted solution.


The question about the eternity of the world came into existence with the Pre-Socratic philosophers and the dawn of physics and natural philosophy. Thinking about the origin of the universe requires philosophical assumptions, both ontological and epistemological. The foundation of concepts and their link with physical reality required a different approach compared to the mythical account of the origin of the world. Concepts describe reality, but the question is if one can transfer concepts from one level of reality to another (physical to metaphysical). The Greeks in their natural philosophy rejected a fundamental dichotomy of concepts between physics and metaphysics. They developed their (immananent) philosophical concepts out of their understanding of the world and applied these on every physical and metaphysical situation.

A problem arises when certain concepts evade physical verification, such as the origin or cause of the world. The principle of causation was (is) an important aspect of philosophical speculation. Causality is the "how"-relationship (causal nexus) between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the second event is understood as a (logical) consequence of the first. We can distinguish between 'transeunt causation' which occurs when one event causes a second event (event-causation) and 'immanent causation' occurs when an agent causes an event (agent-causation) (see also Human Freedom and the Self by Roderick M. Chisholm). The way how a philosophical system deals with causation in its cosmology has important consequences for deciding between determinism (non-responsibility) or free-will (responsibility) (e.g. occasionalism). Inasmuch as the "how" causality is associated with the determinism of scientific laws, the "why" causality reaches beyond the mere scientific discourse. The Greeks wanted to know why the Universe was and why it was as it was.

The nature of causation is a core issue for natural philosophy, which can be regarded as the move from a myth-centered world to a world based on reliable cause and effect, in the end tested by experimental verification. The fundamental metaphysical question in this respect is "Why is there rather something than nothing?", which led philosophers to grapple with the basic philosophical problems such as the origin of the Universe. It assumes the sensibleness of the concept of "nothingness". The concept of nothingness itself and the assumption that nothingness is possible, is a philosophical concept and a philosophical assumption, which goes much beyond that which can be established by a physical understanding of reality as such. Reasoning from their physical concepts about time and the universe, the Pre-Socratic philosophers could not accept that something could come from nothing as this would require a dichotomy of laws and a complete separation of metaphysical from physical concepts. By reasoning out of the physical and geometrical properties of reality (chronogeometric properties or spacetime) as characteristics not of nothingness, but of the active (dynamic) space-time they recognized that "at the very beginning" there must be laws of nature which could not come into existence 'ex nihilo'. This reflects the general tendency of defining metaphysical concepts out of physical concepts and limiting their meaning to their physical boundaries. Concepts which are reflected in empirical reality become limited by the physical reality they represent. The physical approach rejects transcendental concepts which exist outside the limitations of the physical world (e.g. Titus Lucretius Carus (ca. 99-ca. 55 BCE) in De Rerum Natura: 'Principium cuius hinc nobis exordia sumet, nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus umquam.').

The way they asked about the origin of the world and the need to found its existence upon rational principles, implied the postulation of an (assumed) empirical reality which provided an unbroken chain of causation. The premises from which the question about the origin of the world was being asked, defined the answer. The empirical content of the concept of the universe itself (e.g. the observable universe) can only be given partialy or one gets into contradictions. Extrapolations of local physics onto the whole observable Universe cannot do without cosmological principles, which are basically of a philosophical character. Extrapolations of this kind conducted in cosmology are still insufficient to make their conclusion pertaining to the Universe, understood as the whole physical Universe. Eternity is either out (non-time) or in time (eternity as an attribute of time). Eternity can be defined as eternity 'sui generis', but also as an endless sequence of time with no beginning or end; it is either defined structural or functional. The functional understanding of eternity (eternal time) is different from eternity as such, but both concepts of eternity can be used depending on the argumentation one wants to follow. Time as a concept belongs to the existing world, while without a world there is no time. Time can be extended ad infinitum, which means that there is no single point or moment which puts a beginning or an end to time. Within time any given moment is both an end and a new beginning. A beginning in time which has no antecedent in an absolute understanding of time is impossible to conceive. A beginning of the world however is not a mere extrapolation of the physical concept of time, but requires a concept of beginning which transcends the origin of time. So when extrapolating the physical concept of time beyond its physical boundaries, overstretches the concept of physical time itself. The eternity of the world can be considered a necessary limitation of meaning in which the concepts of beginning and eternity are rigidly coupled to their meaning within physics. Another approach would be to postulate transcendent concepts outside the boundaries of physics, then start from the created framework and apply it to the encompassed physical realm. This way one can bypass the limitations of the physcial concepts and postulate a created world which is not eternal. This subtle playing around with words and concepts makes it rather difficult to understand and match the different positions with regard to the creation of the world and its eternity.

Universe according to Pythagoras
- The Universe according to Pythagoras -

The concepts the Pre-Socratic philosophers applied in their philosophy of nature were immanent principles thereby avoiding the problem of (mythological) non-causation. The Greeks concluded that the world had to be eternal and matter was not preceded by nothing or non-matter (void). An immanent 'first principle', 'materia prima' or 'prote hule' was postulated, from which the entire universe was derived. For the Pre-Socratic philosophers the eternal first principle itself was part of the physical world. The Pre-Socratic philosophers would develop several systems, based on one or more postulated eternal and immanent elements which avoided the coming into existence of the universe 'ex nihilo'. Thales of Miletus (ca. 624-ca. 546 BCE) created a model of the Universe in which Water plays the principal role. This element was both animate and material: it could be transformed subject to rules imposed by the movement of things, and was a source of life. Water as a first principle was immanent in all things. Anaximander (ca. 610-546 BCE) put forward the apeiron ("the boundless" or "the indefinite") as 'materia prima'. He rejected a determinate first principle (water) as the primordial element, because of the contradiction of using a determinate substance to give rise to other determinate substances. Anaximenes (d. 528 BCE) assigned the role of 'materia prima' or 'prote hule' to air and introduced a theory of qualitative change that involves impersonal mechanisms (rarefaction and condensation).

Parmenides of Elea (early 5th century BCE) postulated that everything is eternal and unchanging, one and undivided, perceived change is an illusion. Something cannot come from nothing and nothing can be: "For this shall never be proved, that the 'things that are not', 'are'; and do thou restrain thy thought from this way of inquiry" (Parmenides Diels-Kranz Fragment B7 and B8, ipsissima verba). Reasoning from a void or not-being is not valid or allowed. Parmenides in his poem On Nature built a rational cosmology, based on a noetic unity, from his philosophical principles, which contradicted the mythical cosmology. He removed empiricism from his philosophical framework in order to avoid the perceived contradictions between the noetic and phenomenal plane. His conceptual analysis and foundation of his philosophy, made him reject empiricism as a source of finding truth, such as empirical cosmology. For Parmenides the noetic concept of Being preceded of the phenomenon of Being and the essence preceded over the instance. Monoplanal metaphysical reasoning provided certainty, but with reduced physical validity. He bought metaphysical certainty by sacrifying logical tautology, and logical equivalence between metaphysics and physics. (see also The Cosmology of Parmenides, Aryeh Finkelberg, The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 107, No. 3 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 303-317 and Rational cosmology: or, The eternal principles and the necessary laws of the universe, Laurens P. Hickok, Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Library, 2005). For Parmenides the 'creatio ex nihilo' could not be upheld with rational arguments and therefore was to be considered mere 'communis opinio' (Doxa).

Heraclitus of Ephesus (ca. 535-ca. 475 BCE) believed in ever-present change (Panta rhei) in the universe and the unity of opposites. The position of everlasting change and everything including its opposite lead to the position that the world must be eternal: "This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was, is, and will be: an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out" (Heraclitus Diels-Kranz Fragment B30, ipsissima verba). Every beginning encloses its own end within itself, so an absolute beginning without its opposite already enclosed does not exist (ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι or Q.E.D.). Empedocles (ca. 495-435 BCE) in his work On Nature stated that everything is composed of four material elements ("roots"); these elements are moved by two opposing forces. The elements are fire, air, earth, and water; the forces which for Empedocles are at the basis of change are Love and Strife or Attraction (brings together) and Repulsion (divides). By postulating multiple primary substances Empedocles could more easily deal with change and diversity. Change was no longer an intrinsic part of the 'materia prima' itself, but was due to forces which were external to the 'materia prima'. By taking two forces, change in more than one direction was supported. For Empedocles the process of generation and corruption (change) exists of changing the composition of the four elements of a natural substance. Temporal change is supported by the constellation four eternal elements and two eternal opposing forces (see also Simplicius of Cilicia (ca. 490-ca. 560 CE), Physics, 31-34). The absolute/eternal and the relative/temporal are intertwined in Pre-Socratic philosophy, which could lead to the contradictory situation of self-causation. Therefore placing first principles outside of which is founded upon them, is safer as it avoids this problem. For most Pre-Socratic philosophers, their thought contents were in themselves part of cosmological reality, which would mainly change with the concepts of Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE). The concepts of Plato and Aristotle represented reality, but were no longer part of it, which provided them with more freedom to define their philosophical principles.

Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE) would depart from immanent first principles and postulate transcendent first principles in order to avoid the inherent contradictions of self-causation which one runs into when the first principle itself is part of the world. Both for Plato and Aristotle matter and the universe was eternal. Plato first stated the formal principle of causality: "everything that becomes or changes must do so owing to some cause; for nothing can come to be without a cause" (Timaeus 28a). Plato emphasized the causal importance of formal causes. Nothing can be unless there be a changeless pattern of formal causes of which the individual sensible phenomenon is a mere appearance. Aristotle in his Physics put forward several arguments for eternity of the world and against a creation 'ex nihilo' of the world, such as the argument from the nature of matter, argument from motion, and the argument from the vacuum. In his Topica, Aristotle presents the eternity of the world as a 'problema neutrum' or dialectical problem and therefore belonging to the class of problems that reason cannot solve as opposed to the De Caelo et Mundo (The Heavens) where he treats the same problem from a scientific point of view (see also Classical Christianity and the Political Order, Ernest L. Fortin, J. Brian Benestad, p. 170 and The Impact of Aristotelianism on Modern Philosophy, Ed. Riccardo Pozzo, p. 6). The answer to the question concerning the eternity of the world depends on the viewpoint and premises (first principles) from which the question is being asked in the first place. An attempt for a rational answer to the question therefore is considered a petitio principii (see also Medieval discussions of the eternity of the world, Richard C. Dales, 1990, p. 100).

In view of the constant change they saw in the world around them, Greek philosophers tried to find out if there is some substratum (physis, hence our word physics) that is constant? In Greece the earliest scientific explanation of the pre-Socratic philosophers can be divided into two groups: the materialists like Thales of Miletus (624-546 BCE) and the more mathematically oriented Pythagoras (ca.570-ca.495 BCE) and the Pythagoreans. The idealist approach of the Pythagoreans was in stark contrast to that of the materialists, among whom the atomists were most prominent. Atomism would define constancy originating from atoms, while Pythagoras would define mathematics and number as constant and eternal.

Pythagoras and his students had a religious belief in the power of mathematics as derived from geometry. Part of this belief was that rational numbers could handle any situation. The Pythagoreans believed that the universe could be understood in terms of whole numbers. Pythagoras is most famous for the "Pythagorean Theorem", which states that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides. The basic property of the "Pythagorean Theorem" is its scalaebility, both in size and dimensions (both Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein would make use of this property). Pythagoras believed that every conceivable quantity could be expressed as a ratio (ratio in Latin is reason) of two of the available infinity of whole numbers (rational numbers). However Hippasus of Metapontum (5th century BCE), one of Pythagoras's disciples supposedly pointed out to him that the diagonal of a square whose side was one unit (Isosceles Right Triangle) could not be expressed that way. The two whole numbers needed to give the diagonal as their ratio did not exist; it was true and could be proved. Instead, one had to use the square root of 2, which is in this sense irrational and never "comes out even". Euclid (fl. 300 BCE) in his Elements (Volume III) would prove in a "proof by contradiction" (reductio ad absurdum) that the problem of the square root of 2 cannot be solved within the realm of the rational numbers without putting a bomb under the basic notions of odd and even numbers. The solution of the problem leads to the contradiction that the solution is both an odd and even number. From the proof follows that √2 cannot be expressed as the ratio of two natural numbers, and must therefore be in another class of numbers. This of course meant that rational numbers could not handle any situation, which is a classical example of the limitations of scientific theories of reality in particular or philosophical theories in general. This basic problem can easily lead to obscurantism, because one can put forward the proposition that reality is infinitely complex and therefore any attempt to develop a (better) theory is futile. Another conclusion is that when science or philosophy discovers new facts or conceptts, which falsify a given theory, a paradigm shift is required (e.g. the discovery of irrational numbers). The Elements (Book X) of Euclid deals with irrational numbers. To go from the world of the rational numbers towards the world of the irrational numbers, one philosophically has to pass the Pillars of Hercules.

Heraclitus of Ephesus (ca. 535-475 BCE) developed a natural philosophy based on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in the famous saying, "No man ever steps in the same river twice". Heraclitus stated that things are constantly changing (universal flux), that opposites coincide (unity of opposites), and that fire is the basic material of the world. Parmenides of Elea (early 5th century BCE) left us one poem On Nature in which he put forward his views on nature and which was crucial for the broader development of Greek natural philosophy and metaphysics. Parmenides describes two views of reality. In "the way of truth" (a part of the poem), he explains how reality (coined as "what-is") is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, necessary, and unchanging. In "the way of opinion", he explains the world of appearances, in which one's sensory faculties lead to conceptions which are false and deceitful. His successors would develop different theories and reponses to Parmenides.

Leucippus (first half of 5th century BCE), and Democritus (ca. 460-ca. 370 BCE) as a reaction on Parmenides developed systems that made change possible by showing that it does not require that something should come to be from nothing. The unchanging material principles are indivisible particles, the atoms. Two fundamentally different kinds of realities compose the natural world, atoms and void. In supposing that void exists, the atomists claimed that ûwhat is not' exists. Democritus replaced the gods and teleology as explanations of phenomena with his deterministic laws of nature based on atoms. Underlying the changes in the perceptible world, there was constancy (atoms were neither created nor destroyed); change was caused by the combinations and dissociations of the atoms.

The Pre-Socratic principle of immanent causation by an agent which in itself is part of the physical world causes problems which the Socratic tradition tries to solve with postulating an first principle which is immateriel and itself not part of the physical world. With Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) starts the Socratic school of scientific thought which stands in the Pythagorean tradition. For Plato the eternal first principle itself was no longer part of the physical world (immanent) as opposed to the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Plato developed the theory of transcendent forms and ideas and a different causality in the noematic and phenomenological world. Like the Pythagoreans, Plato found the ordering principle of the universe in mathematics, specifically in geometry. Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) had the archetypal Greek belief, that humanity was born with an innate knowledge of everything, and that learning was a process of unlocking the memories. Aristotle (384-322 BCE), by contrast, believed that Plato had everything the wrong way around, and that knowledge could only be gained by comparing it with what was already known and perceived. For Aristotle the eternal first principle itself was also no longer physical, but metaphysical although in contrast with Plato it was immanent instead of transcendent. Aristotle postulated that first principles (archai, principia) are self-evident, which means that we can know intuitively that they are true just by understanding them (by noûs, "mind" - bootstrapping first principles into existence). Aristotle developed the theory of Potentiality and Actuality, which are principles of a dichotomy which Aristotle used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motion, causality, ethics, and physiology in his Physics, Metaphysics, Eudemian Ethics, Nicomachean Ethics and De Anima. The struggle between the next world and this world and society and Truth appears in the differences between Plato and Aristotle. Plato was focused on the Good and the timeless world of the Forms. He attempted to divine the Forms and use this knowledge to inform human actions in this world. Aristotle was concerned with the Nature of things and people. Aristotle began with what he could see and progressed from there, but still used deduction from first principles. He was more grounded in the material world than Plato, believed in the value of observational science, and performed many measurements and observations resembling somewhat modern empiricism. Modern Physicists, generating beautiful and elegant mathematical theories to explain the cosmos are far closer to Plato than Aristotle. Aristotle also rejected the atomism of Leucippus and Democritus (which accepted a void and nothingness) and instead proposed a theory based on plenism (horror vacui) in his natural philosophy.

Zeno of Citium (ca. 344-262 BCE) would found the Stoa and stoicism. The Stoic cosmos is an organism imbued with divine reason (logos), and its entire development is providentially ordained by fate. They were the first philosophers to systematically maintain the idea that every event is necessitated by certain causal conditions. The Stoics strictly held to the view that each event has a cause. They rejected the idea that there could be any uncaused events, because that would undermine their basic belief in the coherence of the universe (e.g. Cicero, De Fato, 43). They held, moreover, that each particular event necessitates its effect. The stoics developed the idea of pneuma, which is the concept of the "breath of life", a mixture of the elements air (in motion) and fire (as warmth). Originating among Greek medical writers who locate human vitality in the breath, pneuma for the Stoics is the active, generative principle that organizes both the individual and the cosmos. Epicurus (341-271 BCE) taught that the basic constituents of the world are atoms, uncuttable bits of matter, flying through empty space, and he tried to explain all natural phenomena in atomic terms.

The mathematical school (Pythagorean) of Greek natural philosophy would have its centre in Alexandria, while the Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic and Epicurean schools would find their home in Athens. The Athenians would develop their natural philosophy on first principles, while the Alexandrian school would base itself on axioms and use mainly geometry. Euclid (ca. 300 BCE) would write his famous Elements in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I (323-283 BCE). While the Athenians would develop systems encompassing reality as a whole, the mathematicians of Alexandria would focus on specific problems which they could deal with mathematically. Their methods produced an abstract system, which remained a method for calculation (a hypothesis or mathematical model) but they did not feed it back into reality. This would only change in the 16th century with Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630 CE) when they applied mathematics to describe a physical reality and not merely a "hypothesis" or nice method for calculations with no relation to physical reality. Apollonius of Perga (ca. 262-190 BCE) in his work on conic sections the Conics would develop the mathematics which were used by Galileo to describe the parabolic path of a projectile and for Kepler the elliptic orbits of the planets or bodies in a gravitational field in general. At that moment the Alexandrian (Pythagorean) world of mathematics crossed the Rubicon into the Athenian world of Aristotle and from being only a hypothesis came to terms with physical reality itself. Notice also that the meaning of the word "hypothesis" has changed since the 16th century.

The Abrahamic religions would solve the problem of the existence of the universe in a different way, by putting a creator-God as first principle before and outside the creation of a non-eternal world. The principles of logic can also become different between metaphysics and physics without running into contradictions (non-tautological and non-redundant). An entire new speculative universe opens up because of this solution. Eternity was no longer part of the world itself, but the eternal principle was now placed before the coming into existence of the world. Although the Abrahamic creation of the world is also regarded as a creation 'ex nihilo', it is different form the creation 'ex nihilo' of the Greeks as it postulates an eternal 'first principle' which exists before the creation of the world. This 'first principle' provides an extra-physical cause which is of a different nature than the intra-physical eternal cause of (early) Greek philosophy. The eternal principle combines essence and being in itself and from this eternal principle were derived by creation the essence and being of the entire universe. Everything in the universe depends on the Creator for its essence and being as opposed to the Greek concept of eternal matter existing before and independent of the Gods. The Abrahamic (Semitic) concept avoids some contradictions of the intra-physical concept, but has its own limitations with regard to its interaction and coupling with physics. The Abrahamic concept of time would also be linear, while the concept of time for the Greek philosophers was cyclic.


Platonic solids
The five Platonic solids: tetrahedron-fire, cube-earth, octahedron-air,
dodecahedron-ether, and the icosahedron-water.

Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) was one of the first to write on science and, like Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 495 BCE), he stated that "the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics" and that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato proposed an instrumentalist view on science in which scientific theories are just tools or calculation devices and are not to be interpreted as real. Any generalizations we make may be shown to be false in the future and, also, some of our false generalizations can actually work and therefore an incorrect theory can explain the observations. Plato stated that the awe and beauty we feel in nature while discovering the scientific order of nature is getting closer to God (e.g. harmony of the spheres). In his dialogue Timaeus (ca. 360 BCE), Plato puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. He wrote this dialogue after his return from Italy where his attempt to create the ideal state had failed. Plato concluded that in order to create the ideal state, he first of all had to study the nature of man in relation to the cosmos. The macrocosm of the Universe and the microcosm of man are complementary, as they are both designed according to the same fundamental principles. The cosmos was created according to a plan which was present in the mind of the Creator. The earth was placed at the centre of the Universe, surrounded by the seven spheres of the known planets, including sun and moon. The fixed stars are located at the eight sphere. Man was considered to be of a dual nature, with a mortal body and an immortal soul. The soul of man reaches to the heavens and is connected with the Anima Mundi (world soul). When man is capable to connect with the world soul, then man is capable to participate in its perfection and beauty. Morality and ethics therefore should be founded on the cosmic order. The Timaeus contains an account of how the creator of the universe-the Demiurge-brought the Κόσμου (Cosmos, order) into existence out of Χαος (Chaos), and endowed it with a ψυχή κόσμου (world-soul or anima mundi). One learns that not only is the cosmos as a whole ensouled, but so too are the stars, individually; they are divine living things, for which the Demiurge assigned each soul to a star. As well the Earth, described as a God, foremost in the cosmos. Later Plato explains that even plants possess the third kind of soul (appetitive), and thus are animate.

Plato begins his Timaeus with a distinction between the physical world, and the eternal world. The physical one is the world which changes and perishes: therefore it is the object of opinion and unreasoned sensation. The eternal one never changes: therefore it is apprehended by reason. The creation of the universe, Plato ascribes to the handiwork of a divine craftsman: the Demiurge. Timaeus describes the substance as a lack of homogeneity or balance, in which the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) were shapeless, mixed and in constant motion. Considering that order is favourable over disorder, the essential act of the creator was to bring order and clarity to this substance. Therefore, all the properties of the world are to be explained by the demiurge's choice of what is fair and good; or, the idea of a dichotomy between good and evil, earth and heaven, body and soul. De demiurg creates the world soul, and the elements. Plato associates each of the four elements with a regular solid, the so-called Platonic solids. Plato chose to constitute each of thee Platonic solids from right triangles, which played the role of the "sub-atomic particles" in his theory of everything. The element earth was associated with the cube or hexahedron, air with the octahedron, water with the icosahedron, and fire with the tetrahedron. The fifth Platonic solid, the dodecahedron, Plato remarked, "...the God used for arranging the constellations on the whole heaven". To the dodecahedron Plato therefore assigned the element Cosmos as it must be what the stars and planets are made of, while Earth (cube) and man were associated with Cosmo. The aesthetically perfect proportion in creation is known as Golden Ratio or "Golden mean" (Latin: sectio aurea) or even "Divine proportion" or "Divine section" (Latin: sectio divina).

In the Phaedrus, Plato describes the supercelestial world as situated above the firmament or vault of heaven, or above all the heavens. The doctrine of supercelestial regions therefore belongs to Plato who says in his Phaedrus: "Now of the heaven which is above the heavens no earthly poet has ever sung or will sing worthily; but I must tell, for I am bound to speak truly when speaking of the truth. The colorless and shapeless and intangible essence and only reality dwells encircled by true knowledge in this home, visible to the mind alone, who is the lord of the soul".

As Christian natural philosophy lacked a model for physical reality, both Platonic and Aristotelian cosmology would be used as a source to create a specific Christian cosmology. The Platonic Timaeus had a strong influence on medieval Neoplatonic cosmology and was commented on particularly by 12th century Neoplatonic Christian philosophers of the Chartres School, such as Thierry of Chartres (died 1150 CE) and William of Conches (ca. 1090-after 1154 CE). In the De philosophia mundi, William of Conches explains the world as composed of the four classical elements (elementa). The Neoplatonic influence can also be seen on the Royal Portals of Chartres Cathedral, which shows the artes liberales or seven liberal arts of antiquity (Theory: Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric and Subjects: Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and Music) and the founders of science such as Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 495 BCE), Aristotle and Euclid. In the 16th century, the German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) attempted to find a relation between the five extraterrestrial planets known at that time and the five Platonic solids. In his Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596), Kepler laid out a model of the solar system in which the five solids were set inside one another and separated by a series of inscribed and circumscribed spheres.

In the Philebus Plato introduced the concept of the anima mundi (world-soul). He argued that the universe, like the human body, is composed of the four Empedoclean elements (fire, air, water, earth). Both the human and the cosmos are well-ordered and exhibit clear signs of logos, of rationality. The body, though nothing more than a well-ordered combination of the elements, possesses a soul; therefore a reasonable implication is that the universe too, and everything in it, are ensouled. In the Laws Plato stated that everything is full of gods. This concept would become known as panpsychism. The end of Hellenism and the Stoic philosophy coincided with the beginnings of the monotheistic religious worldview. Monotheism and the Christian worldview were fundamentally opposed to panpsychism. The concept of the world-soul would have a profound influence on Neoplatonic Renaissance philosophy and world-view, which would bring Renaissance philosophers into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church.


Aristotle's (384-322 BCE) approach to science differed from Plato's. He agreed that the highest human faculty was reason, and its supreme activity was contemplation. However, in addition to studying what he called "first philosophy" - metaphysics and mathematics, the things Plato had worked on, Aristotle thought it also very important to study "second philosophy": the world around us, from physics and mechanics to biology. While the subject-matter of metaphysics is "being as such" or "being qua being" (essences), science studies nature (phusika). Aristotle, in contrast to Plato, taught a realist view on science where scientific, mathematical tools are not merely tools, but they characterize the way the universe actually is. At most one model is correct. Aristotle first clearly defined what was scientific knowledge, and why it should be sought. In other words, he single-handedly invented science as the collective, organized enterprise it is today. Plato's Academy had the equivalent of a university mathematics department, Aristotle had the first science department, truly excellent in biology, but weak in physics (with severe consequences starting from the Renaissance). Aristotle's matter theory was fundamentally qualitative: qualities were built into the fundamental building blocks that made up substances. Against the atomists' idea of a nature without design or purpose, Aristotle constructed a natural philosophy that made nature a purposeful agent (teleological). In De Anima he puts foward the idea that "there is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses". He makes experience to be the true source of all our knowledge, intellectual, as well as sensible. This would become the basis for the concept of the "blank slate". The mind does not, as Plato imagined, bring out of a previous existence the recollection of certain ideas, of which it is reminded at sight of the phenomenon. The validity of sense perception for the human mind would remain until the early years of the scientific revolution with Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE).

Aristotle's method of investigation varied from one natural science to another, depending on the problems encountered, but it usually included:

  1. defining the subject matter
  2. considering the difficulties involved by reviewing the generally accepted views on the subject, and suggestions of earlier writers
  3. presenting his own arguments and solutions
This is still the pattern modern research papers follow, Aristotle was laying down the standard professional approach to scientific research. The arguments he used were of two types: dialectical, that is, based on logical deduction; and empirical, based on practical considerations. Dedusction is nowadays mostly used by the so-calles alpha-sciences (humanities, G: Geisteswissenschaften) and empiricism by the so-called beta-sciences. Aristotle often refuted an opposing argument by showing that it led to an absurd conclusion, this is called reductio ad absurdum (reducing something to absurdity). Galileo used this kind of argument against Aristotle himself in his though experiment that all masses must fall with the same acceleration despite their differing weights and thereby deducing the concept of inertia, to the great annoyance of Aristotelians. Another possibility was that an argument led to a dilemma: an apparent contradiction. However, dilemmas could sometimes be resolved by realizing that there was some ambiguity in a definition, say, so precision of definitions and usage of terms is essential to productive discussion in any discipline.

In contrast to Plato, who felt the only worthwhile science to be the contemplation of abstract forms, Aristotle practiced detailed observation and dissection of plants and animals, to try to understand how each fitted into the grand scheme of nature, and the importance of the different organs of animals. Plato and Aristotle agreed with each other that the world is the product of rational design, that the philosopher investigates the form and the universal, and that the only true knowledge is that which is irrefutable. The essential difference between them was that Plato felt mathematical reasoning could arrive at the truth with little outside help, but Aristotle believed detailed empirical investigations of nature were essential if progress was to be made in understanding the natural world. One of the earliest philosophical works on science was the treatise on logic and syllogism written by Aristotle: Organon (Greek for meaning tool, organ). Organon is the name given by Aristotle's followers, the Peripatetics, to the standard collection of his six works on logic (Categoriae, De interpretatione, Analytica Priora, Analytica Posteriora, Topica, and De sophisticis elenchis). In The Categories (Latin: Categoriae) Aristotle introduces his 10-fold classification of that which exists. These categories consist of substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, situation, condition, action, and passion. In On Interpretation (Latin: De Interpretatione, Greek Perihermenias) Aristotle introduces his conception of proposition and judgment, and the various relations between affirmative, negative, universal and particular propositions. On Interpretation contains Aristotle's principal contribution to philosophy of language. It also discusses the Problem of future contingents. In The Prior Analytics (Latin: Analytica Priora) Aristotle introduces his syllogistic method for logic, argues for its correctness, and discusses inductive inference.

Aristotle created the foundations on which mathematics and logic would be built. All truth-based mathematical abstraction would rely on Aristotle's "being qua being" metaphysics which asserts truth as the essence of being. The three traditional laws of thought, the law of identity, the law of noncontradiction and the law of excluded middle, constitute the basic principles of mathematical abstraction and logic (see also The Laws of Thought: A Thematic Compilation, Avi Sion, Avi Sion, 2008, p. 7).

Aristotle created the foundations of traditional logic, which is a truth-preserving instrument to derive conclusions from premises. A syllogism is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two or more others (the premises) of a certain form. The middle term of a syllogism is a Socratic definition. Aristotle defines the syllogism as "a discourse in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so". The syllogism was at the core of traditional deductive reasoning, where facts are determined by combining existing statements, in contrast to inductive reasoning where facts are determined by repeated observations. The syllogism was only superseded by first-order predicate logic following the work of syllogism (1848-1925 CE), in particular his Begriffsschrift> (see also A Companion to Aristotle, Georgios Anagnostopoulos, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, Ch. 'Deductive Logic').

In The Posterior Analytics (Latin: Analytica Posteriora) Aristotle deals with demonstration, definition, and scientific knowledge. In The Topics (Latin: Topica) Aristotle treats issues in constructing valid arguments, and inference that is probable, rather than certain. It is in this treatise that Aristotle mentions the Predicables, or classification of the 5 possible relations in which a predicate may stand to its subject: definition (horos), genus (genos), differentia (diaphora), property (idion), accident (sumbebekos). The Predicables were later discussed by Porphyry of Tyre (234-ca. 305 CE) in his Isagoge (268-270) and the Medieval scholastic logicians, who learned of it through the Latin translation by Boethius (ca. 480-524 or 525 CE). Finally, in The Sophistical Refutations (Latin: De Sophisticis Elenchis) Aristotle gives a treatment of logical fallacies, and provides a key link to his work on rhetoric.

Astronomy and physics

Like the Presocratics before them, both Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE) developed a Cosmology and a view of the Universe. Plato makes a distinction between the world of Ideas (Forms), which is the world of being; everything in this world "always is", "has no becoming", and "does not change". It is apprehended by the understanding, not by the senses. The physical world or the Cosmos is the world of becoming; everything in this world "comes to be and passes away, but never really is". It is grasped by opinion and sense-perception. The cosmos itself came into being, created using as its model the world of Forms. Plato, in the Timaeus gives an account of the cosmos based on theology, in which the world is created by a divine craftsman or demiurge. With this image he clearly demonstrates his commitment to geometric design and an ordered and purposeful universe. According to the account in the Timaeus, the Earth lies at the center of the cosmos and consists of atomic elements shaped like regular solids; geometry is thus built into the system at the most basic level. The cosmos has a soul and is itself a living being (Latin: Anima Mundi). After the creation a little soul was left over and human souls consist of remnants of the world soul (Anima Mundi). Studying the geometrical regularities exhibited by the movements of the stars and planets improves the human soul, because they mirror the world soul (concept of macrocosm and microcosm). According to Plato, astronomy should not be studied for its usefulness or in order to understand the physical world. Rather Plato recommends in the The Republic (380 BCE) that astronomy is studied to direct the mind toward an unchanging reality (concept of The Forms) of which the sensible world is but a faint image.

Aristotle makes a distinction between the Sublunar and Supercelestial world. The Sublunar realm is composed of the lower and ignoble matters: the four elements (earth, water, air and fire). It is the region of change and movement, only here there are processes of change, generation, corruption (birth and death). The Supercelestial realm is composed of a material different from any known material on earth, which Aristotle called "quintessence", a fifth element, like fire but incomparably more pure than ground fires, which are mixed with other elements. This is the quintessential "purisima " that makes the stars. In this region there are no changes, is incorruptible and eternal, his only movement will be in perfect circles. For Aristotle there is still another a separate realm, where there are no separate forms, such as the unmoved mover (primum movens) at the pinnacle of the cosmos, which are without matter and are not part of the physical world, the study of this part of reality would be what Aristotle calls first philosophy or Metaphysics. As there are such separate entities, physics is dependent on these, and is only a secondary philosophy, which he describes in his Physics. The prime and distinctive task of Metaphysics is an inquiry into first principles or causes; these, however, are not perceptible entities, and as a result they have to be investigated (indirectly) through a metaphysical investigation of physical entities. The Physics or "phusikes akroaseos" (Latin: Physica or Physicae Auscultationes, meaning "lectures on nature") of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) is one of the foundational books of Western science and philosophy. The Physics, is divided into two main parts, the first is an inquiry into Nature (books 1-4) and the second a treatment of motion (books 5-8). The Physics is a collection of treatises or lessons that deal with the most general (philosophical) principles of natural or moving things, both living and non-living, rather than physical theories (in the modern sense) or investigations of the particular contents of the universe. The chief purpose of the Physics is to discover the principles and causes of (and not merely to describe) change, or movement, or motion (kinesis), especially that of natural wholes (mostly living things, but also inanimate wholes like the cosmos). Besides the Physics, Aristole dealt with particular problems in De generatione et corruptione (On Generation and Perishing) on the Four Causes and also the Four Elements (against the atomists), the De caelo (On the Heavens), and the Meteorologica about the earth sciences or sublunar sciences.

The study of nature by Aristotle was a search for "causes". What, exactly are these "causes"? He gave some examples. Aristotle stated that any object (animal, plant, inanimate, whatever) had four attributes or causes. Each of these causes is a different kind of answer to the question "why?":

Matter and form as two of the four causes, or explanatory factors, are used to analyze the world statically. To know how it came to be that way, we need to look at things dynamically to explain why matter has come to be formed in the way that it has. The efficient and final causes explain change which consists in matter taking on (or losing) form.

Aristotle's approach to studying nature fits nicely with Christianity and would be used in Thomism. The problem however was that Aristotle's primum movens was only the initiator of motion and the world as such was eternal and not created ex nihilo as was required by Christianity. Christianity would combine the Peripatetic tradition with Neoplatonism which stated that the world emanated from the first principle. The idea that every organism is beautifully crafted for a particular function - its "final cause" - (teleology) in the grand scheme of nature certainly leads naturally to the thought that all this has been designed by somebody. Teleology meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. Aristotle's really great contribution to natural science was in biology. Living creatures and their parts provide far richer evidence of form, and of "final cause" in the sense of design for a particular purpose, than do inanimate objects. both Aristotle and Plato saw in the living creatures around them overwhelming evidence for "final causes", that is to say, evidence for design in nature, a different design for each species to fit it for its place in the grand scheme of things. This is of course quite different from the Darwinian concept of evolution by means of natural selection.

Aristotle's theory of the basic constituents of matter looks to a modern scientist perhaps something of a backward step from the work of the atomists and Plato in the Timaeus and the . Aristotle, like Empedocles (ca. 495-435 BCE), assumed all substances to be compounds of four elements: earth, water, air and fire, and each of these to be a combination of two of four opposites, hot and cold, and wet and dry. (Actually, the words he used for wet and dry also have the connotation of softness and hardness). Aristotle's whole approach is more in touch with the way things present themselves to the senses, the way things really seem to be, as opposed to to the abstract geometric considerations of Pythagoreanism and Platonism.

One of the key concepts of Aristotleian physics is the "movement". It is the "transition from potency to act", the process by which a being is successively moved or changed by the potential that exists in accordance with its own nature. For Aristotle motion had a purpose, an animal was moving to someplace it would rather be, for some reason, so the motion was directed by the animal's will. For Aristotle, this motion was therefore fulfilling the "nature" of the animal, just as its natural growth fulfilled the nature of the animal. To account for motion of things obviously not alive, he extended the concept of the "nature" of something to inanimate matter. Aristotle suggested that the motion of such inanimate objects could be understood by postulating that elements tend to seek their natural place in the order of things, so earth moves downwards most strongly, water flows downwards too, but not so strongly, since a stone will fall through water. In contrast, air moves up (bubbles in water) and fire goes upwards most strongly of all, since it shoots upward through air. This general theory of how elements move has to be elaborated, of course, when applied to real materials, which are mixtures of elements. The fact that earthlike matter falls toward the earth as the heaviest element requires the earth to placed in the center of the universe, which is the foundation for the geocentric theory of the Universe. For Aristotle a stone's natural tendency, if left alone and unsupported, is to fall, but we can lift it, or even throw it through the air. Aristotle termed such forced motion "violent" motion as opposed to natural motion. The term "violent" here connotes that some external force is applied to the body to cause the motion. The falling of a stone was considered natural motion that did not require any outside help. This would only change with the theory of gravity of Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE). Aristotle was the first to think quantitatively about the speeds involved in these movements. He made two quantitative assertions about how things fall (natural motion):

From his second law Aristotle concluded that a vacuum cannot exist (horror vacui), because if it did, since it has zero density, all bodies would fall through it at infinite speed. For violent motion, Aristotle stated that the speed of the moving object was in direct proportion to the applied force. Aristotle in response to atomism, argued that vacuum, (empty space), does not exist in nature because the denser surrounding material continuum would immediately fill the rarity of an incipient void. This theory is called plenism. The idea that motion (of inanimate objects) can be accounted for in terms of them seeking their natural place clearly cannot be applied to the planets, whose motion is apparently composed of circles. Aristotle therefore postulated that the heavenly bodies were not made up of the four elements earth, water, air and fire, but of a fifth, different, element called aither, whose natural motion was circular. This lead to the concept that celetial physiscs was different from earthly physics. The work of Galileo and Newton however would unify both sublunar and cosmic physics into one system.

Geocentric system
The geocentric model of the solar system
according to Aristotle and Claudius Ptolemaeus.

The Platonist Eudoxus of Cnidus (410 or 408-355 or 347 BCE) placed all the fixed stars on a huge sphere, the earth itself a much smaller sphere fixed at the center. The huge sphere rotated about the earth once every twenty-four hours. So far, this is the standard "starry vault" picture. Then Eudoxus assumed the sun to be attached to another sphere, concentric with the fixed stars' sphere, that is, it was also centered on the earth. This new sphere, lying entirely inside the sphere carrying the fixed stars, had to be transparent, since the fixed stars are very visible. The new sphere was attached to the fixed stars' sphere so that it, too, went around every twenty-four hours, but in addition it rotated slowly about the two axis points where it was attached to the big sphere, and this extra rotation was once a year. This meant that the sun, viewed against the backdrop of the fixed stars, traced out a big circular path which it covered in a year. This path is the ecliptic. To get it all right, the ecliptic has to be tilted at 23½ degrees to the "equator" line of the fixed stars, taking the North star as the "north pole".

Aristotle endorsed the concept of geocentricity, which would dominate Western science until the Renaissance. The Aristotelian system was also homocentric, meaning that all orbits were perfect circles. The Aristotelian system did not yet use the complex deferent and epicycle of the Ptolemaic system. In Aristotle's astronomy, presented in his Metaphysics, Physics and De Caelo (On the Heavens), the Universe consisted of 33 celestial spheres and he thereby followed Callippus of Cyzicus (ca. 370-ca. 300 BCE) who had postulated 33 celestial spheres in all, 4 each for Saturn and Jupiter, 5 each for Mars, Venus, Mercury, the sun and the moon. Aristotle divided the Universe in two essentially separate regions, a sublunar world below the moon and all the rest. The sublunar world was distinguished from the heavens by being subject to irregularities and accidents, but it was still governed by physical laws, which however were different from those governing de supralunar spheres. For Aristotle the physical laws were founded in the "doctrine of natural motion" and the world was made up of five elements: earth, wather, fire, air and aether or quinta essentia (fifth essence). The first four elements permeated the sublunar sphere and the last the translunar region. The seven planets, besides the Earth, were the Moon, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The outermost sphere contained the fixed stars. Beyond the sphere of the fixed stars resided the Unmoved Mover, the primal cause. The closer the spheres (planets, stars) were to the primal cause, the more perfect they were. The planets and the stars for Aristotle were living creatures with a certain intelligence which moved them and they acted as secondary causes. The natural motion of the former was rectilinear and centripetal or downward towards earth and water or upward in the case of fire an air. Motion in the sublunar world could be blocked. Motion for the fifth element, aether in the supralunar sphere was circular and could never be blocked as it was perfect. In the translunar sphere, filled with aether, there existed no bodies in the usual sense, no location and no time. Out of his theory of the sublunar sphere Aristotle also rejected the possibility of a vacuum and thereby introduced the concept of the "horror vacui". It was not until Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) that the sublunar and translunar spheres were united in one theoretical framework with the law of gravity uniting physical events both on earth as in the universe. Newton thereby stated in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) "That which is above is the same as that which is below" and the fundamental unity of the laws of physics for the universe (supralunar) and the earth (sublunar) as opposed to the Aristotelian cosmology.

Hipparchus (second century BCE) would develop a new way of combining circular motions to account for the movements of the sun, moon and planets. He was aware the seasons weren't quite the same length, and therefore put forward that the sun went around a circular path at uniform speed, but that the earth wasn't in the center of the circle. Now the solstices and equinoxes are determined by how the tilt of the earth's axis lines up with the sun, so the directions of these places from the earth are at right angles. If the circle is off center, though, some of these seasons will be shorter than others. We know the shortest season is fall (in our hemisphere). Another way of using circular motions was provided by Hipparchus' theory of the moon. This introduced the idea of the "epicycle", a small circular motion riding around a big circular motion. The moon's position in the sky could be well represented by such a model. In fact, so could all the planets. One problem was that to figure out the planet's position in the sky, that is, the line of sight from the earth, given its position on the cycle and on the epicycle, needs trigonometry. Hipparchus developed trigonometry to make these calculations possible. Hipparchus is also considered to be responsible for the transmission of both Babylonian observations and procedures and for the synthesis of Babylonian and Greek astronomy.

The Aristotelian Claudius Ptolemaeus (ca. 90-168 CE) of Alexandria wrote the Almagest in which he put his astronomical observations into a geocentric theoretical framework, which would dominate our Western view on the heavens for more than than 1300 years. The alternative heliocentric theory however was not entirely new when it appeared in the 16th century as Copernican heliocentrism with the publication of the De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543 CE). Aristarchos of Samos (310-ca. 230 BCE), was a Greek astronomer and mathematician, born on the island of Samos, in Greece, who presented the first known heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe. Aristarchos was influenced by the Pythagorean Philolaus of Croton, but, in contrast to Philolaus, he identified the "central fire" with the Sun, and put the other planets in their correct order of distance around the Sun. The heliocentric model was rejected in favor of the geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemaeus until the Renaissance. The heliocentric theory was successfully revived by Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543 CE), after which Johannes Kepler 1571-1630 CE) and Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) provided the theoretical (mathematical) explanation based on laws of physics, namely Kepler's celestial laws for the motion of planets and Galileo's earthly laws on motion into one framework of gravitational attraction and dynamics. Both Copernicus, Kepler and Newton were indebted to Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 495 BCE) for providing a (mathematical) philosophical framework for their discoveries. However, Kepler and Newton added (Baconian) empiricism to the purely mathematical (Pythagorean, Platonic) approach of Copernicus.

Mathematicians and engineers

Besides the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition, another tradition developed in Greek antiquity, a tradition based on mathematics and engineering. With people like Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 495 BCE) and Euclid of Alexandria (fl. 300 BCE), Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-ca. 212 BCE) and Hero of Alexandria (ca. 10-ca. 70 CE) the Alexandrine mathematical and mechanical tradition would be established. The foundations of modern mathematics were created by Pythagoras, Euclid and Archimedes, while Hero of Alexandria can be regarded as the 'Father of Physics'. Greek science and engineering produced the Antikythera mechanism, an analog computer designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses (see also The Light of Alexandria, James Maynard,, 2005 and Companion Encyclopaedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences, Ivor Grattan-Guinness, Routledge, 2002 and The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why It Had to Be Reborn, Lucio Russo, Berlin, Springer, 2004 and Gears from the Greeks: The Antikythera Mechanism - a Calendar Computer from C. 80 BC, Derek John de Solla Price, Science History Publications, 1975).

Euclid of Alexandria (fl. 300 BCE) wrote the Elements, a mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books. It laid the foundations for the understanding and development for Western mathematics and geometry. The basic structure of the Elements begins with establishing axioms or its first principles, the starting point from which he developed 465 propositions, progressing from his first established principles to the unknown in a series of steps, without the use of coordinates, a process known as the 'Synthetic Approach'. Euclid based his approach upon 10 axioms, statements that could be accepted as truths. He called these axioms his 'postulates' and divided them into two groups of five, the first set common to all mathematics, the second specific to geometry. Euclid looked at mathematics as a whole, but concentrated mainly on geometry and that particular discipline formed the basis of his work. The way in which Euclid used logic and demanded proof for every theorem along the way shaped the developent of Western natural philosophy. The approach of the unknown by a succession of logical steps, thereby linking the progress of knowledge and understanding to the basic truth, supposedly to exist within the axioms and postulates, provides every logical step with truth value. The primacy of geometry over number would have a profound influence on the development of mathematics. Using geometric reasoning avoided having to deal with irrational numbers. Only with the development of Cartesian geometry would geometry and numerical reasoning gain equal status. More recently also Non-Euclidean geometry would be developed (see also History of Science and Philosophy of Science: A Historical Perspective of the Evolution of Ideas in Science, Pradip Kumar Sengupta, Pearson Education India, 2010, p. 76 and The Philosophical and Mathematical Commentaries on the First Book of Euclid's Elements, to which are Added, a History of the Restoration of Platonic Theology, by the Latter Platonists; and a Translation from the Greek of Proclus's Theological Elements, Volume 1, Proclus Diadochus, Payne, 1792).

Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-ca. 212 BCE) worked on mathematics and mechanics, including hydraulic devices. The principles of mathematics and hydraulics developed by Archimedes competed with the theories which were being developed by Aristotelian science. He introduced an inductive method of discovery which crossed the disciplines of mathematics and mechanics. He studied the so-called Archimedean simple machines: lever, pulley and screw and discovered the principle of mechanical advantage (leverage) in the lever: "The Law of the Lever". The simple machines trade off forces against movement to obtain a desired amplification in the output force. In his treatise On Floating Bodies, he laid out the fundamental principles of hydrostatics. In his mathematical treatise Sand Reckoner, he created a number system capable of counting all of the grains of sand in the universe and in the process clarified the meaning of infinity. His treatise on The Method of Mechanical Theorems, presents a method for discovering new ideas that could later be proven rigorously as part of an inductive process. In The Method Archimedes uses a methode related to integral calculus to calculate the volume of a cylindrical wedge, thereby dealing with infinitesimals. According to Reviel Netz: "Infinity is central to the history of Western mathematics because the history of Western mathematics was determined by a very Greek problem -- the problem to which Archimedes contributed more than anyone else: how to calculate the properties of curved objects. The 'theorem of the wedge' is the first time that we see any Greek mathematician doing something with infinity -- actually producing an argument using infinity" (see also Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes, Alan Hirshfeld, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2009 and The Archimedes Codex: Revealing the Secrets of the World's Greatest Palimpsest Reviel Netz, William Noel, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007 and Archimedes -- "Infinite Secrets", PBS broadcast).

Only with the development of the new mathematical and experimental approach to science during the Renaissance, which started with Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE), the dominance of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) in Western natural philosophy would start to decline. In 1586 Galileo wrote a short treatise entitled La Bilancetta ("The Little Balance") in which he applied Archimedes' usage of the Law of the Lever and Law of Buoyancy on the fraud in Hiero's golden crown. Simon Stevin (1548-1620 CE) in his work on statics and hydrostatics such as in De Beghinselen des Waterwichts (Principles on the weight of water), would be one of the Renaissance scientists inspired by the work of Archimedes (see also The Genius of Archimedes -- 23 Centuries of Influence on Mathematics, Science and Engineering: Proceedings of an International Conference held at Syracuse, Italy, June 8-10, 2010, S. A. Paipetis, Marco Ceccarelli, Springer Science & Business Media, 2010 and The New Science and Jesuit Science, M. Feingold, Springer Science & Business Media, 2003 and Archimedes's Impact on the Discovery Process in Ancient Greece, Michael Foss, Olin College of Engineering, 2006 AHS Capstone Projects, 2006).

Hero of Alexandria (ca. 10-ca. 70 CE) can be regarded as the 'Father of Physics', because he moved away from pure (deductive) reasoning towards empirical experiments, a break from the traditional approach of the Greek scientific tradition. Hero studied the nature of matter, referring to the studies of Anaxagoras (ca. 510-428 BCE) and Democritus (ca. 460-ca. 370 BCE). He supported the molecular theory of matter, which was put forward by the early atomists, such as Democritus. His works are very diverse and include the Mechanics, Optics, Pneumatics and Metrica. The Mechanics consists of an introduction, a theoretical part, and a practical part; the Metricadeals with the mathematical knowledge of his time, while part of the Dioptra deals with astronomy. The Pneumatics is more of a collection of notes in preparation of writing a textbook. Parts of it are derived from the Pneumatics of Philo of Byzantium (ca. 280-ca. 220 BCE). The introduction of the Pneumatics treats the occurrence of a vacuum in nature and the pressure of air and water. He made use of atoms to explain compression and rarefaction (to thin something out; become less dense). Although he denied the existence of an extended vacuum, he allowed for a vacuum between atoms (vacuum intermixtum). As an atomist Hero tried to create a vacuum in order to prove the existence of the void as opposed to the Aristotelian plenism with his horror vacui. In his work Mechanics lists five simple machines that can "set a load in motion"; lever, windlass, pulley, wedge, and screw and he describes their fabrication and uses. However Hero, like all Greeks, only understood the statics of simple machines; the balance of forces, and did not include dynamics; the tradeoff between force and distance, or the concept of work. This would also mark the great divide between Aristotelian physics, which dealt with dynamics and motion and the work of the Alexandrines, whose work dealt mainly with statics. Only during the Renaissance would the concept of work be understood.

Hero and Archimedes stood in a different tradition from Socrates (469-399 BCE) and Plato (429-347 BCE), who believed that all of the laws underpinning the universe could be uncovered by deduction and reasoning rather than through practical experimentation and inductive reasoning. At the end of the classical era the mathematical tradition of the Alexandrine tradition would decline, only to emerge again with the work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) and finally with the publication of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica on 5 July 1687 CE by Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) (see also Hero of Alexandria, Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 2008 and Nichts als das Nichts - die Physik des Vakuums, Henning Genz, Wiley VCH 2004 and A History of Science, Volume 6, Henry Smith Williams, Edward Huntington Williams, Harper & brothers, 1910, p. 322 and The Nature of Physical Existence, Ivor Leclerc, Routledge, 2014, p. 163)


This therefore is Mathematics:
She reminds you of the invisible forms of the soul;
She gives life to her own discoveries;
She awakens the mind and purifies the intellect;
She brings light to our intrinsic ideas;
She abolishes oblivion and ignorance which are ours by birth...
- Proclus - Commentary on the First Book of Euclid's Elements -

From the 4th century BCE to the rise of Christian philosophy in the 4th century CE, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Skepticism and Neoplatonism were the main philosophical schools in the Western European world. Interest in natural science declined steadily during this period, and these schools concerned themselves mainly with ethics and religion. The Romans, as their architecture and engineering shows, were far more interested in the empirical applied side of science, using mathematics and practical knowledge to create some great technological advances. They did not, however, have too much of a contribution to the philosophical side, simply building upon the methods used by 'the Stagirite' Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and the Alexandrian Claudius Ptolemaeus (ca. 90-168 CE). Their contribution to practical science was immense, but they had a minimal effect upon the history of the philosophy of science, leaving the field largely devoid of momentum for hundreds of years. The paradigms of natural philosophy would change when Christianity started to replace the classical world-views of antiquity. The Hellenistic School of Alexandria of Ptolemaic Egypt remained an important center of learning during the Roman era.

The geometric and scientific scientific developments of antiquity came together in analyzing the motion of the planets in terms of elaborate combinations of circular motions (deferent and epicycle), an approach suggested by Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and first proposed by Apollonius of Perga (ca. 262-ca. 190 BCE), which culminated in Ptolemy's Almagest and the geocentric model of the universe. The Alexandrian scholar Claudius Ptolemaeus (ca.90-ca.168 CE) would write the Almagest and the Tetrabiblos, which would become the most important works on astronomy and astrology. The Almagest contained the tables which were to be used as a companion to the Tetrabiblos, which dealt with the study of the effects of astronomical cycles on earthly matters. The Almagest gave huge numbers of tables by which the positions of planets, sun and moon could be accurately calculated for centuries to come. In the Anthologia Palatina we find the famous epigram by Ptolemaeus with the Platonic affirmation of the divinity and immortality of the soul: "I know that I am mortal, but when I observe the circular motion of the multitude of stars I no longer touch the earth with my feet; I sit next to Zeus himself and drink until I am sated with the liquor of the Gods - Ambrosia." His Almagest was for astronomy at the time what Euclid's (fl. 300 BCE) Elements meant for geometry.

Besides the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic cosmology, alternative models existed such as the cyclic models proposed by Stoic philosophers, the infinite-universe favoured by the Atomists and the heliocentric model of Aristarchus of Samos (310-ca. 230 BCE) and Seleucus of Seleucia (ca. 190 BCE, fl. 150s BCE).

Between the death of Hippocrates (ca. 450-350 BCE) and the founding of the School of Alexandria in Egypt, Greek medicine had become entrenched with speculation, seeing little advances in medicine. The three principal Hellenistic (medical) schools: Dogmatists, Methodists and the Empirics can be traced back to Hippocrates in some way. Hippocrates put forward the doctrine of the four humors of the body: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile (or sometimes serum). Health was defined as the balance of the four humors. Disease was defined as the imbalance of the humors. According to Diocles of Carystus (4th century BCE) and Praxagoras (4th century BCE), the psychic pneuma mediates between the heart, regarded as the seat of Mind in some physiological theories of ancient medicine, and the brain. Erasistratus (304-250 BCE) believed a vital force was absorbed through the lungs from the air. He believed that the arteries were full of air and that they carried the "animal spirit" (pneuma). Claudius Galenus (129-ca. 200 CE) was a prominent Roman (of Greek ethnicity) physician, surgeon and philosopher. Galen's understanding of anatomy and medicine was principally influenced by the then-current theory of humorism, as advanced by many ancient Greek physicians such as Hippocrates. The theories of Galenus dominated and influenced Western medical science for nearly two millennia. His practice of medicine is closest to Aristotelian critical empiricism that requires careful observation and a comprehensive theory that will make those observations meaningful. Galenus employed the four-element theory (earth, air, fire, and water) as well as the theories of the contraries (hot, cold, wet, and dry). One of the most important aspects of Galenic practice was his implementation of the Hippocratic theory of the four humours (phlegm, blood, black bile, and yellow bile). These points of focus relate to a theory of health as balance. Galenus adhered to the vitalistic doctrine and denied that living organisms could be explained by mindless interplay of atoms, rather he believed there was a vital force that powered the human body (pneuma).

With the division of the Roman Empire, the Western Roman Empire lost contact with much of its past. Most classical scientific treatises of classical antiquity written in Greek were unavailable, leaving only simplified summaries and compilations. While the Byzantine Empire still held learning centers such as Constantinople, Western Europe's knowledge was concentrated in monasteries until the development of medieval universities in the 12th and 13th centuries. The curriculum of monastic schools included the study of the few available ancient texts and of new works on practical subjects like medicine and timekeeping.

The problem of the eternity of the world would require a new approach within the religious framework of the Abrahamic religions, which had to be different from the viewpoints held by claissical natural philosophers. A new natural philosophy had to be developed to fulfill the requirements and the framework imposed by the emerging and expanding religions. The physics and metaphysics of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) would dominate the debate on the eternity of the world from late antiquity until Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE). During late antiquity, Christian philosophers like Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) began to turn away from the clasical principles of natural philosophy. Augustine in his work De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim (E: The Literal Meaning of Genesis) dealt with the way Christians should deal with knowledge against non-Christians. In De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim, Augustine denounces Christians who speak on subjects they know little or nothing about in an attempt to appear 'wise' among non-Christians. In this work, Augustine echoes and expands upon the sentiment of the author of the Epistle of James who wrote, "If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's Religion is vain" (James 1:26) and "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth" (James 3:5). The piece is interesting on many levels but, certainly, for an understanding of how early Christians viewed non-Christians and how they were instructed to comport themselves among those outside of the Christian faith.

The relation between Christianity and classical natural philosophy was also influenced by 1 Corinthians 1:20 ubi sapiens ubi scriba ubi conquisitor huius saeculi nonne stultam fecit Deus sapientiam huius mundi, where Paul of Tarsus (ca. 5-ca. 67 CE) stated that the ancient wisdom was foolish as God could overrule all the (materialistic) principles of man. Against the Epicureans, Paul of Tarsus taught that God is involved in the affairs of His creation and created us specifically to search for Him. In contrast to the Stoics, Paul taught that God is personal and not a part of this universe. He also taught that there would be a judgment to come, not a giant conflagration leading to another cycle. The power of God was proven for instance by the pregnancy of Sarah at her old age (Genesis 21:2), the virgin birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:16, 1:18, 1:20; Luke 1:30-35, 1:26-38) (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception), and the resurrection of Jesus (Gospels, Romans 1:3-4, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7). This of course is not compatible with the world-view of some classical natural philosophers, such as the materialism of atomists like Democritus (ca. 460-370 BCE), Epicurus (341-270 BCE) and Titus Lucretius Carus (ca. 99-55 BCE). The atomists were scorned as being only superficial thinkers as they rejected any metaphysical principle which was not rooted in materialism, which is of course the central principle of Christianity. Nominalists would also be connected to the Epicurean atomists.

Middle Ages


During the Middle Ages, the center of science was not Europe, but the Islamic Empire to the south and east. As most historical scientific texts had been written in Greek, following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the decline in knowledge of Greek, Western Europe was cut off from an important source of ancient learning.

Islamic science

The Islamic world preserved the philosophical knowledge of the Ancient Greek philosophers, adding to it techniques and philosophies learned from the Vedics in India. Muslim scientists placed far greater emphasis on experiment than had the Greeks had done before. Christian Nestorians had preserved and read the works of Aristotle (384-322 BCE), Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE), etc., and translated many of them into Syriac. Under the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma'mun (813-833 CE), the House of Wisdom was founded (in 828): a large library and translation center into Arabic, first from Persian, then Syriac, then Greek. Many works were translated from Syriac into Arabic, including some of Archimedes (ca.287-ca.212 BCE) and all of Euclid (fl. 300 BCE). Hunayn ibn Ishaq (808-873 CE), a Nestorian, redid many translations to make them more readable. Al-Khwarismi (780-850 CE) wrote The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing (Liber Algebrae et Almucabola) (820 CE) that introduced the Hindu numbering system (now known as Arabic) to the Western world. These developments led to an early scientific method being developed in the Muslim world, where significant progress in methodology was made, beginning with the experiments of Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965-ca. 1040) on optics from ca. 1000, in his Book of Optics. Ibn al-Haytham is commonly regarded as the first scholar to define the modern scientific method, laying down the steps of the scientific process and attempting to unite the induction of predictions and generalizations with the deduction of experiments. He also pointed out that scientists should not regard themselves as infallible, and that they should be open to criticism. The great scientist and polymath, Ibn Sina (980-1037), also known as Avicenna, built upon the scientific processes postulated by Aristotle, but was one of the first philosophers to bring the metaphysical issue of God into the picture. He believed that general and universal questions were the first stage, and experiments uncovered the truth. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274) developed plane and spherical trigonometry and wrote the first complete book on the subject: Treatise on the quadrilateral. He also made the first really significant advance on Ptolemy's Almagest and published the Zij-i ilkhani (Ilkhanic Tables).

al-Kindi (ca. 800-870 CE) was the first philosopher of the Islamic world. He lived in Iraq and studied in Baghdad, where he became attached to the caliphal court. >al-Kindi in his work On First Philosophy would argue against the eternity of the world which was held by Aristotle, the Stoics, and orthodox Neoplatonists. al-Kindi used an argumentation based on John Philoponus (490-570 CE) and his critique of Aristotle in the Physics commentary. A mathematical argument against the eternity of the world was also given by scholars because of the differences in the length of the orbits of the Earth (365.26 Solar days) and Venus (224.7 Earth days). These durations being different would mean that a difference existed in perfect eternity, which was considered a mathematical contradiction and was used as an argument against the eternity of the universe. The development of mathematical concepts which distinguish between different types of eternity would allow to solve this issue. Applying mathematical philosophical criteria on a physical situation may lead to problems as the logic in both realms acts under different premises and laws (partial non-redundancy). A knowledge base is redundant if it contains parts that can be inferred from the rest of it, but equivalency of the topology of logic is to be verified between mathematical concepts and physics in order to avoid logical errors (see also Al-Kindi, Peter Adamson, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 75 and Redundancy in logic I: CNF propositional formulae, Paolo Liberatore, Artificial Intelligence Volume 163, Issue 2, April 2005, Pages 203-232).

Western European science

The first significant renewal of learning in Western (Latin) Europe came with the Carolingian Renaissance of the Early Middle Ages. Most of Medieval Western science was rooted in Aristotelianism, which also became the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church. At first only part of Aristotle's Logic was available to Medieval scholars, translated into Latin by Boethius (ca. 480-524 or 525 CE) through his Consolatio Philosophiae and Aristotle was considered to be "The Father of Logic". Aurelius Augustinus or Augustine (354-430 CE) would write his De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim (401-415 CE) (Literal Interpretation of Genesis) influenced by Plato and Greek biology. In his De Ordine libri duo Augustine would write on the order in the universe. Augustine put forward the approach of the two books. He held that we ought to approach the quest for knowledge by holding together the two sacred forms of revelation that God has given to humanity: the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature. His belief was that these two books are God's perfect and complementary ways to communicate with his image bearers about truth. They are authored by the same divine pen, so they must work together rather than finding themselves in conflict with each other. One had to keep in mind that God accommodated truth to package it in a way that was understandable for the original audience. So, in regards to passages like Genesis one, Augustine did not hold to a literal six-day formation of the universe or even six distinct periods of creation; as is evident in his De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim. Augustine also believed that some interpretations of difficult texts ought not be held so dogmatically that they fail to leave room for the Book of Nature to have the authority reveal truth about reality. This is not to say that the Bible is ever wrong, but that it is possible that our perceptions of God's perfect truth can be incorrect at times. This of course does not mean that science trumps Scripture, but rather that we must have enough humility to recognize the validity of other sources of knowledge. Augustine also warned Christians that it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on scientific matters; and they should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. Several theologians and philosophers besides Augustine would write a so-called Hexaemeron or commentaries on the biblical Genesis 1 in which they tried to reconcile the creation myth of Genesis 1 with the Platonic Timaeus.

Concordantia astronomiae cum theologia
Concordantia astronomiae cum theologia, Pierre d' Ailly (1490)
Necesse est veram astronomiae scientiam sacrae theologiae concordare

In the 12thcentury, new translations of Aristotle's scientific work and philosophy became available for Western (Latin) Europe. The increased contact with the Islamic world in Spain and Sicily, the Crusades, the Reconquista of Iberia, as well as increased contact with the Byzantine Empire, allowed Europeans to seek and translate the works of Hellenic and Islamic philosophers and scientists, especially the works of Aristotle. This period would mark the dawn of the High Middle Ages or the Renaissance of the 12th century, preceding the (Italian) Renaissance. The Reconquista put an end on the joint philosophical development of Islam and Judaism in Al-Andalus.

At first the newly discovered pagan philosophy with its critical method of enquiry and its emphasis on reason (logic, logos) posed a threat to Christian doctrine, but with the synthesis of the Dominican Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) Aristotelianism became the foundation for Christian theology, philosophy and science. He combined the science and philosophy of Aristotle with the revealed truths of Christianity. Holding that Aristotelianism is true but is not the whole truth, he reconciled the philosophy of Aristotle with the truth of Christian revelation. According to Thomas Aquinas, God governs the world as the universal first cause. For him, the whole of human knowledge forms one all-encompassing, orderly, hierarchical system with sciences at the base, philosophy above them, and theology at the top. It follows that human values and truths are not eradicated by the revelation of higher ones. Faith does not contradict nature, human knowledge, or science. Philosophy proceeds from principles discovered through the use of human reason and theology emanates from authoritative revelation. Aquinas taught that the universe is an orderly and integrated hierarchy that can only be fully understood when seen in relationship to God. Concerning the problem of the eternity of the world, Aquinas would write in De aeternitate mundi that the noneternity of the world is a matter of faith as it cannot be demonstrated by natural philosophy or reason (see also The Eternity of the World: In the Thought of Thomas Aquinas and His Contemporaries, Jozef Wissink, Leiden, 1990). Thomas Aquinas put forward that it was dangerous to apply physical reasoning to the problem of the eternity of the world in order to support the Christian doctrines. It would make Christianity vulnerable for new developments in natural philosophy which might undermine the physical 'proofs' used by devout Christian scholars. Only apply philosophy when it is beneficial and without risk for the Christian faith, otherwise use only Biblical and doctrinary arguments. Putting too much cards on the table, makes one vulnerable for attacks, which is what happened in the end with the Aristotelian system, because it became intrically integrated into Christian doctrine. Although for Thomas Aquinas philosophical and scientific arguments were inferior to revealed Biblical and theological arguments, getting involved in discussions at this inferior level could create negative misunderstandings concerning faith. The Thomistic Aristotelian philosophy would not become the accepted doctrine immediately as it faced opposition from other Christian scholars.

Out of this effort of Thomas Aquinas and others grew Scholasticism, a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics (scholastics, or schoolmen) of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100-1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending Christian orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of, and a departure from, Christian monastic schools and their interpretation of Aristotle and other Greek scholars which were avaialable to them. Not so much a philosophy or a theology as a method of learning, scholasticism places a strong emphasis on dialectical reasoning to extend knowledge by inference, and to resolve contradictions. Scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions. In the classroom and in writing, it often takes the form of explicit disputation: a topic drawn from the tradition is broached in the form of a question, opponents' responses are given, a counterproposal is argued and opponent's arguments rebutted. The main figures of Scholasticism historically are Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109 CE) (Father of scholasticism), Peter Abelard (1079-1142 CE), the Dominican Albertus Magnus (1193/1206-1280 CE), the Franciscan John Duns Scotus (ca. 1265-1308 CE), the Franciscan William of Ockham (ca. 1288-1348 CE), the Franciscan Bonaventure (1221-1274 CE) and the Dominican Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas's masterwork, the Summa Theologica, is often seen as the highest fruit of Scholasticism. Thomas Aquinas placed more emphasis on reason and argumentation, and was one of the first to use the new translation of Aristotle's metaphysical and epistemological writing. This was a significant departure from the Neoplatonic and Augustinian thinking that had dominated much of early scholasticism. In his Summa contra Gentiles Thomas Aquinas would put forward his interpretation of the Aristotelian cosmology with the four elements out of which we get the 'corpora mixta'. The seven heavenly spheres with the 'corpoa caelestia' or seven planets and the three heavens: the caelum empyraeum, the caelum cristallinum and the caelum stellatum or firmamentum. The angels lived in the caelum empyraeum together with souls of thse who went to heaven. The 'corpoa caelestia' consist of aether (quita essentia, fifth element) as opposed to the four elements for the earth. Bonaventure in his Breviloquium put forward his view on the universe with ten heavenly and four elementary spheres. The three heavens consisted of the caelum empyraeum, the caelum cristallinum and the caelum stellatum or firmamentum. Within the caelum stellatum we find the seven planets: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun (Sol), Venus, Mercurius and the Moon (Luna). The motion of the planets was animated by Angeli (angels), similar to the 'intelligentiae separatae' of Aristotle. The planets acted as intermediaries between the heavens and earth and were needed 'ad perficeindum et decorandum universum'. Finally we find the earth consisting of the 'corpora elementaria': fire, air, water and earth. The elements combine to create the 'corpora mixta', such as man, animals, plants, minerals, ... The 'corpora mixta' in their 'generatio et corruptio' were influenced by the planets or 'corpoa caelestia' as 'causae secundae', with God as 'causa prima' (similar to the 'primus motor immobilis' or 'primus movens non motus' of Aristotle) which brings in Astrology. In Utrum mundus productus sit ab aeterno, an ex tempore (Whether the world has been produced from eternity, or in time) Bonaventure attempts to subvert the concept of eternity and the idea of infinity on which it depends. However by using reason for his argumentation, he makes himself and faith vulnerable for rational counterarguments (see also God and Reason in the Middle Ages Edward Grant, p.238).

The medieval worldview put forward a world 'ordinata collectio creatorum' as in Paul: 'Quae autem sunt, a Deordinatae sunt'. The entire universe was unchangeable, ordered according to a vertical hierarchy or 'gradatio entium' and was anthropocentric or oriented towards man: 'homo propter quem omnia'. Man consisted of a body made of the four elements, influenced by the 'corpora caelestia' and the 'virtus seminis' and a soul consisting of three parts created by 'creatio immediata'. Man is therefore a 'productio mediata' between heaven and earth or a triune being composed of spirit, soul, and body. Man was created as a replacement for the fallen angels and the world would come to an end when the number of fallen angels was replaced by righteous people in heaven. The chosen ones would receive four characteristics: claritas, subtilitas, agilitas and impassibilitas. God as the creator of the universe was given three attributes: potentia, sapientia and bonitas which can be found in the order of creation. In the concept of the Trinity, potentia is associated with the Father and the category of efficient causality, sapientia is associated with the Son and the category of exemplary causality and finally bonitas is associated with the Holy Spirit or final causality. Creation was considered to be the outward representation of divine power, wisdom and goodness. We can find these ideas for instance in the works of Hugh of Saint Victor (1096-1141) and Bonaventure (1221-1274) such as in the Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum. The triad of potentia, sapientia and bonitas probably originated from Peter Abelard (1079-1142). Also the Neoplatonists of Chartres had interpreted the three powers at work in the Platonic creation of the Timaeus, the Demiurge, Idea and Good in a Trinitarian context. These causes, efficient, formal and final reflected the potentia, sapientia and bonitas of the Christian Trinity. For instance William of Conches (c. 1090-after 1154) in his Glossae super Platonem. As opposed to Plato in his Timaeus however, God did not create the world out of materia prima or hulè but 'ex nihilo' or 'out of nothing'. Both the Book of Nature and the Bible should lead to the same knowledge and understanding of creation. The divine hierarchical order penetrates entirely all aspects of medieval life and its understanding of the world in a grand synthesis between faith and science which we only find during the Middle Ages in scholasticism. The universal order should also be mirrored in society as in De regimine principium of Thomas Aquinas. The 'hierarchia ecclesia' also resembled the hierarchy of the universe: 'sucealestis vel ecclesiastica hierarchica' and the pope was the 'fons origo et regula cunctorum principatuum eccelsiasticorum, a quo tamquam a summo derivatur ordinata potestas usque ad infima Eccleriae membrae' (Breviloquium of Bonaventure). The same goes for the seven saraments, like the seven planets they are tools of God, which both influence man by means of a 'qulitas influxa' of 'virtus fluens'. The three first sacraments are a first 'opus distinctionis', the second one is the 'sacramentum ordinis' which puts the clergy apart from the laypeople. The 'sacramentum ordinis' consists itself of seven hierarchical stages, four lower and three higher ordinations.

William of Ockham (ca. 1285-1349 CE) was a famous nominalist (rejected the principle of universals as having a real presence outside their existence as mental images) and is considered to be the father of the concept of Ockham's razor or 'lex parsimoniae', although the principle itself can be traced back to John Duns Scotus (1265-1308 CE), Maimonides (1138-1204 CE), and even Aristotle (384-322 BCE). The razor asserts that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. He mentioned the principle as Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate (E: Plurality must never be posited without necessity), in his theological work Quaestiones et decisiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi. In his Summa Totius Logicae, William of Ockham cites the principle of economy, Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora (E: It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer).

Jean Buridan (c. 1300-after 1358 CE) further developed the concept of impetus of John Philoponus (490-570 CE) and Nur ad-Din al-Bitruji (died ca. 1204 CE), which provided the first step toward the modern concept of inertia. The theory of impetus was an auxiliary or secondary theory of Aristotelian dynamics, put forth initially to explain projectile motion against gravity. Buridan put forward the so-called tunnel experiment and oscillatory motion, which brought oscillatory and pendulum motion within the pale of dynamical analysis and understanding in the science of motion (see also Early physics and astronomy: a historical introduction, Olaf Pedersen, CUP Archive. p. 210 and Essays on Galileo and the History and Philosophy of Science, Volume 3, Stillman Drake, University of Toronto Press, 1999, p. 279).

Nicholas Cusanus (1401-1464 CE) is credited with originating (or reviving) the idea of the infinite universe during the late Middle Ages, but his cosmology was still thoroughly Neoplatonic and mystical. Cusanus can be seen as laying the conceptual foundation for the abandonment of the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic closed world, but he is still operating completely within the experience of an ensouled world as opposed to the atomistic (corpuscular) and mechanistic world-view which would develop during the Scientific Revolution. Nicholas Cusanus put forward that mathematical knowledge was always absolutely certain knowledge; as such, the mathematical sciences were higher than all other sciences, including the qualitative empiricism of Aristotle. Cusanus also argued that their was one single, archetypal idea in the mind of God and that this idea is present in every other idea and in every physical object. With the proper understanding, one could arrive at this archetypal idea by studying any object whatsoever (see also Renaissance Neo-Platonism, R. Hooker, Washington State University).

The emphasis put on the teachings of Aristotle by Christian scholars would have a huge impact on scientific development in Western Europe. Aristotle had created a full and quite complete and extremely dogmatic system of explanations, which in his eyes did explain the workings of the whole of the physical world. Unfortunately Aristotle had founded a large part of his thinking on pure logic only and he largely shied away from empiricism. This tendency created a lot of faulty and misplaced results that plagued the western science for centuries, the more so when these 'truths' had the full backing of the Church. No science that was built solely on the findings of Aristotle simply could not produce any kind real new results, the more so, as the findings of Aristotle were part of the official canon of the Church and nobody could really doubt his findings for centuries. Real science was quite impossible under these circumstances. Real science just must always doubt even its own roots and earlier findings. Science just cannot be real science without doubts being present. Real and meaningful results just cannot be achieved without this process of criticism.

Protestantism would reject Thomism and Aristotle and in the process release science from its Aristotelian bonds. At the same time the rediscovery of Plato during the Italian Renaissance and its accompanying Pythagorean view (mathesis, mathematics) on reality would open new doors for the exploration of Nature.



Summa scientia nihil scire
- Christian Rosenkreutz - Chymische Hochzeit -

The Renaissance was an historical age that followed the Middle Ages, preceded the Protestant Reformation and spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The rediscovery of ancient texts and the invention of printing democratized learning and allowed a faster propagation of ideas. But the first period of Italian Renaissance is often seen as one of scientific backwardness: humanists favored the study of humanities over natural philosophy or applied mathematics. And their reverence for classical sources further enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic physics and cosmology (see also On the Heavens, Aristotle and Almagest).

Heliocentric system
The heliocentric model of the solar system
according to the Pythagorean Aristarchos of Samos and Nicolaus Copernicus.

A revolt against Aristotelian authority would lead to a new view on science and nature. While Aristotelian and medieval science made use of four causes, modern science would only keep the material (causa materialis) and effective cause (causa efficiens). The formal (causa formalis) and final causes (causa finalis) were to be left aside, as they could not be dealt with within the upcoming scientific paradigm. The 'causa materialis' and the 'causa formalis' were the causes of being, while the 'causa efficiens' and the 'causa finalis' were the causes of becoming. Modern science would only retain the 'causa efficiens' within the domain of the 'causa materialis' worthy to be studied. The 'causa efficiens' was to be considered necessary and sufficient for the appearance of something (see also Causality and Modern Science, Mario Bunge, Transaction Publishers, 2011, p. 32 and Novum Organum Scientiarum, Francis Bacon, Book II, Aphorism 9, 1620).

The Renaissance also witnessed the marriage between mathematics and science, which would become the dominant model of modern science. During the Renaissance, practical mathematics, which grew out of the classical statics and hydrostatics of the Alexandrine tradition, would develop into a new theory of dynamics. The physical model of Aristotelian science would be replaced by a new theory, based on practical mathematics and ancient atomism or corpuscularism. The new science was inspired by the mathematics of Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-ca. 212 BCE) and the physics of the ancient atomists, such as Democritus (ca. 460-ca. 370 BCE) and Titus Lucretius Carus (ca. 99-ca. 55 BCE). Physics would become founded on the properties of particles (corpuscles) and their motion. The union of mathematics and corpuscular physics would develop into physico-mathematics (see also The hydrostatic paradox and the origins of Cartesian dynamics, S. Gaukroger, J. Schuster, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Volume 33, Number 3, September 2002, pp. 535-572(38) and The Cambridge History of Science: Volume 3, Early Modern Science, Roy Porter, Katharine Park, Lorraine Daston, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 125 and De rerum natura, Lucretius).

The real flowering of science and the scientific revolution could only happen when, in the late Renaissance, the Aristotelian system was thrown overboard and the findings of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE), René Descartes (1596-1650 CE) and others moved philosophia naturalis away from the Physics and cosmology of Aristotle (384-322 BCE). Descartes even famously said that the faults of Aristotelian thinking could not be proved in a better way than by realizing how science did not develop at all during those centuries when the Aristotelian ideas were followed. As an alternative for the Aristotelian system, Descartes had the ambition to build his own interconnected system of knowledge, a system comprising an account of knowledge, a metaphysics, a physics and other sciences (see also The Metaphysics of Science: An Account of Modern Science in Terms of Principles, Laws and Theories, Craig Dilworth, Springer Science & Business Media, 2007, p. 202).

Scholasticism would survive as the basis for the scientific method for Roman Catholicism well into the 20th century, thereby effectively isolating Roman Catholic scientists and philosophers from the scientific and philosophical evolution of Western Europe (the scholastic method would also be applied by Lutheran scholars in their philosophical struggle with the Roman Catholic Church). Roman Catholic theologians and scholars would oppose the new scientific philosophy and method as it was tainted by Platonism, Neoplatonism and Pythagoreanism. In the Islamic world opposition to the philosophical developments of scientists as Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198 CE) would also lead to a more conservative approach to science and philosophy which would hinder further progress of Islamic science which had been at the forefront of scientific development for most part of European history during the Middle Ages. One could say that Roman Catholicism would remain in (Aristotelian) Athens, while Protestantism would move to Alexandria and beyond: "Ex Alexandria Lux" (see also Science, Worldviews and Education: Reprinted from the Journal Science & Education, Michael R. Matthews Springer Science & Business Media, 2009, p. 70 and Science and Technology in World History, Volume 3: The Black Death, the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution, David Deming, McFarland, 2012, p. 114).

During the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance the Almagest and the Tetrabiblos of the Alexandrian scholar Claudius Ptolemaeus (c.90-c.168 CE) were the authoritative texts on Astronomy and Astrology. Astronomy was generally seen as a theoretical underpinning of astrology, problems and events in the one, having serious implications for the other. Together Astronomy and Astrology were called the "Science of the Stars". The geocentric Ptolemaic system was based on the system of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) with some improvements. Aristotle had proposed that the heavens were literally composed of 55 concentric, crystalline spheres to which the celestial objects were attached and which rotated at different velocities (but the angular velocity was constant for a given sphere), with the Earth at the centre. The philosophy of Aristotle (rediscovered in Western Europe in the 12th) century was wedded to Medieval theology in the great synthesis of Christianity and Reason undertaken by philosopher-theologians such as Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE). The Prime Mover or first cause ( Metaphysics, Book XII) of motion in Aristotle's universe became the God of Christian theology, the outermost sphere of the Prime Mover became identified with the Christian Heaven, and the position of the Earth at the centre of it all was understood in terms of the concern that the Christian God had for the affairs of mankind. Roman Catholic theology was a synthesis of pagan Aristotelian philosophy and logic in addition to the Bible which provided authority to its arguments. This synthesis made Roman Catholic theology vulnerable as the philosophy and cosmology of Aristotle became part of Roman Catholic doctrine besides the Bible. An attack on Aristotle would easily become an attack on Roman Catholic doctrine and teachings (see also Starry Skies Moving Away, Barry Vacker, Theory Vortex Experiments, 2009 and Embracing Epistemic Humility: Confronting Triumphalism in Three Abrahamic Religions, Donald Borchert, Lexington Books, 2013, p. 119).

From the geocentric to the heliocentric model of the solar system

De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Nicolaus Copernicus (1543 CE)

In medio vero omnium residet sol. Quis enim in hoc pulcherrimo templo
lampadem hanc in alio vel meliori loco poneret, quam unde totum simul possit illuminare?
Siquidem non inepte quidam lucernam mundi alii menetem, alii rectorem vocant.
Trimegistus visibilem deum, Sophoclis Electra intuente omnia.
- Nicolaus Copernicus - De revolutionibus orbium caelestium, Liber I, Cap X -

In the Renaissance scientists made new discoveries and challenged the Aristotelian paradigm of science. Georg von Peurbach (1433-1461 CE) and Regiomontanus (Johannes Müller) (1463-1476 CE) published works which were crtitical of the Ptolemaic Almagest. Peurbach and Regiomontanus, who, inspired by ancient astronomy, sought to reform theoretical astronomy, fully aware that improvement in astronomy (improved tables with positions of planets and stars) would lead to an improvement of astrology.

The heliocentic breakthrough however came with Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543 CE) and his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (E: On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) (1543) in which he proposed a heliocentric alternative to the geocentric Ptolemaic system. Copernicus had visited Italy as a student and came into contact with the philosophy of the Italian Renaissance. The Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinicatrium (Treatise Against Astrology) (c. 1498) of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494 CE) was available to Copernicus when he was in Italy and was a strong argument against the prevailing belief in astrology. In book X, chapter 4, of this work Pico pointed out that ancients and moderns disagreed over the ordering of Mercury and Venus, which suggested that the basis for gauging planetary influences was shaky. The main reason for Copernicus' dissatisfaction was not the geocentric nature of Ptolomy's model, but rather the fact that it mandates that heavenly bodies execute non-uniform circular motion. Copernicus, like Aristotle, was convinced that the supposed perfection of the heavens requires such bodies to execute uniform circular motion only. Copernicus returned to the homocentric principles of the Aristotelian system and rejected the deferent and epicycle of the Ptolemaic system.

Copernicus probably adopted the heliocentric theory sometime between 1508 and 1514 and his first heliocentric writing had been the Commentariolus but was never printed. The Commentariolus contains seven axioms which Copernicus gives, not in the sense that they are self evident, but in the sense that he will base his conclusions on these axioms and nothing else. One of the axioms states: "The apparent retrograde motion of the planets is caused by the motion of the Earth from which one observes". Copernicus appears to be the first to have correctly explained the retrograde motion of the outer planets. It is likely that he wrote the Commentariolus in 1514 and began writing his major work De revolutionibus in the following year. Copernicus had arrived at the heliocentric theory by observation and analysis of planetary models. Girolamo Fracastoro (1478-1553 CE) in his Homocentrica (1538) had attempeted to restore astronomy on purely homocentric Aristotelian principles. Fracastoro had taught at Padua during the stay of Copernicus at the University of Padua. Giovan Battista Amici (1511-1538 CE) also published a book in which he tried to restore the homocentric principles. The Paduan Averroist Alessandro Achillini (1463-1512 CE) in his De Orbis opposed the Ptolemaic system, based on Averroes and Aristotle. All reformers were inspired by the commentary of Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198 CE) in his commentary on De Caelo. Agostino Nifo (ca. 1470-1538 CE) severely criticized the Ptolemaic system in his commentary on De Caelo (1517) and for him the Ptolemaic construction were 'fabulas aniles' (old wives' tales) (see also Between Copernicus and Galileo: Christoph Clavius and the Collapse of Ptolemaic Cosmology, James M. Lattis, 1994, p. 90 and The Making of Copernicus: Early Modern Transformations of a Scientist and His Science, Wolfgang Neuber, BRILL, 2014, p. 17 and Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Robert E. Krebs, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, p. 23).

Copernicus put the planets around the sun proportional to the duration of their orbits. In contrast to the old Pythagoreans he put the sun in the centre instead of the central fire, thereby placing the sun and the planets into a celestial relation. Copernicus stated that "the Sun is situated at the centre of the Cosmos, wearing it like a crown" and "Around the Sun are the six spheres that depend from it: the sphere of the fixed stars, the six of the planets, and the one that surrounds the Earth". Copernicus used observational data from the Greek astronomers, and stuck rigidly to Aristotle's belief that perfect motion of the heavenly bodies had to be circular (homocentrism). This insistence on circular motion meant that to fit the observations Copernicus had to place the centre of the universe not at the Sun but at a point close to the Sun (the so-called mean sun) around which both the Earth and the Sun revolved. Copernicus modeled the orbit of the earth around the sun using an Hippachian scheme in which the earth moves uniformly around an eccentric circle. Copernicus still required epicycles and eccentric motion. Copernicus therefore cannot be said to have demonstrated the correctness of his heliocentric approach on the basis of observational data. Reforms in astronomy implied improvement in astrology, and some contemporaries looked to the De Revolutionibus with that result in mind. So in 1541 CE, Reiner Gemma Frisius (1508-1555 CE) wrote how the De Revolutionibus was an eagerly awaited work from a skilled mathematician which would hopefully end the astronomical errors and uncertainties that beset the astrologer. For others, the attraction of the book lay in its tables, which in turn had astrological implications. For many people in that time, it was just a new companion for the astrological Tetrabiblos with new tables and more precise positions of the planets instead of the Almagest (see also Copernicus in the Cultural Debates of the Renaissance: Reception, Legacy, Transformation, Pietro Daniel Omodeo, BRILL, 2014, p. 156).

As Copernicus' new cosmology became more widely known, opposition grew because of the theological consequences. The universe had after all been created for mankind, so why wasn't mankind at the center any longer? The philosopher and Dominican friar Giordano Bruno (1548-1600 CE) not only accepted Copernicus' view, but went even further, claiming that the stars were spread through an infinite space, not just on an outer sphere, and there were infinitely many inhabited worlds. For Bruno everything in the universe contained an element of the divine. But his form of pantheism does not claim that his infinite universe was identical with God: the incorporeal infinity of God is different in kind to, and more perfect than, the infinity of the world. He also followed the doctrine of Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464 CE), who claimed that the infinitely large and the infinitely small are identical, like two ends of a circle. Giordano in his natural philosophy put forward that the earth moves and that the sun also moved around its axis. In addition he rejected the so-called third motion which Copernicus postulated for the earth. His cosmological views lead to changes in man's conception of himself. Instead of putting "man against man" his views lead to a live as a universal man or 'uomo universale' and also lead to a change in the relation between man and God. He also held a different view on the relation between reason and nature. His view on the relation between nature and reason is found in one of his Latin poems: 'Naturaque sit rationi Lex; non naturae, ratio', which opposed the scholastic tradition of relying on authority (see also The New Light of Europe: Giordano Bruno and the Modern Age, Geoffrey Neal Cassady McTighe, ProQuest, 2007, p. 155 and La Cena de Le Ceneri, Giordano Bruno, Edward A. Gosselin, Lawrence S. Lerner, Renaissance Society of America, University of Toronto Press, 1977, p. 28 and The infinite worlds of Giordano Bruno, Antoinette Mann Paterson, SUNY, 1970, p.96 and Processo E Morte Di Giordano Bruno: I Documenti, Luciano Parinetto, Rusconi Libri, 1999, p. 20 and The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, C. B. Schmitt, Quentin Skinner, Eckhard Kessler, Cambridge University Press, 1988, p. 246 and La mente e la mano: aspetti della storicità del sapere e del primato del fare in Giordano Bruno, Aniello Montano, La città del sole, 2000, p. 68 and Opera latine conscripta publicis sumptibus edita: 1.2: Continens De immenso et innumerabilibus (Lib. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), Giordano Bruno, Morano, 1884, VII cp. 14).

Fabrizio Mordente (1532-ca. 1608 CE) had developed a new "proportional eight-pointed compass" and published his Il compasso del s. Fabritio Mordente con altri istromenti mathematici ritrovati da Gasparo suo fratello (1584). Giordano Bruno and Mordente met in Prague after which Bruno published his dialogues Mordentius and De Mordentii circino. He praised Mordente, but also presented criticisms on his concept of infinity, that raised protests from the mathematician. Mordente replied to Bruno's criticism in 1586 and Bruno responded with the satires Idiota triumphans and De somnii interpretatione. Bruno criticised Mordente's Aristotelian view concerning infinity. According to this view the universe was finite but on the microscopic level Aristotle proposed an infinite divisibility of matter. Bruno on the contrary viewed the universe as infinite and the corpuscle which made out matter as indivisible. Bruno followed in the footsteps of the classical atomists like Democritus (ca. 460-ca. 370 BCE), who said that there must be atoms, because things being infinitely divisible leads to the absurd conclusion that there is nothing left to reassemble. Aristotle on the contrary argued that although things are infinitely divisible, they are not divisible everywhere. He thus rejected a premiss of the atomists' necessary to conclude that nothing is left to reassemble. The problem with atomism or corpuscularism is that it would make transubstantiation impossible, for all accidental qualities of bread and wine are sensory manifestations of their atoms. Thus, if the qualities do not change, neither do the atoms. But if the atoms do not change, neither does the substance. His heterodox views brought Giordano Bruno into trouble with Roman Catholics, Calvinists and Lutherans. In the end Giordano Bruno was condemned by the Roman Inquisition for his heretical cosmological and Egyptian-Hermetic beliefs and burned at the stake on 17 February 1600 at the Campo de' Fiori. Giordano Bruno would become a hero for secular humanists, but mainly because they did not read or understood his works and its spiritual and religious meaning. Bruno's fate had a large impact on subsequent cosmological discussions and feuding natural philosophers were quick to accuse each other of heresy, and careful to insist that their views remained orthodox (see also Aristotle's De Generatione Et Corruptione, C. J. F. Williams, Clarendon Press, 1982 and The infinite worlds of Giordano Bruno, Antoinette Mann Paterson, SUNY, 1970, p.9 and Celestial Treasury: From the Music of the Spheres to the Conquest of Space, Marc Lachièze-Rey, Jean-Pierre Luminet, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 42 and Late Medieval and Early Modern Corpuscular Matter Theories, Christoph Herbert Lüthy, John Emery Murdoch, William Royall Newman, BRILL, 2001, p. 179 and The Scientific Revolution: An Encyclopedia, William E. Burns, ABC-CLIO, 2001, p. 25 and The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History, David Freedberg, University of Chicago Press, 2003, p. 83 and The Making of Copernicus: Early Modern Transformations of a Scientist and His Science, Wolfgang Neuber, BRILL, 2014, p. 150)

Aristotle takes as his basis the distinction of two dissimilar halves which make up the universe. The sublunary and the superlunary worlds, the heavenly and the earth. Although remaining within the bounds of a material sphere, Copernicus' model replaced the geocentric Ptolemaic world with the heliocentric Pythagorean world, and in doing so, removed the foundation of Aristotelian binarism. Despite his highly mathematical methodology, Copernicus' cosmology was still based on idealist metaphysics rather than on mathematical necessity. The Copernican heliocentric model was developed in the context of the 15th century revival of Neoplatonism and Pythagoreanism, and the accompanying advances in the use of abstract algebraic symbols. Accordingly, planetary orbits were circular and the sun at the center of the world, not because of mathematical relationships between forces and matter and the principles of solar system formation, but because of the "perfection" of circular motion, the "dignity" of the central place, and the primacy of form over matter. For the Neoplatonists and Alexandrians the universe was "fundamentally geometrical", while "the orthodox Aristotelian school minimized the importance of mathematics". For Aristotle nature was primarily qualitative rather than simply quantitative. Although more mathematical, the Neoplatonic cosmos is no less teleological and requires the governing intelligence of a world-soul (anima mundi) (see also Mathematics for the Nonmathematician, Morris Kline, Courier Corporation, 2013, p. 194 and Roots of Wisdom: A Tapestry of Philosophical Traditions, Helen Mitchell, Cengage Learning, 2014, p. 90).

The alleged Neoplatonic ideas in the work of Copernicus were part of the growing controversy. "Copernicus studied in Bologna under the Platonist Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara (1454-1504 CE); and Copernicus' idea of placing the sun rather than the earth in the center of the universe was not the result of new observations but of a new interpretation of old and well-known facts in the light of semi-religious Platonic and Neo-Platonic ideas. The Central Fire, often misinterpreted as the Central Sun, was an idea inherited from ancient Pythagoreanism, and Copernicus called his heliocentric model "the Pythagorean theory" and quoted the Hermetica in its defense (see also De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Thorn ed., 1873, p. 30 and Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic tradition, F. A. Yates, University of Chicago Press, 1964, p. 154). Heliocentrism was motivated as much by religious and philosophical considerations as by astronomical ones, for Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, and related philosophies considered the Sun to be "the visible god", associated with the Demiurge (Neoplatonic 'Nous'), and a potent symbol for the One and its power, irradiating the material world and bringing it life. From this perspective, the Sun belonged in the center of the universe, which thereby became the fountainhead of the Good rather than the central abyss (see also Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic tradition, F. A. Yates, University of Chicago Press, 1964, pp. 153-154 and Neoplatonism in science: Past and future, B. Maclennan, University Press of the South, 2007). The crucial idea can also be traced back to the sixth book of Plato's The Republic (Book VI, 507b-509c), where we can read that the sun plays the same role in the realm of visible things as does the idea of the good in the realm of ideas. Now the idea of the good is the highest in the hierarchy of Platonic ideas. Accordingly the sun, which endows visible things with their visibility, vitality, growth and progress, is the highest in the hierarchy of the visible things in nature... . Now if the sun was to be given pride of place, if the sun merited a divine status ... then it was hardly possible for it to revolve about the earth. The only fitting place for so exalted a star was the center of the universe. So the earth was bound to revolve about the sun. This Platonic idea, then, forms the historical background of the Copernican revolution. It does not start with observations, but with a religious or mythological idea" (Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Karl Popper (1902-1994 CE), Routledge, 1963, p. 187 and Plato's Simile of Light. Part I. The Similes of the Sun and the Line, A. S. Ferguson, The Classical Quarterly Vol. 15, No. 3/4 (Jul.-Oct., 1921), pp. 131-152).

The demise of Aristotelian science

Aristotle's authority suffered under the ongoing debates among the Aristotelians, and Platonists would attempt to present a Platonic alternative for Aristotelian physics. Francesco Patrizi (1529-1597 CE) was a leading critic of the dominant Aristotelianism of the times. In his Nova de universis philosophia he brought together his opposition to Aristotle and the Peripatetic philosophical method, the admiration for Platonism as a philosophical alternative and as a new basis for philosophical instruction in the universities of Europe. In the end however the reduction of the authority of both Aristotle and Plato would pave the way for a new approach to natural philosophy.

In Aristotelian science, it's (meta-)physics was considered the dominant science and the standard to which other sciences must adhere, while mechanics was considered a subordinate science. What happened during the Renaissance and the early modern era, was that the subordinate sciences would become the usurpators, which pushed Aristotelian physics from it's throne. Mechanics traditionally comprised three areas: statics, dealing with bodies in a state of equilibrium, kinematics, with moving bodies, and dynamics with the forces responsible for motion. The major achievement of Renaissance physical theory would be dynamics. Statics deals with forces, but not with motion, while kinematics deals with motion but not with forces. Dynamics has to deal with both. This implicates two ways to combine statics and kinematics into a new theory for dynamics. The first way is to extrapolate from the treatment of forces used with stationary bodies into the realm of moving bodies. As statics had a long tradition of precise, quantitative and geometrical description this was the prefered way for the Renaissance scientists, such as Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) early on in his career. The kinematics approach, which does not deal with forces, was taken later by Galileo in his Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno à due nuove scienze (1638) in which he provided a precise, quantitative and geometrical account for motion. Aristotelian physics would be challenged by alternative models, such as the one of Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-ca.212 BCE). The traditional Mechanica model of Aristotle (or Strato or Theophrastus) for statics was a purely physical model, while the model of Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287-ca.212 BCE) was purely mathematical. The theory on statics of the Mechanica was based on the proportionality of weight and speed, while the theory of Archimedes was a purely mathametical discipline, independent of any general theory of motion. The theory of Archimedes would develop into physico-mathematics and the mathematical approach in the end would come to dominate science (see also The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity 1210-1685, Stephen Gaukrogerhas, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 403 and The Scope of Renaissance Mechanics, W. R. Laird, Osiris 2, 1986, pp. 43-68 and Nova de machinis philosophiae, Niccolò Zucchi SJ, 1649).

Francis Bacon and the dawn of experimental science

Novum Organum Scientiarum
Novum Organum Scientiarum (Instauratio Magna) of Francis Bacon (1620).

That the state of knowledge is not prosperous nor greatly advancing;
and that a way must be opened for the human understanding entirely different from any hitherto known,
and other helps provided, in order that the mind may exercise over the nature of things the authority which properly belongs to it.
-Francis Bacon - Instauratio Magna -

In 1620 Francis Bacon (1561-1626 CE) published his Novum Organum Scientiarum (part of the Instauratio Magna) or The Novum Organum meaning to provide a new instrument, i.e. new instrument of science, thereby referring to Aristotle's work Organon. In his Novum Organum Scientiarum, Bacon details a new system of logic he believes to be superior to the old ways of syllogism. The culmination of Bacon's philosophical thought was the publication of Francisci de Verulamio, summi Angliae cancellarii, Instauratio magna (1620). This volume includes a six-part division of his whole philosophical programme (Instauratio Magna), the incomplete second part of this plan (Novum Organum), a sketch of the third part (the phenomena of the universe, or a natural and experimental history for the foundation of philosophy), and a catalog of particular histories. His main criticism of Aristotle was that deduction from first principles was impossible in reality - the Greeks had a belief in the perfection of the cosmos, and so deduction could find answers to fit their view of the universe. In the many centuries since, the view of the world had changed, and Bacon believed that the universe was much too complicated to explain by deduction alone. He redesigned the scientific method to utilize a largely induction based philosophy, where a series of observations could be applied to the universe as a whole. For Bacon a true science progressed "in a just scale of ascent, and by successive steps not interrupted or broken, we rise from particulars to lesser axioms; and then to middle axioms, one above the other; and last of all to the most general". His approach became known as the Baconian method. Francis Bacon argued, "The philosopher should proceed through inductive reasoning from fact to axiom to law. Before beginning this introduction, the inquirer is to free his mind from false notions or tendencies which distort the truth". Francis Bacon (1561-1626 CE) in his Novum Organum Scientiarum would put forward that the causes relevant to natural science are only efficient causes and material causes in terms of Aristotle's classification, or to use the formulation which became famous later, all nature visible to human science is matter and motion: "Ex duobus generibus axiomatum, quae superius posita sunt, oritur vera divisio philosophiae et scientiarum; translatis vocabulis receptis (quae ad indicationem rei proxime accedunt) ad sensum nostrum. Videlicet, ut inquisitio formarum, quae sunt (ratione certe, et sua lege) aeternae et immobiles, constituat metaphysicam; inquisitio vero efficientis, et materiae, et latentis processus, et latentis schematismi (quae omnia cursum naturae communem et ordinarium, non leges fundamentales et aeternas respiciunt) constituat physicam: atque his subordinentur similiter practicae duae; physicae mechanica; metaphysicae (perpurgato nomine) magia, propter latas ejus vias et majus imperium in naturam.".

Galileo Galilei and the dawn of mathematical physics

Sidereus Nuncius
- Galileo Galilei, Sidereus Nuncius (1610) -

To this end I have taken the Copernican side in the discourse,
proceeding as with a pure mathematical hypothesis and striving
by every artipee to represent it as superior to supposing
the earth motionless - not, indeed absolutely, but as against
the arguments of some professed Peripatetics [Aristotelians].
These men indeed deserve not even that name, for they do not
walk about; they are content to adore the shadows,
philosophizing not with due circumspection but
merely from having memorized
a few ill-understood principles
- Galileo Galilei, Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, 1632 -

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE), a pioneer of modern physics and telescopic astronomy, was born near Pisa, Italy. His work would result in a methodological and epistemological revolution. His most important contribution to the development of science was the combination of mathematical philosophy with technology, which would lead to a new mechanistic world-view. Many of Galileo's theoretical developments found their origins in and also integrated the practical knowledge of contemporary craftsmen, architects and engineers (see also Galileo Engineer, by Matteo Valleriani). As Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996 CE) would put forward in his Tradition mathématique et tradition expérimentale dans le développement de la physique (1975), Renaissance humanism would provide technology with a theoretical framework which would give universal meaning to particular practical innovations of the artisans in terms of general theorems supplied by the mathematician-philosophers. The use of the telescope by Galileo combined with his mathematical philosophy would become part of this development. It would create the honète homme, open to new ideas, out of the artisans which collaborated with the mathematician-philosophers of the Renaissance.

In his youth Galileo attended the lectures of Ostilio Ricci (1540-1603 CE) on Euclid of Alexandria (fl. 300 BCE) and Archimedes (ca.287-ca.212 BCE). Ostilio Ricci was himself a former student of Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia (1499/1500-1557 CE), who had been the first to apply mathematics to the investigation of the paths of cannonballs. In 1581 Galileo entered the University of Pisa as a medical student, but he soon became interested in mathematics and left without a degree in 1585. In 1586 Galileo wrote a short treatise entitled La Bilancetta ("The Little Balance"), in which he presented his own theory based on Archimedes' Law of the Lever and Law of Buoyancy. This theory was presented as an alternative for the description Vitruvius (ca. 80/70 BC-after ca. 15 BCE) had given in De Architectura Libri Decem (Book IX). The statement of equilibrium says that if forces P and Q are at distances A and B, respectively, from the fulcrum (center), then: P*A = Q*B. This is known as the 'Law of the Lever', which means while a system is in equilibrium the clockwise forces about the fulcrum equal the counterclockwise forces. Galileo noticed that objects not only floated in water, but also in air. Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615 CE) also published an account of how Archimedes might have solved the Golden Crown problem in the 18th book of his work Magia Naturalis (Natural Magic) in 1589. After teaching privately at Florence, Galileo was made professor of mathematics at the University of Pisa in 1589, where he stayed until 1592. During his time at Pisa he started working on a book De Motu (1589, E: On Motion) in which he developed his early ideas concerning motion, but which he never published. De Motu was probably inspired by the work of Giambattista Benedetti, who in his works Resolutio omnium Euclidis problematum (1553) and Demonstratio proportionum motuum localium (1554), had proposed a new doctrine of the speed of bodies in free fall. Benedetti's view was that the speed of fall depends on just the difference between the specific gravity of the body and that of the medium. Galileo started developing ideas which contradicted the Aristotelian physics which states that there is no effect without a cause. Applied to moving bodies, this proposition dictates that there is no motion without a force. Speed, then is proportional to force and inversely proportional to resistance. Galileo started developing the idea that bodies of different weight still fell at the same speed. He came to reject that the absolute weight of a body determined the speed of its fall. Instead he put forward that the specific weight of a falling body in relation to the specific weight of the surounding medium (density) determined the proportion of speed and weight. In Aristotelian theory, the weight of the body itself causes its fall, not a force acting from the outside which has to overcome the resistance of the weight of the body. The ideas of Galileo would in the end prove to be right, but they would contradict the Aristotelian relation between nature, the senses and human perception by postulating a mechanism which contradicted Aristotle: inertia or motion without a force being applied upon a body (see also Francis Bacon and the Transformation of Early-Modern Philosophy, Stephen Gaukroger, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p.151).

In 1592, Galileo became professor of mathematics at the University of Padua, where he remained until 1610 CE. While in Padua he produced his geometric and military compass and other instruments for sale (see also Galileo's compass). The protection of the Republic of Venice, enabled the University of Padua to maintain some freedom and independence from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church ('Libertas scholastica'). The University of Padua had previously produced new directions in the interpretation of Aristotle influenced by the works of the famous Arabic philosopher Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198 CE). The leaders in this revival had been three professors at the University of Padua, Nicoletto Vernia (ca. 1420-1499 CE), Agostino Nifo (ca. 1470-1538 CE), and Marcantonio Zimara (ca. 1475-1532 CE). At the end of the 15th century, the Paduan Aristotelian Giacomo Zabarella (1533-1589 CE) in his De natura logicae and De rebus naturalibus (1590 CE) would identify logic with the operation of the world. Besides Averroes, Giacomo Zabarella would make use of the newly discovered Greek commentators on Aristotle, such as Alexander of Aphrodisias (fl. 200 CE), Philoponus (490-570 CE), Simplicius of Cilicia (ca. 490-ca. 560 CE) and Themistius (317-ca. 390 CE). He devoted much effort to presenting what he considered to be the true meaning of Aristotle's texts, which differed from the interpretation of the Scholastics. Zabarella would also distinguish between the 'demonstratio quia' ("demonstration that, or because") or 'demonstratio a posteriori' and 'demonstratio propter quid' ("demonstration on account of what") or 'demonstratio a priori'. A priori knowledge is knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori knowledge, which derives from experience. Dialectic for Zabarella was aimed at the production of opinion, and deals with probable and contingent material; demonstration is dedicated to the acquisition of truth, and so it is exclusively occupied with necessary, true objects. Zabarella believed that, by the force of induction, human intellect is capable of distinguishing the universal, which is hidden in particulars. Induction, or resolutive method makes up the first phase in the regressus-method (De Regressu), which was, in his opinion, the only proper method for natural philosophy. For Zabarella the regressus-method "is a sort of reciprocated demonstration such as that after we have demonstrated the unknown cause from the known effect ('demonstratio quia'), we convert the major premise and the demonstrate the same effect through the same cause, so that we might know why it is ('demonstratio propter quid')". The so-called regressus-method is a model for combining composition and resolution: the idea of this combinatory process is found in the Aristotelian tradition from Averroes on, and it was revived among the Italian Aristotelians. This revival predates the experimental method applied by Galileo in his observations, which still stood in the Aristotelian tradition of the University of Padua. Nevertheless in the end the Aristotelian method would dismantle the Aristotelian cosmos.

Galileo himself was deeply influenced by Archimedes's principles of statics (the theory of equilibrium in On the Equilibrium of Planes) which he expanded on for his discussion of moving bodies. When Aristotle's explanation for motion had failed, Galileo turned to Archimedes for an alternative working hypothesis which he felt obliged to verify through experimentation. In 1600 he published Le Meccaniche (On Mechanics) where he dealt with simple machines. He was the first to completely work out the dynamic theory of simple machines and showed the underlying mathematical similarity of the machines. He was the first to understand that simple machines do not create energy, only transform it. Greek scientists, like Archimedes and Hero of Alexandria (ca. 10-ca. 70 CE) had developed theories on the statics of simple machines, but did not yet understand the dynamics of these machines and the concept of work. Galileo succeeded in applying their work into the domain of dynamics, which had been the domain of Aristotelian physics (see also Galileo Galilei on Motion and on Mechanics Comprising De Motu and Le Meccaniche, Galileo Galilei, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1960 and The Cambridge Companion to Galileo, Peter Machamer, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 48 and Statics, Lawrence E. Goodman, William H. Warner, Courier Dover Publications, 2012, introduction).

Through his use of mathematics and physical experimentation, Galileo was able to formulate the Law of Fall in 1604, which is related to the Law of Inertia which he first formulated in 1612. By 1604 Galileo had formulated his basic law of falling bodies, which he verified by careful measurements. Late in 1604 a supernova appeared (Supernova 1604 or Kepler's Supernova), and Galileo became involved in a dispute with philosophers who held (with Aristotle) that change could not occur in the heavens. Applying the mathematics of parallax, Galileo found the star to be very distant, in the supposedly unchangeable regions of the cosmos, and he attacked Aristotelian qualitative principles in science. Galileo observed the supernova of 1604 and tried unsuccessfully to measure its parallax. According to Copernicus's theory, the Earth's motion must produce a parallax, but no such parallax was found until the discovery of the parallax of 61 Cygni by Friedrich Bessel (1784-1846 CE) in 1834. Since the telescope was needed to observe more closely the planets to prove the heliocentric theory and since Copernicus died before the invention of the telescope, it was up to Galileo to present the proof that a planet could orbit the sun. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) made improvements on the early telescope which had been developed in the Netherlands by Hans Lippershey (1570-1619 CE) and started his astronomical observations around 1608. Galileo at the time was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Padua, in the Republic of Venice. With his telescope Galileo discovered craters on the Moon, spots on the Sun, Moons of Jupiter, phases of Venus, and stars in the Milky Way. The four so-called Galilean moons of Jupiter, were the first objects found to orbit a body that was neither Earth nor the Sun. In March 1610 Galilei published his telescopic observations in the Sidereus Nuncius (The Starry Messenger). It contains the results of Galileo's early observations of the Moon, the stars, and the moons of Jupiter. The craters on the moon made clear that the moon was not a perfect sphere, but resembled the earth. This contradicted the Aristotelian view of the heavens as perfectly spherical and consisting of the fifth element (aether). These observations put into question the common world view shared by Galileo's contemporaries that heaven and earth operate by different laws. As a consequence of his observations it became clear that there is but one mechanics and dynamics operative both on earth and in the heavens. Galileo recognized the implications of this discovery for scholastic cosmology. Empirical observation of the sun, rather than deductions from authoritative universal principles, should determine the properties assigned to it. "For names and attributes must be accommodated to the essence of things, and not the essence to the names, since things come first and names afterwards". The sovereignty of "names" or categories over formless matter is the basis of Aristotle's teleological principle. Although Galileo did not explicitly question teleology, he refuted the mechanism on which it had traditionally been based and provided thereby the foundation for a mechanistic natural philosophy. His rejection of Aristotelian cosmology was not only based on his observations, but also on his philosophical views which tended towards Platonism. Paolo Beni (1552-1627 CE), also a professor at Padua, had written a commentary on Plato's Timaeus which he discussed with Galileo. Beni and Galilei discussed the philosophical consequences of Copernican heliocentrism (see also Galileo interprete del Timeo in Storia della scienza, storia della filosofia: interferenze, Guido Canziani ed., Franco Angeli, 2005, pp. 39-76 and Phenomenology and Theory of Science, Aron Gurwitsch, Lester E. Embree, Northwestern University Press, 1979, p. 51 and Galileo, Ficino, and Renaissance Platonism. in Humanism and Early Modern Philosophy, James Hankins, Jill Kraye ed., M.W.F. Stone ed., Routledge, 2000, pp. 209-237).

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the new cosmological developments. One of his colleagus at Padua, Cesare Cremonini (1550-1631 CE) together with Guilio Libri, Professor of Aristotelian Philosophy at Pisa, refused to look through Galileo's telescope and rejected his findings. Galilei dedicated the Sidereus Nuncius to Cosimo II de' Medici, fourth Grand Duke of Tuscany, and he named the four moons of Jupiter he had discovered the "Medicean stars". The Grand Duke of Tuscany made him court mathematician at Florence, freeing him from teaching to pursue research. His observations of the satellites of Jupiter created a revolution in astronomy because a planet with smaller planets orbiting it did not conform to the principles of Aristotelian Cosmology, which held that all heavenly bodies should circle the Earth. Galileo's observations allowed him to put natural law into mathematical formulas, a procedure that would greatly advance the scientific method and become the basis of modern mechanics. Johannes Kepler responded with enthusiasm, praising the significance of Galileo's observations with his own Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo (Conversations with the Starry Messenger) (1610). From September 1610, Galileo observed that Venus exhibited a full set of phases similar to that of the Moon. Galileo's announcement of his observations of the phase change of Venus was concealed as an anagram in a letter to the Tuscan ambassador of Prague and Johannes Kepler. Haec immatura a me iam frustra leguntur o y (These immature ones have already been read in vain by me -oy) is unscrambled to Cynthiae figuras aemulatur mater amorum (The mother of love, Venus, emulates the figures of Cynthia, the Moon). Natural philosophers (astronomers and others) of the 17th century transposed their discoveries into Latin anagrams, to establish their priority. In this way they laid claim to new discoveries, before their results were ready for publication. In the Ptolemaic system Venus should always be in crescent phase as viewed from the Earth because as it moves around its epicycle it can never be far from the direction of the sun (which lies beyond it), but in the Copernican system Venus should exhibit a complete set of phases over time as viewed from the Earth because it is illuminated from the center of its orbit. The observation of the phases of Venus by Galilei was among the most important in human history, for it provided the first conclusive observational proof that was consistent with the heliocentric Copernican system but not the geocentric Ptolemaic system, which now became untenable. This was the first empirical evidence (coming almost a century after Copernicus) that allowed a definitive test of the two models. Until that point, both the Ptolemaic and Copernican models described the available data. The primary attraction of the Copernican system was that it described the data in a simpler fashion, but here finally was conclusive evidence that not only was the Ptolemaic universe more complicated, it also was incorrect. The Tychonic system by Tycho Brahe (1546-1601 CE) had been put forward as an alternative combining the mathematical benefits of the Copernican system with the philosophical and "physical" benefits of the Ptolemaic system. The Tychonic world system became popular early in the 17th century among those who felt forced to reject the Ptolemaic arrangement of the planets (in which the Earth was the center of all motions) but who, for various reasons (e.g. theological), could not accept the Copernican alternative.

In 1612 Galileo published his Discorso intorno alle cose che stanno in su l'acqua o che in quella si muovono (E: Discourse on Floating Bodies), against Aristotle's theories of physics and with Archimedes' (ca.287-ca.212 BCE) laws of hydrostatics. Did the floating or failure to float of bodies in water depend on their individual forms, as the Aristotelians (Peripathetics) maintained, or on their different specific weights, as Galileo and Archimedes claimed. Galileo proposed an atomic theory in order to attack problems in hydrostatics. Atomic theory, Galileo believed, provided the best means by which to model physical phenomena in a way that is mathematically tractable. The fundamental conflict was between a mathematical approach to physics and a descriptive, dogmatic procedure lacking in method. Galileo was one of the first Europeans to observe sunspots in his Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno alle macchie solari e loro accidenti (E: Letters on Sunspots) (1613), which were also contradictory to the view of the perfect and impeccable model of the Ptolemaic and Aristotelian model of the Universe. In his treatise on sun spots, he re-confirmed Copernicus' theory. Galileo challenged Aristotle's theory that bodies can remain in motion only if there is some force acting on them; Galileo argued that no such force was necessary once the body was set in motion. This was the primitive notion of inertia that would inspire Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE). Galileo Galilei in his Letter to Benedetto Castelli of 21 December 1613 put forward his view on the relation between scritpure an science. Galileo accepted the inerrancy of Scripture; but he was also mindful of Cardinal Baronius's point of view that the bible "is intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go". And he pointed out correctly that both Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas taught that the sacred writers in no way meant to teach a system of astronomy. In 1615 in his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Lorraine Galilei stated "I hold that the Sun is located at the centre of the revolution of the heavenly orbs and does not change place, and that the Earth rotates on itself and moves around it". Galileo used an array of church saints to defend his investigations. Galileo hereby stated quite clearly that for him the Copernican theory is not just a mathematical calculating tool, but is a physical reality. Galilei had discovered arguments by Augustine in De Genesi ad Litteram to support his case, which he used in the Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Lorraine and in which he vigorously attacked the followers of Aristotle. In this work, he used some of Augustine's arguments, which he developed much further, to argue strongly for a non-literal interpretation of Holy Scripture when the literal interpretation would contradict facts about the physical world proved by mathematical science. Galileo certainly started with the assumption that the Holy Scriptures are true so there must be interpretations which agree with all scientifically proved theories. Galileo was not opposing Christianity and he felt that he was a devout Christian doing his very best to save Christianity from serious error. In his letter Galileo pointed out that the mathematical, quantitative, material cosmos had the distinct advantage of guaranteeing theologians immunity from the theses of physicists ("...that science should themselves undertake to undo their proofs and discover the fallacies in their own experiences, without bothering the theologians and exegetes..."). Also in 1615 he also wrote his Considerations on the Copernican Opinion, where he careful delineated scientific and religious concerns. In 1616 he published his theory on the tides in Discorso del flusso e reflusso del mare after his first condemnation by the Inquisition. Galileo was the first to deduce the cause of the uneven waning as light occlusion from lunar mountains and craters. The moon was no longer a translucent and perfect sphere consisting of the heavenly aether, as Aristotle had claimed.

In 1638, Galileo would publish his Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno à due nuove scienze on the strength of materials and the motion of objects. The physical experiments of Galilei proved principles contrary to which Aristotle had put forward in the Quaestiones mechanicae, such as the speed of falling bodies and non-linear movement in the sublunar sphere. The "Problem of the breaking strength of materials" (Problem XVI) of the Quaestiones mechanicae and the notion of 'individual limit of natural substances' is also discussed by Galileo. Aristotle had postulated minima, the theoretical limit of divisibility of substances, and therefore within European Aristotelianism, there was discussion about the meaning of this limit and in some quarters minima took on a corpuscular nature. In his discussion of cohesion, what holds matter together, Galileo puts forward the notion that objects are made up of an infinite number of infinitely small particles (atoms) held together by an infinite number of small vacua in the atomist tradition of Lucretius's De Rerum Natura. Galileo, in the process of inventing the mechanistic and materialistic world view, ousted purpose, or teleology altogether from science. This opposed the Aristotelian principle that the object's own innate tendency explains why an object falls to earth. Galileo stated that the natural state of objects is motion. He refuted the Aristotelian notion that things are naturally in a state of rest. He put forward that all physical objects must fall at the same rate when one subtracts wind resistance (e.g. the Apollo 15 feather and hammer drop experiment). He was the first to give mathematical expression to the falling object's acceleration and delineated the notions of speed or position, velocity and acceleration. Galileo's greatest contribution to physics was his formulation of the concept of inertia: an object in a state of motion possesses an "inertia" that causes it to remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it. This concept would form the cornerstone of Isaac Newton's (1642-1727 CE) First Law of Motion.

Both Copernicus and Galileo using mathematics, linked their scientific discoveries with Pythagoreanism (Mathesis) and Platonism as opposed to the Aristotelian (Thomistic) tradition of (Roman Catholic) Christianity. By Pythagoreanism, what is meant here is the philosophy which accepts three fundamental assumptions about the world:

  1. that the sun is at the center of a universe which is organized in the most simple and harmonious way possible
  2. that the planets move in circular paths, the circle being a form of perfection
  3. that the truth of things is to be found in number, and therefore the truth of nature is revealed through the science of mathematics
For Aristotle and Roman Cathoic theologians, quantity was only one of ten predicaments and not the most important. Nor was it congruent with the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. It was a world of matter in motion, knowable to the mathematician and alien to the man of ordinary sense perception. Underlying the conflict was a philosophical one between a Pythagorean view that finds truth in idealized mathematics, and a Christian-Incarnational view which affirms the unity of mind and matter, form and substance (hylomorphism).

The Catholic Church, despite later official hostility, was largely silent at first when De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was published. So long as Copernicus's ideas remained a mathematical argument (in Latin) among scholars and did nothing to threaten either the beliefs of the common man or the Church's ultimate authority in such matters, the Church had no need to respond. The Catholic Church, in a move against the ideas of Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE), had declared itself the only authority to interpret the Holy Scripture at the Council of Trent in 1546. The point at issue was whether Copernicus had simply put forward a mathematical theory which enabled the calculation of the positions of the heavenly bodies more simply or whether he was proposing a physical reality. During the first half of the seventeenth century, debate over the Copernican hypothesis had spread beyond the ranks of astronomers and had stirred up so much controversy, because its theological consequences became clear (crypto-Protestantism), that the Roman Catholic Church decided to intervene. Roman Catholic theology (Thomism) drew heavily from Aristotle (universals) and therefore any attack on the Aristotelian physics and philosophy posed a threat to the Roman Catholic Church. Concerning universals, the Church stood in the realist tradition ('in res'), while Galileo stood in the nominalist tradition ('post res').

Besides Jesuits such as Christopher Scheiner (1573-1650 CE) (sunspot-contoversy), some Dominicans opposed Galileo most strongly, such as Niccolò Lorini (1544-1617 CE) and Tommaso Caccini (1574-1648 CE). Lodovico delle Colombe (1565-1616 CE) from Pisa vehemently sought to engage Galileo in a conflict between science and scripture. Colombe had been the first to use the Bible as a weapon directly against Galileo in his Contro il moto della terra (1611). Joining Colombe's "Pigeon-League", Caccini delivered a sermon on Sunday 21 December 1614 (fourth Sunday of Advent) in Santa Maria Novella in Florence in which he strongly denounced Galileo and his followers and condemned the idea of a moving earth. He cited Joshua 10:12-13 to illustrate the contradiction that he believed existed between Scripture and Copernicanism. The Dominican Nicolò Lorini, read a copy of Galileo's Letter to Benedetto Castelli and was disturbed to find that Galileo had taken it upon himself to interpret Scripture according to his private lights. He sent a copy to the Inquisition in Rome - one, moreover, which had been tampered with to make Galileo's words more alarming than they actually were. The Consultor of the Holy Office (or Inquisition) nevertheless found no serious objections to the letter and the case was dismissed. The Dominican Preacher General, Father Luigi Maraffi, however wrote Galileo an apology, saying "unfortunately I have to answer for all the idiocies that thirty or forty thousand brothers may or actually do commit". Galileo insisted that the Copernican system had been proved beyond doubt and that the Church must reinterpret scriptural passages that contradicted it. This statement would in the end lead to the confrontation with the Roman Catholic Church. Caccini appeared in Rome uninvited, begging the Holy Office to testify against Galileo. His testimony before the Inquisition was a web of hearsay, innuendo, and deliberate falsehood. The judges of the Inquisition did not buy his story, and the case against Galileo was again dropped. However the Letter to Castelli and Caccini's testimony were on the files of the Inquisition, and Rome was now buzzing with rumors that the Church was going to condemn both Galileo and Copernicanism. Galileo did not back down, but only intensified his campaign to get the Church to accept Copernicanism as an irrefutable truth.

One of the major points of disagreement between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants was whether an individual could form their own interpretation of the Holy Scripture (the Protestant view) or whether, as the Roman Catholic Church argued and had stated clearly after the Council of Trent in 1546, everyone must accept the interpretation of the Holy Scripture made by the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo's arguments came too close to this touchy issue for the Catholic Church to be able to take no action. The Roman Catholic Church therefore found it could no longer treat these ideas with silence. In April 1615, Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621 CE) wrote a letter which amounted to an unofficial statement of the Church's position. He pointed out that it was perfectly acceptable to maintain Copernicanism as a working hypothesis and if there were "real proof" that the earth circles around the sun, "then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary...". Bellarmine's position was based on the sophistic distinction between abstract hypothesis and truth based on the observation of nature, a position in which the Church had taken refuge since the emergence of the new cosmological theories, concerned not with the appearances of the phenomena but with the credibility of Holy Scripture, given the glaring scientific errors that were beginning to be exposed in it. In 1616 Galileo was summoned to appear before the Inquisition in Rome. Since Thomas Aquinas' famous dicta on the subject, the church held the position that scripture was superior to science. Where science contradicted scripture, science was simply wrong. Humans were too limited intellectually to work out these contradictions, which the church viewed as illusions. Scriptural interpretations were not to be called into question, but hypothetical speculation could advance. On 16 February 1616, the Inquisition asked a commission of theologians, known as qualifiers, about the propositions of the heliocentric view of the universe. The commission condemned helicoentrism on theological arguments which seem to have been made more to defend Aristotle's physics than to defend the Holy Scripture. They stated that the Copernican doctrine is "foolish and absurd, philosophically and formally heretical inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the doctrine of Holy Scripture in many passages...". This verdict was fortunately overruled under pressure of more cautious Cardinals and was not published until 1633, when Galileo forced a second showdown. A milder decree, which did not include the word "heresy", was issued and Galileo was summoned before the Holy Office. Pope Paul V (Camillo Borghese) (1550-1621 CE) instructed the Jesuit cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621 CE) to deliver this result to Galileo, and to order him to abandon the Copernican opinions; should Galileo resist the decree, stronger action would be taken. Bellarmine was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation and the same man who had interrogated Giordano Bruno and was responsible for his condemnation and execution. Robert Bellarmine had put forward his view on the universe in the Medieaval and Aristotelian tradition in his work Ascensus mentis ad Deum per scalam creaturarum (1615). On 26 February 1616, Galileo was called to Bellarmine's residence where there were also some Dominicans present, and accepted the orders. At Galileo's request Bellarmine gave him a written certificate which made clear Galileo's own position. It declared that he was forbidden to hold Copernican views but, strangely, an alternative version would be produced 17 years later which also said that Galileo was forbidden to teach the Copernican theory. Galileo was given an affidavit by Bellarmine stating that he must no longer hold or defend the propositions that the earth moves and the sun doesn't. Another document, however, which was unsigned (and therefore perhaps of questionable accuracy), stated that the Commissary of the Inquisition, in the name of the pope, ordered that Galileo could no longer hold, defend or teach the two propositions. This second document was not given to Galileo. The inclusion of teaching was a crucial difference, because it meant Galileo couldn't even describe the Copernican system. On 5 March 1616, the decree was issued by the Congregation of the Index, prohibiting, condemning, or suspending various books which advocated the truth of the Copernican system. For a few years Galileo would stay out of trouble. In 1616 Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639 CE) wrote his Apologia per Galileo (Defense of Galileo), while he was still in prison, which is a defense of the libertas philosophandi of Galileo and, more generally, of all Christian natural philosophers, whose first right and duty is to give preference to reading the book of nature over studying the books written by human beings. With great clarity, Campanella identifies the nub of the problem as the unjustified dogmatic value conferred on Aristotelian philosophy which, like all human doctrines, does not possess absolute and definitive certainty. All philosophies, in fact, must be modified, corrected or abandoned in light of our reading of the book of nature. In this brief work he draws on his immense theological knowledge to rethink in a profound and lucid manner the relationship between philosophy, science and theology. Campanella defended the Copernican system and the separate paths of Scripture and nature to knowledge of the Creator. He argued that truth about nature is not revealed in Scripture and claimed freedom of thought in philosophical speculation.

Part of the controversy between the geocentric and heliocentric model was the discussion between scientific realism and instrumentalism with regard to the heliocentric system. When the De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was published, Andreas Osiander (1498-1552 CE) added a preface suggesting that the model described in the book was not necessarily true, or even probable, but was useful for computational purposes. The heliocentric system was merely an instrument but not reality. Problems would arise when Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) would claim scientific realism for the heliocentric model. Scientific realism could lead to theological relativism, which of course is unacceptable when a literal interpretation of the Bible is adhered to instead of an allegorical interpretation of the Bible (see also Beyond Reason: Essays on the Philosophy of Paul Feyerabend, Gonzalo Munévar, Springer Science & Business Media, 2012, p. 245 and Philosophy: A Text with Readings, Manuel Velasquez, Cengage Learning, 2016, p. 457 and Science Teaching, Michael R. Matthews, Routledge, 22 dec. 2015).

Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo
- Galileo Galilei, Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (1632) -

In 1619 Galileo became involved in a conflict would which become the "Controversy on the comets". In October 1623 Galileo published Il Saggiatore (E: The Assayer) in Rome in which Galileo insisted that physics should be mathematical and it also contains the Pythagorean statement that mathematics is the language of God. Galileo mixed biting polemic against his opponents, with groundbreaking methodological and philosophical assumptions. Il Saggiatore was intended as another attack against the Jesuit astronomer named Horatio Grassi (1583-1654 CE), who in On the Three Comets of the Year 1618 (1618) had suggested that the comets orbited the earth (not the sun) and this provoked Galileo (first using one of his students) into an attack on the scientists of the Collegium Romanum (Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana) (1619). Grassi had written The Astronomical and Philosophical Balance as a response to the attacks of Galileo and his friends. Il Saggiatore was Galileo's reply to The Astronomical and Philosophical Balance. According to Galileo only through mathematics can one achieve lasting truth in physics. Those who neglect mathematics wander endlessly in a dark labyrinth. Il Saggiatore not only stressed that quantification was the route to true knowledge of physical reality, it abandoned the Aristotelian stress on the qualitative aspects of bodies. Galileo argued that secondary qualities (like color and taste) were just names given by people to the impressions that bodies made on their senses. Science should concern itself only with the size, shape and relative motion of objects. Galileo's mechanical philosophy undermined key aspects of traditional Aristotelianism. Aristotle had differentiated between matter and form; a table, for example, was made of wood (its matter) but was only a table because of its "substantial form" (its tableness). Galileo's theory ignored form. Aristotle's philosophy was teleological, it considered "final causes", the final cause of an object falling to the earth was its purpose, like that of all bodies, of moving to earth. Galileo's theory posited matter in motion, blindly responding to universal physical laws.

In Il Saggiatore, Galileo also mentions 'particella minima' or 'corpicelli minimi', thereby avoiding calling them atoms. Atomism was in ill repute as a doctrine as it had unacceptable theological implications such as for the doctrine of transubstantiation of the eucharist defined by the Concilium Tridentinum in its thirteenth session ending 11 October 1551 (Session 13, Canon 2, Chapter IV). In Il Saggiatore Galilleo argued that tastes, smells, colours, and sensations such as tickling, were precisely that subjective sensations produced in us by an ulterior world of colourless, odourless, particles. It was also well known that Galileo correlated the sensation of heat with the motion of corpuscles. This departure from an Aristotelian theory of matter (hylomorphism) was theologically dangerous because it compromised an essential element in Catholic worship, the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The language of transubstantiation made sense in terms of a theory of matter that sharply distinguished between substance and form. There could be a miraculous change of substance without change in the external appearance of the bread or wine. Aristotelian hylomorphism could easily account for the seemingly paradoxical fact that the bread and wine used for the Eucharist continued to look and taste like bread and wine (even though it was supposed to be actually the blood and flesh of Christ). On the corpuscular view, however, the external appearances depended on the ulterior structure and arrangement of particles. A miraculous change in the substance would have sensible consequences. Atomism therefore was perceived as contradicting transubstantiation, since atomism seemed to deny that the blessing could change the nature of the atoms (Galileo Heretic by Pietro Redondi in 1983). Its Platonic and Pythagorean philosophy was incompatible with the Aristotelian doctrine of transubstantiation of the Eucharist. An anonymous cleric filed a report with the Inquisition in which he claimed the first citation to show that Galileo was an atomist and the second to be in conflict with the Council of Trent's pronunciations on the Eucharist, but without consequence for Galileo.

In 1623 an old friend, Maffeo Barberini, became Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644 CE) and Galileo published his Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (E: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems), which would bring him once again into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo naturally thought that he could get the decree of 1616 lifted. Urban gave several private audiences to Galileo, during which they discussed the Copernican theory. The Dialogue was published in 1632 in Florence under a formal license from the Inquisition and it rose to great popularity. It was an account of conversations between a Copernican scientist, Salviati, an impartial and witty scholar named Sagredo, and a ponderous Aristotelian named Simplicio, who employed stock arguments in support of geocentricity. Simplicio is supposed to be named after Simplicius of Cilicia (ca. 490-ca. 560 CE) one of the last Neoplatonists and the last great philosopher of pagan antiquity. Galileo used his colleague at Padua University, Cesare Cremonini (1550-1631 CE) and Lodovico delle Colombe (1565-1616 CE) as the main prototypes for the character Simplicio. Galileo stated "To this end I have taken the Copernican side in the discourse, proceeding as with a pure mathematical hypothesis and striving by every artipee to represent it as superior to supposing the earth motionless-not, indeed absolutely, but as against the arguments of some professed Peripatetics. These men indeed deserve not even that name, for they do not walk about; they are content to adore the shadows, philosophizing not with due circumspection but merely from having memorized a few ill-understood principles". Galileo grossly miscalculated Urban's tolerance by writing the great Dialogue. There he not only made it clear that he considered the defenders of Aristotle and Ptolemy to be intellectual clowns, but he made Simplicio, one of the chief interlocuters of the dialogue, into a silly mouthpiece for Urban's views on cosmology. Galileo was mocking the very person he needed as his protector, a pope whose hubris did not take such barbs with equanimity. At the same time, Galileo alienated the Jesuit order with his violent attacks on one of its astronomers, Horatio Grassi, over the nature of comets. The pope took the narrow path in the Galileo affair because the (Thirty Years') war against the Protestants was going badly, he was losing the allegiance of some nations, and he felt the need stamp out dissent wherever possible. Convinced and insulted that the Simplicio character represented him, Urban banned Galileo's Dialogue and ordered him to Rome for a hearing before the Holy Office of the Church. With the loss of many of his defenders in Rome because of the Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633. He referred to Cardinal Bellarmino's letter of 1615 allowing "hypothetical" discussion of Copernicus' theory. He was confronted with an alternative version of the ruling of 1616, which was an unsigned document. Galileo still had in his possession the certificate Bellarmine had signed and given him in 1616, although Bellarmine had died in 1621 so could not clarify the difference between the two versions. By the legal standards of today one would expect the alternative version stating that Galileo was forbidden to teach the Copernican theory to be overruled. Galileo's accusation at the trial which followed was exactly that he had breached the conditions of this unsigned alternative version. The truth of the Copernican theory was not an issue therefore; it was taken as a fact at the trial that this theory was false. This was logical, of course, since the judgement of 1616 had declared it totally false. This time he was convicted on legal grounds for having ignored the conditions imposed on him at his first trial in 1616 as stated in the alternative version. He was condemned on 22 June 1633 and Galileo would return to his villa at Arcetri near Florence, where he spent the remainder of his life under house arrest.

In 1616 the Church officially declares that the heliocentric theory is "philosophically false and at least an erroneous belief." The geometrical benefits of the Copernican system were in conflict with the philosophical benefits of the Ptolemaic system. De Revolutionibus was officially banned. Galileo at his trail is believed to have said after being forced to recant his belief that the Earth moves around the Sun, "Eppur si muove", before the Inquisition and he thereby rejected the divine Aristotelian order and the status of the earth in favor of the divine (Pythagorean) position of the Sun (Sol). Their heretic philosophical ideas brought both Copernicus and Galileo into conflicht with the Roman Catholic Church, whose philosophy was based on Aristotelianism (Thomism). Underlying the conflict between science and religion was a philosophical one between a Pythagorean view that finds truth in idealized mathematics, and a Christian-Incarnational view which affirms the unity of mind and matter, form and substance. The problem between the Roman Catholic Church and science was not caused by the scientific discoveries as such, but the contamination of philosophy and religion with new or deviant philosophical ideas such as Neoplatonism and Pythagoreanism which conflicted with Aristotle and Thomism. Church opposition to heliocentrism would only end in 1835 when Galilei's Dialogue and Copernicus's De Revolutionibus were finally dropped from the Roman Catholic Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

Galileo's attempt to interpret Scripture in a Platonic and Pythagorean sense met with resistance as have the attempts of theologians who disagreed with the majority view in the Church councils. The question of authority and right to interpret Scripture was a central one for the Catholic Church in that period. The struggle with the Protestants was at its peak, and at the very heart of the conflict was the question of the authority to interpret Scripture. While the Catholic Church bases its interpretation on tradition and the decisions of the theologians, the Protestants claimed that Scripture should be read directly and that any person can understand them. They rejected the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Against the background of this bitter battle with the Protestants, the Catholic Church fiercely resisted any attempt at independent interpretation. Historians generally assume that this decision and the subsequent condemnation of Galileo had such a devastating effect that scientific progress in Catholic countries was greatly retarded. When Canon Settele, Professor of Astronomy at Rome, in 1820 wanted to publish a book in which the Copernican system was taken for granted. The Master of the Sacred Palace, Anfossi, as censor of the press, refused to allow the book to be printed unless Settele revised his work and treated the Copernican theory as merely a hypothesis. On this Settele appealed to Pope Pius VII, and the Pope referred the matter to the Congregation of the Holy Office. At last, on the 16th of August, 1820, it was decided that Settele might teach the Copernican system as established, and this decision was approved by the Pope. This aroused considerable discussion, but finally, on the 11th of September, 1822, the cardinals of the Holy Inquisition graciously agreed that "the printing and publication of works treating of the motion of the earth and the stability of the sun, in accordance with the general opinion of modern astronomers, is permitted at Rome". This did not yet mean that the Holy Inquisition endorsed Copernicanism as an established fact, nor do they suggest that they agree with works asserting Copernicanism. They only thing they stated was that they allowed works to be published that are in accord with the "general opinion of modern astronomers". This decree was ratified by Pius VII, but it was not until thirteen years later, in 1835, that there was issued an edition of the Index from which the condemnation of works defending the double motion of the earth was left out. The parallax of fixed stars, shown by Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846 CE) for 61 Cygni, as well as other noted astronomers in 1838, clinched forever the doctrine of the revolution of the earth around the sun, and in 1851 the great experiment of Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (1819-1868 CE) with the pendulum showed to the human eye the earth in motion around its own axis.

Protestants did not accept the heliocentric theory at first either, but as they rejected Aristotle as part of their religous reform there was one hurdle less to take. They held Augustine as their more important theological source, which also made it easier to accept the Platonic arguments of the new science. Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE) could not accept the heliocentric theory because it was contrary to his common sense and his interpretation of the Bible (e.g. Josh. 10: 12, Ps. 104, Job 34) just as the Roman Catholic Church did. Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560 CE), who presided over the curriculum at the University of Wittenberg, eventually accepted the importance of teaching Copernicus's ideas, perhaps because Osiander's preface made the work more palatable. The Copernican view was at first accepted by Protestants as a hypothesis, but not the truth. The printing of Copernicus's manuscript was by his close friend Tiedemann Giese (1480-1550 CE) (bishop of Kulm) entrusted to Copernicus's pupil Georg Joachim Rheticus (1514-1574 CE), who entrusted it to the Lutheran theologian and preacher Andreas Osiander (1498-1552 CE). When Copernicus had written Osiander about his misgivings in publishing such a radical view, Osiander had advised him to present his hypothesis that the earth moves as only a basis for calculation, not a matter of truth. The Lutheran influence on the development of science was generally positive. Luther, and also John Calvin (1509-1564 CE), rejected the idea that religious vocations are superior to secular ones (in contrast with Roman Catholicism). Men and women should serve God by performing honest and useful work with diligence and integrity. Scientific work reveals God's handiwork in a universe which is both rational and orderly. It also gives results that can be used for the benefit of mankind.

Johannes Kepler and mathematical astronomy

Harmonices Mundi
Harmonices Mundi of Johannes Kepler (1619).

It was with astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571-1630 CE) that the Alexandrian/Pythagorean mathematical tradition made its most spectacular triumph at the end of the late Renaissance and the dawn of the modern era, in Kepler's discovery of the three laws of planetary motion. Kepler was one of the first advocates of Sun-centred cosmology, as put forward by Copernicus. Kepler's laws are the basis of our understanding of the Solar System, and such scientists as Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) built on his ideas. Kepler was born in Weil der Stadt in Baden-Württemberg, and studied at Tübingen. Kepler became an assistant to astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601 CE) in Prague, and would use Tycho's astronomical results to develop his own theories of astronomy. Kepler also became the imperial mathematician to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612 CE) and his two successors Matthias (1557-1619 CE) and Ferdinand II (1578-1637 CE). In 1572 Tycho Brahe observed a new star in the constellation Cassiopeia, which would become SN 1572 or Tycho's Supernova. Tycho published his observation in his De nova et nullius aevi memoria prius visa stella in which herefuted the Aristotelian belief in an unchanging celestial realm. The supernova SN 1604 in the constellation Ophiuchus, also known as Kepler's Supernova was observed by Kepler in 1604, who published the De Stella Nova in Pede Serpentarii, et ... ... Trigono Igneo about the phenomenon. These observations would challenge the unchangeable and perfect Aristotelian celestial structure. Kepler's most important works are the Platonic Mysterium cosmographicum (1596 CE), the Astronomia nova (1609 CE) and the Harmonices Mundi (1619 CE) in which he discusses harmony and congruence in geometrical forms and physical phenomena. A Platonist, Kepler was a mathematical mystic. He believed that "everything in nature is arranged according to measure and number". He was convinced that "the geometrical natures of things have provided the Creator the model for decorating the whole world." Within Kepler's religious view of the cosmos, the Sun (Sol, a Pythagorean symbol) was the source of motive force in the solar system and which was at the center of the Solar system as with Copernicus. Kepler was an extremely sincere and pious Lutheran, but suffered no persecution for his open avowal of the sun-centered system. As a Lutheran working in areas controlled by Catholics, he suffered pangs of conscience when forced to make compromises. As a Lutheran Protestant, he was expelled twice from Graz, where he had been teaching; then from Prague in 1612; then from Linz, Austria, from where he moved to Ulm. His other domestic problems included the unsuccessful prosecution in Wittenberg 1618 of his mother for witchcraft.

The Astronomia nova (1609 CE) provided strong arguments for heliocentrism. Kepler's discovery of gravitation as a force (leaving the concept of the anima mundi) placed the sun at the center of the world, not geometrically, but physically. Copernicus's use of the mean sun as the center ("putting his trust in Ptolemy") is only geometrically heliocentric: the mean sun and not the physical sun is the center of the earth's orbit. Kepler demonstrated that the question of the position of the sun is not one of preference among a pantheon of equivalent geometric systems (as was the case with Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Brahe), but of substantial change: he proves the existence of crucial physical experiments to demonstrate conclusively that he is right. In the Astronomia nova Kepler first mentions the elliptical path of the planets and changes the cause of their movement to the movement of free floating bodies as opposed to objects on rotating spheres. In his Astronomia nova and the Harmonices Mundi Kepler published his "Three Laws of Planetary Motion":

  1. The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci. (abandoned the Pythagorean and Copernican circles)
  2. A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.
  3. The square of the orbital period of a planet is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.
The third law states that period2 is proportional to distance3. This was algebraically the most sophisticated law discovered up to that point. The common physical relations are linear or inverse square. But Kepler's third law is not so simple, because it involves the 3/2 power. Kepler called the period the "sesquipotence" of the distance, which means 3/2 power. Kepler's most influential work in introducing the heliocentric theory to a broad audience was his Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae (E: Epitome of Copernican Astronomy), published in the years 1618-1621. The first three books are devoted to the "Doctrine of the Sphere". In 1627 Kepler would publish the Tabulae Rudolphinae a star catalogue and planetary tables, based on observation data collected by Tycho Brahe (1546-1601 CE) Based on these tables the transit of Mercury would be observed by Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655 CE) in 1631 and a transit of Venus observed by Jeremiah Horrocks (1618-1641 CE) in 1639. Jeremiah Horrocks systematized Kepler's laws of planetary motion. He observed the transit of Venus in 1639, which confirmed the prediction that Kepler had made many years earlier. His observations were published in the treatise Venus in sole visa in 1662.

Mysterium cosmographicum
Mysterium cosmographicum model with the Platonic solids of Johannes Kepler (1596 CE).

Motivated by a belief that divine harmonies animate the celestial order (e.g. the Platonic solids and the planetary orbits in the Mysterium cosmographicum), Kepler finally proved Plato's assumption that there was an elegant mathematical order underlying planetary motion despite the seeming, observed irregularities of retrograde motion. In this way, Kepler reconciled the mathematical science of the Greeks-and the Pythagorean spirit-with an absolutely rigorous empiricism that became the hallmark of modern physics. In the process however the Pythagorean harmony of the spheres perished (elliptical not circular orbits) in astronomy and classical physics, although Kepler discovered physical harmonies in planetary motion. The Pythagorean harmony would reappear in nuclear physics with the Bohr model for the atom, with its circular orbits for the electrons, introduced by Niels Bohr (1885-1962 CE) in 1913.

Early Modern Science


The ideological upheavals which were caused by the discoveries which started with Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) succeeded in unsettling centuries old ideas from the European tradition of natural philosophy. In the radical uncertainty which followed, only the unambiguity of a pure mathematical mechanicalism would in the end gain sufficient acceptance to emerge as the new dominant paradigm. In order to save man form the determinism which resulted from this mechanical world-view, philosophers like René Descartes (1596-1650 CE) would come up with a dualist solution in order to uncouple man from the consequences of determinism for free will. The Age of Enlightenment came after the Renaissance, but there is some overlap in the early 17th century. The 17th century Age of Reason or Age of Rationalism opened the avenues to the decisive steps towards modern science, which took place during the 18th century 'Age of Enlightenment' with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716 CE) and Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE). The rationalist René Descartes (1596-1650 CE) and the empiricist Francis Bacon (1561-1626 CE) were the leading scientists of the 'Age of Reason'. The publication by Isaac Newton of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica on 5 July 1687, established the unification of the physico-mathematical model of the earth and the universe (see also The Cambridge History of Science: Volume 5, The Modern Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Roy Porter, Mary Jo Nye, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 451 and Philosopher at Work: Essays, Yves René Marie Simon, Rowman & Littlefield, 1999, p. 34 and Free Will: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction, Ilham Dilman, Routledge, 2013, p. 124).

The open universe

During the 'Age of Reason' the final destruction happened of the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic "closed world" and its replacement by the open, infinite universe of the modern scientific paradigm. 'Up to the Renaissance the world was thought to be bounded by a distant but finite sphere, the empyrean heaven, beyond which must be the realm of the divine. As science started to discover the true nature of the stars, the planets, and the heavens, natural philosophers came up with new models of the universe. In the process they had to try to explain a number of very obvious everyday phenomena like gravity, force, and mass, and some not so intuitive, such as infinity and relative motion' (From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe by Alexandre Koyré, 1957). During the 17th century there was a rebellion against the Scholastic abstraction and dogmas. Both the Continental rationalists (e.g. René Descartes) and Britisch empiricists (e.g. Francis Bacon) agreed that the classical rationalism of Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE) had become a dead end for (natural) philosophy. The newly developed mechanical natural philosophy also revived the old mechanical principles (atomism, causality) of the pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus (ca. 460-370 BCE). The empiricists would found their natural philosophy on sensationalism (empiricism) and the rationalists on mathematics (innate ideas) (see also Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science, Richard DeWitt, John Wiley & Sons, 2011, p. 167).

From vitalism to the mechanical world view

The 16th and 17th centuries marked a period of transition between the vitalistic ontology that had dominated Renaissance natural philosophy and the early modern mechanistic paradigm that was endorsed by Cartesian natural philosophers, among others. Vitalism has been generally regarded as the view which claims that 'vital forces' or 'vital spirits' are causally operative in nature, and that the presence of 'vital force' or 'vital spirit' marks the difference between organic and inorganic matter. Vitalistic descriptions of natural phenomena tend to be qualitative, and vitalistic processes tend to be viewed as holistic and teleological. Vitalism had dominated natural philosophy during the 15th and 16th centuries as a result of the Neoplatonic and hermetic traditions that informed Renaissance culture. This would change into a mechanistic and quantititative mathematical view on reality at the end of the Scientific Revolution. 'Mechanism', or the mechanical philosophy, would put forward the view "according to which matter is inert and all interactions in nature are produced by the impact of particles". Mechanical philosophy is, therefore, anti-vitalistic and anti-teleological, since it assumes that "nature is not the manifestation of a living principle but is a system of matter in motion that follows mathematically precise laws ... the explanation of natural phenomena excludes all reference to vital forces or final causes". The journey from vitalism to mechanism starts at the beginning of the Scientific Revolution and ends in the 19th century. (see also De Mechanisering Van Het Wereldbeeld, Eduard J. Dijksterhuis, Amsterdam University Press, 2006 and Vitalism: Its History and Validity, Leonard Richmond Wheeler, H.F. & G. Witherby Limited, 1939).

The growth of the modern mechanical world view

Physical reality had always been the domain of natural philosophy based on postulated 'first principles' from which a consistent world-view was constructed. Mathematics had only built hypothetical and abstract models based on axioma', but no all-inclusive world-view from 'first principles'. Observation and empirical research did not have the status it has today. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630 CE) started the explanation of the physcial world and cosmology in mathematical terms connected to physical reality instead of using mathematics only as a hypothetical model. Paracelsus (1493-1541 CE) pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. His most important work is De Natura Rerum (1537). Paracelsus helped to transform 16th century alchemy by giving it an essentially medical identity, and he made this the basis for the development of an alchemical epistemology. He still fits very well within the Renaissance tradition of natural philosophy and natural magic to the extent that the theoretical framework upon which his work relies is staunchly vitalistic and not only posits the existence of vital forces and spirits but also fully affirms the theory of correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm. Paracelsus was influenced by Ficino and "placed special emphasis on semina (semina rerum), which he considered as invisible spiritual forces and as archetypes". Paracelsus's chemical philosophy was based upon three fundamental principles: His theory of prime matter, his theory of elements, and his theory of principles. Paracelsus's approach was also solidly empirical and so contained the fundamental elements of what would later become modern chemistry and modern scientific method. He believed in the Greek concept of the four elements (materia prima), but he also introduced the idea that, on another level, the cosmos is fashioned from three spiritual substances: the tria prima of mercury, sulfur, and salt. He took an approach different from those before him, using this analogy not in the manner of soul-purification but in the manner that humans must have certain balances of minerals in their bodies, and that certain illnesses of the body had chemical remedies that could cure them. By understanding the chemical nature of the tria prima, a physician could discover the means of curing disease. Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564 CE) with his book De humani corporis fabrica libri septem did empirical research on human anatomy, which undermined the Galenic principles of medicine which had been established by Claudius Galenus (129-ca.200 CE). These pioneers made the first step towards a change in scientific understanding of the world.

With the rationalism of René Descartes (1596-1650 CE) science was founded on new principles. His most important works are the Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la vérité dans les sciences (1637) with its essays, the Dioptrics, Meteorology La Géométrie and the Principia philosophiae (1644) intended to replace the Aristotelian textbooks then used in universities. Descartes put forward a world of matter possessing a few fundamental properties and interacting according to a few universal laws. He postulated his first pricniple "Cogito Ergo Sum" (E: I think/know therefore I am, cogitare meaning 'to know') from which he deduced a new model of reality. Descartes formulated the modern version of the mind-body problem. The essence of matter is extension (res extensa), and the essence of mind is thought (res cogitans). With this dualist solution he releases the human soul from the determinism of mathematical physics. He postulated elementary particles of which all matter consisted and which were moving in vortices from which he explained motion. Mathematical proof for his natural philosophy he did not provide. The differences between the methods of Descartes and Bacon are many and deep, but there are also many things they have in common. Although René Descartes with his deductive and rationalist approach differed from Francis Bacon with his inductive and empirical approach to science, they both agreed that science should progress without the bounds and chains of authorities from the past and dogma. Both of them advocated the complete overthrow of all the methods and most of the results of the authorities that came before them. Both of these men demanded a new standard of precision, since there were so many examples of sloppy reasoning and observation that littered the path of the science of the past. There was also a common commitment to doubt in general and a concern about the "deceptions of the senses". Descartes' method was a "top down" approach, whereas Bacon's was "bottom up".

Descartes wanted to replace the "mentally" (teleological) influenced depiction of physical qualities in Scholastic natural philosophy with a theory that requires only the properties of extension to describe the manifest order of the natural world. Descartes provide the first distinctly modern formulation of laws of nature and a conservation principle of motion, but he also constructed what would become the most popular theory of planetary motion of the late seventeenth century. His theory on planetary motion was based on the geometric extent of matter and the existence of vortices. A vortex, for Descartes, is a large circling band of material particles. In essence, Descartes' vortex theory attempts to explain celestial phenomena, especially the orbits of the planets or the motions of comets, by situating them (usually at rest) in these large circling bands. The entire Cartesian plenum, consequently, is comprised of a network or series of separate, interlocking vortices. Foremost among the achievements of Descartes' physics are the three laws of nature (which, essentially, are laws of bodily motion). Descartes declared that motion and rest are primitive states of material bodies without need of further explanation, and that bodies only change their state when acted upon by an external cause (principle of inertia). His physics was based on the theory of the atomists.

Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655 CE), a French priest, is one of the fathers of modern empiricism, the mechanical philosophy, and relations of modern philosophy to ancient and medieval discussions. Gassendi would be one of the founders of modern atomism and causation, inspired by De Rerum Natura of Lucretius and the works of Epicurus, the Ancient Sckeptics and Stoics. In the Epicurean form atomism was incompatible with Christianity, because atomism views matter as independent of God, either because it exists from eternity and denies creation by an Intelligent Designer, or because its motions and events are independent of control by a Sovereign Being. The Epicurean atomistic view is opposed by the Judeo-Christian worldview with its underlying assumptions, the chief of these being the Law of Cause and Effect. Gassendi attempted to make atomism respectable by modifying it so that it did not conflict with Christianity. Thus, instead of insisting on the eternity of atoms, Gassendi has God create the atoms. Gassendi was also a nominalist and opposed the theory of universals, on the grounds that we cannot perceive anything more than particulars in the world. His most important works are the anti-Aristotelian Exercitationes paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos (1649), the Animadversiones (1649) and the posthumous Syntagma Philosophicum (1658), both on Epicurean logic, physics and ethics. In the Exercitationes Gassendi rejected Aristotelianism, partly because it was incompatible with atomism and also rejected Aristotelian scholasticism. In the Animadversiones Gasendi, like Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae (1265), put forward the empiricist maxim "nihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu" thereby promoting a moderate or Pyrrhonian skepticism as opposed to Descartes' attempts to refute skepticism entirely. In the Syntagma Philosophicum Gassendi attempted to find a middle way between skepticism and dogmatism.

In the beginning the vortex theory was regarded as superior to Newton's theory of universal gravitation since it did not posit a mysterious, occult quality (gravity) as the cause of the planetary orbits or the free-fall of terrestrial objects. But in the end it would be superseded by Newtonianism. Based on his observations of how resistant nature is to a vacuum, Descartes deduced that all particles in nature are packed together such that there is no void or empty space in nature. The work of Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647 CE) and Blaise Pascal (1623-1662 CE) on the barometer would undermine the Cartesian (Aristotelian) "horror vacui" and create the need for a new theory of physics.

Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri (1667-1733 CE) was an Italian Jesuit priest, scholastic philosopher, and mathematician. He wrote Euclides ab omni naevo vindicatus (1733) a treatise on Euclidean geometry. In it he dealt with non-euclidean geometry, although he did not see it as such, rather an attempt to prove the parallel postulate of Euclid of Alexandria (fl. 300 BCE). It was only the second work on non-euclidean geometry after Umar Khayyam's (1048-1123 CE) treatise Explanation of the Difficulties in the Postulates of Euclid concerning the fifth postulate. The philosophical consequences of non-euclidean geometry however, were not yet clear. The essence of Euclidean geometry lies in the combination of its logical skeleton and the meaning attached thereto (truth-value). Non-euclidean geometry would in the end make clear that a mathematical system is only a logical skeleton, to which meaning may or may not be attached. The axioms of the system are not asserted to be true, they are simply assumptions. The theorems are not asserted to be true either; they are simply what follows when you make these assumptions about these undefined terms. And no one guarantees that the application of any particular mathematical system to the real world will yield any true or useful results. Euclidean geometry however was still part of the world-view of the Enlightenment and its trust in human reason. Enlightenment philosophers and scientists still believed in the principle that pure reason could lead to results of absolute certainty and great practical usefulness. The Enlightenment had been a reaction to the rise and successes of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The spectacular achievement of Isaac Newton in particular engendered widespread confidence and optimism about the power of human reason to control nature and to improve human life. One effect of this new confidence in reason was that traditional authorities were increasingly questioned. For why should we need political or religious authorities to tell us how to live or what to believe, if each of us has the capacity to figure these things out for ourselves? Non-Euclidean geometry would shatter this unerring authority of natural reason, after mankind already lost its belief in the traditional authorities of Scholasticism (see also Girolamo Saccheri's Euclides Vindicatus, Girolamo Saccheri, George Bruce Halsted, American Mathematical Soc., 1986 and Great Muslim Mathematicians, Mohaini Mohamed, Penerbit UTM, 2000, p. 104 and A History of Non-Euclidean Geometry: Evolution of the Concept of a Geometric Space, Boris A. Rosenfeld Springer Science & Business Media, 2012, p. 64 and The Non-Euclidean Revolution, Richard J. Trudeau Springer Science & Business Media, 2009 and From Alexandria, Through Baghdad: Surveys and Studies in the Ancient Greek and Medieval Islamic Mathematical Sciences in Honor of J.L. Berggren, Nathan Sidoli, Glen Van Brummelen, Springer Science & Business Media, 2013, p. 105 and The Unreasonable Influence of Geometry, Doug Muder).

The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge

Frontispiece to Sprat's History of the Royal Society
Frontispiece to Sprat's History of the Royal Society (1667).

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
- Alexander Pope - Essay on Criticism -

European universities kept to the old Aristotelian science as they feared the theological consequences of the emerging experimental and mathematical science. The scientific revolution therefore would find its way outside the confinements of the university system. In 1660 The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge was founded out of the Invisible College and the Hartlib Circle which had met in Oxford and Londen before. The Royal Society started from groups of physicians and natural philosophers, meeting at variety of locations, including Gresham College in London. The Royal Society was founded when twelve men met at Gresham College after attending a lecture on 2 November 1660 by Christopher Wrenn (1632-1723), the Gresham Professor of Astronomy. The founders of the Royal Society were influenced by the new science, as promoted by Francis Bacon (1561-1626) in his Nova Atlantis (1624) where he put forward the idea of a modern research institute and which he called Salomon's House, from approximately 1645 onwards. The Royal Society would play an important role in promoting the new empirical science as opposed to the still largely Aristotelian science at the universities of the time. The Society's motto, 'Nullius in verba', (E: Take nobody's word for it) was an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment. This motto parallels Francis Bacon's (1561-1626 CE) thoughts as written in Sylva Sylvarum: or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries (1631) that "philosophical dogma must be replaced by inductive reasoning coupled with physical experiment". The philosophical underpinnings of the Royal Society differed drastically from previous philosophies such as Scholasticism, which were still commonplace at the universities in that time. The Académie des sciences was founded in 1666 by king Louis XIV (1638-1715 CE) of France at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683 CE). Both the The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge and the Académie des sciences were meant to produce usefull results for the benefit of society and the king. An important goal was to discover a means of determining the precise longitude when at sea.

Jan Baptist van Helmont (1579-1644 CE) did several experiments and thereby systematically built upon empirical research, most notably his his 5-year tree experiment. Robert Boyle (1627-1691 CE) 'The Father of Chemistry' began the practice of reporting his experiments in great detail so that others could replicate them. Robert Boyle was a dedicated experimenter, unwilling to construct abstract theories to which his results had to conform. In Of the Atomicall Philosophy (ca. 1652-4) he expressed his atomistic ideas. Boyle proposed that elements are basically composed of corpuscles (minima naturalia) of various sorts and sizes capable of organising themselves into groups and that each group constitutes a chemical substance. In his book The Sceptical Chymist (1661), Boyle attacked Aristotle's and Paracelsus's theories. In the Considerations touching the Usefulness of Experimental Natural Philosophy (1663) he expressed his ideas about Experimental Natural Philosophy. Robert Boyle opposed the view of ancient Greek philosophers who had claimed that the adequate understanding of a particular subject can be achieved only when its nature, or essence, is properly defined. In The Origin of Forms and Qualities (1666) and Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Receiv'd Notion of Nature (1686) Boyle attacked the predominant scholasticism and Aristotelianism of the period and put forward the superiority of mechanical explanations of phenomena. Boyle recognized, after Mersenne, the value of mechanical explanations of natural processes for overcoming the threat of popular pantheistic atheism "by preserving the proper distinction between rational humanity and stupid matter".

Chemical philosophers, like van Helmont and Boyle adhered to complicated ontologies that only slowly and gradually shifted from a vitalistic point of view to a naturalistic and physicalistic, albeit non-mechanistic, account of chemical qualities and operations. For much of the 17th century, chemical philosophers adopted a view of matter that was both corpuscular and vitalistic. William Harvey (1578-1657 CE) was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart in his work Concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood (1653). He still regarded the heart as the sun of the human microcosm: 'The Heart of creatures is the foundation of life, the Prince of all, the Sun of their Microcosm, on which all vegetation does depend from whence all vigor and strength does flow. Likewise the King is the foundation of his Kingdoms, and the Sun of his Microcosm, the Heart of his Common-wealth, from whence all power and mercy proceeds'. But Harvey also continued the dismantling of the Galenic principles of medicine by empirical research. It was his colleague Robert Fludd (1574-1637 CE) who wrote the first defense of Harvey's new theory in his work Pulsus seu nova et arcana Pulsuum historia on the grounds of microcosmic symbolism (see also Integrum Morborum Mysterium: Sive Medicina Catholica, Volume I, Wolfgang Hofmann, Frankfurt, 1631, Vol. I, Tractate II, Section II, Portion III, Part III and Robert Fludd and the End of the Renaissance, W. H. Huffman, Routledge, 1988, p.234 and William Harvey's Biological Ideas, W. Pagel, Karger Publishers, 1967, p. 366).

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677 CE) published his work the Tractatus theologico-politicus (TTP) (1670 CE) in which he defended the "Libertas Philosophandi" (liberty to philosophize) or the freedom of the natural philosopher. Spinoza showed that the freedom to philosophize can not only be granted without injury to piety and the peace of the Commonwealth, but that the peace of the Commonwealth and Piety are endangered by the suppression of this freedom to philosophize. Spinoza's ultimate intention in the TTP was to reveal the truth about Scripture and religion, and thereby to undercut the political power exercised in the states of his time by religious authorities. Spinoza also defended, at least as a political ideal, the tolerant, secular, and democratic polity.

Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695 CE) would be the first theoretical physicist as he was the first to use formulas in physics. With Huygens the mathematical approach of Galileo would be combined with the vision of the ultimate design of nature. Huygens clarified phenomena of impact, centripetal force and the first dynamical system ever studied - the compound pendulum in his Horologium Oscillatorium sive de motu pendulorum (1673). The Royal Society elected Huygens a member in 1663. In the year 1666, Huygens moved to Paris where he held a position at the French Academy of Sciences under the patronage of Louis XIV. Huygens conceived the theory that light consists of waves as opposed to the theory of Newton who stated that light consists of particles. A solution of the particle-wave dualism of matter would have to wait for quantum physics to arrive.

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723 CE) was a Dutch tradesman, who is commonly known as "the Father of Microbiology", and considered to be the first microbiologist. Leeuwenhoek is best known for his work on the improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology. Robert Hooke (1635-1703 CE) would publish his Micrographia: or, Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses. With observations and inquiries thereupon (1665), in which he coined the term cell for describing biological organisms. The telescope had opened a view on the heavens (macrocosm) and the microscope would open up the microcosm for empirical study. Empirical science could only flourish when provided with the observational power of the new instruments which were being developed to extend the observational capacity of man. Empiricism would first an foremost flourish in England with the Royal Scoiety, while Cartesian rationalism would dominate Continental science far longer (see also Principles of Modern Microbiology, Mark Wheelis, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2011, p. 11 and Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses, with Observations and Inquiries Thereupon, Robert Hooke, Courier Corporation, 2003).

Isaac Newton and the triumph of mathematical science

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica
Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica of Isaac Newton (1687).

Numero pondere et mensura Deus omnia condidit.
- Isaac Newton - after Pythagoras -

To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age.
Tis much better to do a little with certainty and leave the rest for others
that come after than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of any thing.
- Isaac Newton - Statement from unpublished notes for the Preface to Opticks (1704) -

It was Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) who would give the final blow to Aristotelean physics. Two approaches to science developed, the inductive and the deductive method. The inductive scientific method was devised by Francis Bacon, while the deductive method was defined by René Descartes. Isaac Newton combined the two methods and claimed that reliable theory is derived from the correct combination of both the inductive and deductive methods. The inductive method involved empirical observation, systematic experimentation, experimental evidence and inductive reasoning - a theory making process devised by Francis Bacon. Bacon's inductive method was effective within the framework of the paradigm based on the notion that the understanding of the physical world depends on understanding its determinate laws of cause and effect i.e. 'determinism'. The deductive method was a theory-making process defined by René Descartes, who had created the conceptual framework for seventeenth century science with his view of nature as a perfect machine - a view which remained a vision during his lifetime. The deductive method involved deduction from first principles... deductive reasoning, systematic interpretation and mathematical analysis (see also A Brief History of the Western World, Thomas H. Greer, Gavin Lewis, Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1997, p. 416).

Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) combined the two methods and claimed that reliable theory is derived from the correct combination of the both inductive and deductive methods. Experimental evidence of the inductive method should be combined with the systematic interpretation by deduction from first principles i.e. deductive logic from a given premise. Newton combined deductive or connexive logic from a given premise with inductive reasoning from empirical observation and from the combination he derived a tentative premise known as a 'hypothesis'. The hypothesis had to be substantiated with evidence in order to become a thesis. It had to be tested with empirical observation and experiment to be validated. This goes beyond the classical point of view that only logic starting from premisses can lead to truth (definition), while observation can only lead to an assumption (hypothesis). A thesis was either a hypothesis or a definition (see also Analytica Posteriora, Aristotle, i, 72a and Aristotelian logic, William T. Parry, Edward A. Hacker, State University of New York, 1991, p. 528 and The logic of science, Edward Poste, Francis Macpherson, 1850, p. 139). Arguments derived from physics were deemed inferior in their "truth-value" from arguments derived from premisses and therefore could never lead to truth as such (see also Logic: The Question of Truth, Martin Heidegger, Indiana University Press, 2010, p. 108 and Knowledge and Demonstration: Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, Orna Harari, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004, p.75). The physical level had been clearly separated from the metaphysical level and logic, which now, through mathematics, became connected. The job of the scientist was to be an 'objective' observer, measure the objects, and then explain the causes for their interactions. This was how the (divine) laws of nature were thought to be discovered. In unifying the two methods Newton developed the methodology upon which natural science has been based ever since and which we now know as the 'scientific method'. Newton taught that the quest for the further understanding of reality would only be possible if it were based on the notion that the universe is governed by laws which can be understood rationally and which can be applied experimentally as well. Isaac Newton included his heuristic method for testing a hypothesis, based on four "Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy", in the 1714-edition of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (see also The Logic of Discovery: A Theory of the Rationality of Scientific Research, S. Kleiner, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993, p. 14 and Isaac Newton on mathematical certainty and method, Niccolò Guicciardini, The MIT Press, 2011, p. 5). Newtonian science looked upon the physical universe as giant mechanism and obeying scientific laws (see also The Newtonian Revolution, I. Bernard Cohen, Cambridge University Press, 1980 and Philosophical Perspectives on Newtonian Science, Phillip Bricker, R.I.G. Hughes, The MIT Press, 1990). Newtonian mechanics allowed to dispense with purposes, goals and ends as properties that pre-Newtonian science invoked to explain the behavior of physical systems (see also Philosophy Of Science: A Contemporary Introduction, Alex Rosenberg, Routledge, Routledge, p. 81).

Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) was born in 1642, the year when Galileo Galilei died. His most important works are De motu corporum in gyrum (1684), the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (5 July 1687) and the Opticks (1704). The publication of the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) by Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) marked the dawn of modern science and played an important part in the ancient conflict between Plato (Deduction, Mathematics, Pythagoras) and Aristotle (Induction, Empiricism). The publication of the Principia was the grand finale of the cosmological renewal which had started with the De revolutionibus orbium coelestium of Copernicus and the work of Galileo and Kepler. Newton would create the grand synthesis between the Alexandrian (Pythagorean) and Athenian (fist principled based) branches of natural philosophy. Newton used the Latin word gravitas (weight) for the effect that would become known as gravity, and defined the law of universal gravitation. Newton postulated universal gravity as an invisible force able to act over vast distances. This led to him being criticised for introducing "occult agencies" into science. For this reason others had rejected this kind of force in their natural philosophy. Newtonian mechanics, including the aspects developed by Galileo and others, was at least as revolutionary as Einstein's theory. In the West at least, ideas about mechanics had previously been dominated by the writings of Aristotle. For Aristotle, the 'natural' state of matter was at rest (with respect to the Earth). For Galileo and Newton, the 'natural' state of matter could be said to be constant velocity. For Aristotle, there is no need to ask why common objects come to a stop: that is their natural state. Rather, there is a need to ask why some objects (eg planets) keep moving. For Aristotle motion was an intrinsic property of matter, while for Isaac Newton motion was a secondary property derived from changes in the primary entities space and time (v=dx/dt).

Newton in his first law of motion stated that every body perseveres in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed thereon. In his second law he stated that the alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impressed. Finally in his third law he stated that to every action there is always opposed an equal and opposite reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts. The gravitational force the earth exerts on the moon equals that exerted by the moon on the earth. According to Newton's analysis, the possible orbits in a gravitational field can take the shape of the figures that are known as conic sections. For the ellipse (and its special case, the circle), the plane intersects opposite 'edges' of the cone. For the parabola the plane is parallel to one edge of the cone; for the hyperbola the plane is not parallel to an edge but it does not intersect opposite 'edges' of the cone. Only ellipses (and their special case, the circle) lead to bound orbits; the others are associated with one-time gravitational encounters. For a given central force, increasing the velocity causes the orbit to change from a circle to an ellipse to a parabola to a hyperbola, with the changes occurring at certain critical velocities. Newton's third law also plays a role in the the 'weak anthropic principle': if you find that the universe has laws and/or conditions that allow the existence of a being such as yourself, then you should not be surprised.

In his Hypothesis of Light (1675), Newton had postulated the existence of the ether to transmit forces between particles. In his Opticks (1704) Newton argued that light is composed of particles or corpuscles, which were refracted by accelerating into a denser medium.

The structure of Newtonian physics - scientific knowledge organized as a series of mathematical laws - (mathematical philosophy) became the model for all sciences. Newton expressed the mathematical relationships of measurable quantities, but did not attempt to explain the nature of things such as the nature of gravity (Hypothesi non fingo). In the beginning Newtonianism (empiricism combined with mathematics) had to compete with both Cartesianism (rationalism), and the Baconian tradition of fact gathering and suspicion of Euclidean or geometric reasoning or "mathematical magic" (Mathesis). In his posthumously published manuscript De Gravitatione et Aequipondio Fluidorum (probably written around 1670) (On the Gravity and Equilibrium of Fluids), Newton patiently attempts to refute many of the central notions in Descartes's Principia Philosophiae. Newton propounded his doctrine of absolute space and time in order to refute Descartes's theory of motion (radical relativism). Descartes's radical relativism had set the stage for the later development of relativistic mechanics, as well as for the Newtonian doctrine of absolute space and time. In the De Gravitatione Newton wanted to construct a mechanical science on firmer foundations than those proposed by Descartes. De Gravitatione marked Newton's definitive abandonment of the metaphysical implications of mechanical or Cartesian philosophy. It also marked the moment when Newton went beyond the substantial form in an Aristotelian sense. The Newtonian clockwork universe also lead to mechanistic determinism, which was put forward by Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827 CE) with his omniscient demon for whom past, present and future are equally real in a Newtonian mechanistic universe (see also Philosophical Theories of Probability, Donald Gillies, Routledge, 2012, p. 14).

With Copernicus, Galileo, and finally Isaac Newton the Platonic/Pythagorean (Alexandrian) mathematical model of the universe had replaced the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic model. Both Plato and Pythagoras thought that mathematics would reveal the inner nature of things. The force of gravity (and all forces) acted causal and not teleological upon inert matter from without. The gravitational force itself, for Newton was the product of an active principle, a spiritualization of the Stoic pneuma, a divine immaterial substance, permeating everything and aware of everything. Newton with his gravitational theory created a synthesis of the rationalism (mathematical approach) of René Descartes (1596-1650 CE), the law of inertia of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE), the third law of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630 CE), the pneuma of Stoicism, the Neo-Epicurean atomism of Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655 CE) and the Cambridge Neoplatonism of Henry More (1614-1687 CE). His philosophical sources were largely Platonists who contributed to the modern world-machine paradigm, but who stuck to some version of the Platonic 'anima mundi'. By the acceptance of Newton's cosmology the old binary world-picture based on Aristotelian tradition was finally dismantled and replaced, and with it the idea of the Aristotelian qualitative teleological principle. Isaac Newton attempted, however, to retain as much of the Platonic/Pythagorean (Alexandrian) mathematical teleology to support the existence of a present God, active in the processes of the natural world. Because universal gravity can easily be interpreted as a property of matter, it tended to support deism. The perceived religious heterdoxy of his work would woul meet with resistance, as with John Hutchinson (1674-1737 CE) in his Moses's Principia (1724) who opposed to the Newtonian system of gravitation. The intellectual and popular philosophical and theological upheavals of the previous two centuries had dismantled the idea of any authoritative account of universal causality (Aristotelian primum movens), and what was retained of Newton in modern history, as with Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543 CE), Galileo and Kepler before him, was his mathematical methodology now uncoupled from its metaphysical connection from which Isaac Newton had developed his ideas.

Vicenzo Galilei (ca. 1520-1591 CE) and Marin Mersenne (1588-1648 CE) had done experiments on the theory of Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 495 BCE) on the inverse ratio between pitch and string length. Marin Mersenne in his Harmonie universelle (1636), stated that though Pythagoras was right about the inverse ratio between pitch and string length, in the experiment with the weights on the strings the tension must be quadrupled, not doubled, to produce a tone an octave higher. That is, the ratio between pitch and string tension varies inversely as the square of the tension on the string (inverse square law). Isaac Newton saw in this his own inverse-square law between the gravitational attractions ("weights") of the planets falling towards the sun and their distances ("string lengths") from it. Newton in the General Scholium, added to Book III of the Principia, insisted Pythagoras himself knew the inverse-square law, but had hidden from the vulgar such mystical "square" secrets beneath his simple arithmetical ratios. Besides Pythagoras, Newton in his philosophy was influenced by Atomism, Platonism, which he knew through Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE-50 CE), the Renaissance Hermeticists and the Cambridge Neoplatonists. Another influence was the Stoa (pneuma), which he knew through Philo of Alexandria and Justus Lipsius (1547-1606 CE), the founding father of Neostoicism.

Besides a brilliant scientist, Isaac Newton was also a anti-Trinitarian heretic and alchemist (Newton, the Man (1946) by John Maynard Keynes). His friend and assistant, the huguenot John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744), a demonstrator for the Royal Society was a prominent Freemason and third Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England in 1719. In discovering the causes and effects of the natural world Newton, as well as other natural philosophers of the time, hoped for science to come upon a "first cause" and hence a general, moral science. He expounded upon this in one of his latter works, "The Queries" which were included in Book 3 of his Opticks (1704): "And if natural philosophy in all its Parts, by pursuing this Methods, shall at length be perfected, the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will also be enlarged. For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature". This Newtonian search for a "first cause" through (mathematical) natural philosophy and (empirical) scientific work laid the foundations for the great scientific revolutions and discoveries during the Enlightenment.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716 CE) was one of the great thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Leibniz stood in the Cartesian and (Spanish) Scholastic tradition. Leibniz stood in the rationalist tradition of continental philosophy and science as opposed to the Anglo-Saxon empirical tradition. He used a scholastic and rational approach by applying reason to first principles or prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence. Together with Isaac Newton, Leibniz discovered calculus and became involved in the famous Leibniz-Newton calculus controversy over who had first invented calculus. Leibniz opposed the new model of the universe which Newton proposed. Most of the debate went on between Leibniz and Samuel Clarke (1675-1729 CE), a friend of Newton and became known as the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence. Leibniz objected to the concept of Newtonian gravitation which he had postulated as 'action at a distance', meaning that two bodies would affect each other gravitationally even without being in contact and without anything whatsoever mediating that contact. Gravity was something that was nothing in itself that nevertheless exerted a force invisibly across a complete void. Another part of the dispute was between the absolute theory of space favoured by Newton and Clarke, and Leibniz's relational (Cartesian) approach. The arguments about the theory of Newton which Leibniz put forward, would slowly lose their power as the Newtonian theory became the dominant paradigm. However with Ernst Mach (1838-1916 CE) (Mach's principle) and Albert Einstein (1879-1955 CE) the relativist view would replace the absolute model of Newton.

Modern Science

Le savant doit ordonner; on fait la Science avec des faits comme une maison avec des pierres;
mais une accumulation de faits n'est pas plus une science
qu'un tas de pierres n'est une maison
- Henri Poincaré, (1854-1912) -

The developments of modern science have increasingly reduced the absolutism of first principles upon which philosophy can build its axioms. The relativity of Einsteinian physics and the uncertainty principles of quantum physics have led to new philosophical developments. The deterministic Newtonian clockwork universe made place for an everchanging reality driven by physical laws based on a non-deterministic stochastic process.

Time versus eternity and the cosmological position of the world

The relativity of first principles is not the same as relativism, which is more suitable for the disjunction between classical philosophical and theological certainties and its instantiation in reality. The interaction between science and philosophy is not the same as scientism as philosophical principles do not grow in a test-tube, but philosophy should be capable to embrace science albeit at a higher level than just the practical and daily instantiation of scientific activity.

Big Bang
- Big Bang theory -.

While Isaac Newton - (1642-1727 CE) supposed that the universe could not have come into existence without divine intervention and that God needed to adjust the course of the planets now and then, this would change with Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (1749-1827). The nebular hypothesis of the origin of the earth was first proposed in 1734 by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772 CE) in Prodromus Principiorum Rerum Naturalium (1734) (De Chao Universali Solis) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE), who was familiar with Swedenborg's work, developed the theory further in 1755. Immanuel Kant argued that gaseous clouds (nebulae), which slowly rotate, gradually collapse and flatten due to gravity and eventually form stars and planets.

Concerning the problem of the eternity of the world and rational cosmology, Kant would come up with the concept of "a priori" "regulative Ideen" ("reine apriorischen Vernunftbegriffe", regulative ideas) in the Appendix to the Transzendentale Logik of his Kritik der reinen Vernunft. The problem of time and eternity of the world ("Anschaungsformen", space and time) is one of Kant's four antinomies where reason gives rise to sets of opposing arguments. He realized that this problem could either lead to extreme scepticism or empiricism ("Skeptizismus", Epicurean) or dogmatism ("Dogmatismus", Platonic). Extreme scepticism would lead to resignation from an attempt to come to a conclusion concerning the problem of the eternity of the world. Dogmatism would lead to rigidity with regard to a postulated position. Kant would develop a philosophy of science which dealt with this problem and would call its principles "Kritizismus". Metaphysics leads to antinomies when we apply our conceptual scheme transcendentally, beyond the realm of phenomena to noumena. We have a natural disposition to apply our conceptual scheme transcendentally, because this would allow us to achieve an overarching unified interpretation of reality, and to give a firm foundation to morals and religion. But it is a mistake; an analysis of the human person shows that we cannot know things in themselves. Moreover, when you try to break down the phenomenal/noumenal distinction, you get antinomies (contradictions), in the sense that contradictory knowledge claims seem to be equally certain. This is the notorious problem of the "arbitrariness of metaphysics" and has more than anything else served to create a mood of skepticism surrounding metaphysics. Preserving the distinction, and keeping knowledge to the phenomenal world, avoids the antinomies of pure reason altogether. This is different from the approach taken by the Pre-Socratic philosophers which applied their physical principles to metaphysics, without making a distinction between the phenomenal and noumenal plane. By postulating a rigid and unconditional causality also transcendentally, they had to reject an non-eternal universe. The argument is that knowledge of essences of things is impossible, so traditional metaphysics is also impossible. The best that can be done is to inquire as to the conditions for the possibility of our experience, in the course of which inquiry certain of the essential ideas of traditional speculative metaphysics are reconstituted as regulative ideas for inquiry. We can distinguish between constitutive ideas ('as is' statements) and regulative ideas ('as if' statements). A constitutive idea, or hypothesis, is a statement of what actually happens in reality (see also Kant's constitutive-regulative distinction, Stanley G. French, The Monist Vol. 51, No. 4, Kant Today, Part II (October, 1967), pp. 623-639). Constitutive ideas are those ideas which can be founded on science (phenomena, empirical), while regulative ideas (noumenal, non-empirical) about the universe cannot. Discussions which mix-up constitutive and regulative arguments are futile as the truth-value and validity between them is different. A world-view therefore has important consequences for the discussion about the conditionality or unconditionality of human existence and morality. The question is upon which unconditionality the conditionality of human existence can be founded. When accepting the creation or non-eternity of the world, one accepts that the conditional existence of the world depends on something unconditional outside the universe. The world does not contain its unconditionality in itself, it is not self-causational.

Laplace developed the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system in his work L'exposition du système du monde (1796) and in his five volume work Mécanique Céleste (1799-1825). The theory would become known as the Kant-Laplace-hypothesis. After reading his work Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821 CE) asked Laplace "Votre travail est excellent mais il n'y a pas de trace de Dieu dans votre ouvrage", Laplace answered him "Sire, je n'ai pas eu besoin de cette hypothèse". Laplace also solved the great Jupiter-Saturn inequality and proved that no divine interference was required to keep the solar system going. The modern theory for the origin of the earth nowadays is the Solar Nebular Disk Model (SNDM) which was put forward by Viktor Sergeevich Safronov (1917-1999 CE) in his work Evolution of the Protoplanetary Cloud and Formation of the Earth and the Planets (1969). Georges Lemaître (1894-1966 CE) in Un Univers homogène de masse constante et de rayon croissant rendant compte de la vitesse radiale des nébuleuses extragalactiques (1927) and The Beginning of the World from the Point of View of Quantum Theory (Nature 127, 1931) put foward the hypothesis of the primeval atom which would become known as the Big Bang theory. Vesto Melvin Slipher (1875-1969 CE) was the first to observe the shift of spectral lines of galaxies, making him the discoverer of galactic redshifts. Edwin Powell Hubble (1889-1953 CE) would come forward with the observations of the expanding universe, which supported Lemaître's Big Bang theory and which became knwown as Hubble's law (Lemaître's Law). On 22 November 1951 Pope Pius XII surprisingly declared at the opening meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, that the Big Bang theory does not conflict with the Catholic concept of creation ex nihilo. At the time the theory itself was in crisis as it had some problems in explaining the creation of all the elements. Ralph Asher Alpher (1921-2007 CE) and George Gamow (1904-1968 CE) wrote the Alpher-Bethe-Gamow paper on the origin of chemical elements. They developed the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) theory and tried to solve the problem of the generation of the elements, which was somewhat problematic in the Big Bang theory of Lemaître. Later on it was recognized that most of the heavy elements observed in the present universe are the result of stellar nucleosynthesis in stars. Ralph Asher Alpher also predicted the cosmic background radiation. The existence of the cosmic background radiation and its temperature were measured experimentally in 1964 by Arno Penzias (b. 1933 CE) and Robert Wilson (b. 1936 CE), which was the final proof for the Big Bang theory.

Geology would also lead to new insights, which would question the age of the earth which was deduced from Genesis. Niels Stensen or Nicolas Steno (1638-1686 CE) was one of the founders of modern stratigraphy and modern geology with his work De solido intra solidum naturaliter contento dissertationis prodromus (1669) in which he put forward the "law of superposition" and the "principle of original horizontality". His theory that the fossil record was a chronology of different living creatures in different eras was a sine qua non for Darwin's theory of natural selection. Several scientists would obtain different results for the age of the earth, both from sediments (Neptunists) and thermal effects (Vulcanists). William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907) would calculate the age of the earth based on the laws of thermodynamics and in 1864 he estimated the Earth's age to be from 20 to 400 million years old. He ultimately settled on an estimate that the Earth was 20-40 million years old. New theories would emerge, but the Biblical age of the earth was no longer accepted. When geology changed the view on the age of the earth, it was still believed that life itself was too complex to come into existence without divine intervention.

Time versus eternity and the cosmological position of man

Big Bang
- Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,
or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) -

Darwin's theory of evolution has introduced the concept of time and change into philosophy and thereby changed our view on eternity and the position of man in nature and time. Man became part of an interrelated network, interacting with a biological and physical environment. Change has become an intrinsic property of life and not just a deviation from an ideal and unchanging physics. Reality has become a dynamic and everchanging equilibrium driven by stochastics. Organic chemistry and genetics (human genome project) have brought the mechanistic world-view to biology and replaced vitalism. The stochastic nature of evolution and quantum physics put an end to the deterministic worldview of classical biology and Newtonian physics (see also The Scientist as Philosopher: Philosophical Consequences of Great Scientific Discoveries, Friedel Weinert, Springer Science & Business Media, 2005 and Philosophy of Physics, Elsevier, 2006).

The Augustinian friar Gregor J. Mendel (1822-1884 CE) in 1866 published his Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden (1866) (Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn, Bd. IV für das Jahr, 1865 Abhandlungen:3-47) in which Mendel demonstrated that the inheritance of certain traits in pea plants follows particular (mathematical) patterns, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance (cfr. the Pythagorean idea of mathematics underlying reality). In 1798 Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834 CE) anonymously pubished An Essay on the Principle of Population in which he stated that sooner or later population gets checked by famine and disease. Thomas Robert Malthus put forward the principle of the the struggle for life and the Iron Law of Population. The essay would have a strong influence on both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in developing the theory of natural selection. Charles R. Darwin (1809-1882 CE) in 1859 published his book On the Origin of Species on evolution by means of natural selection and which became the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Anaximander (c.610-546 BCE) had postulated the development of life from non-life and the evolutionary descent of man from animal in his poem On Nature. For Anaximander, the world had arisen from an undifferentiated, indeterminate substance, the apeiron. The Earth, which had coalesced out of the apeiron, had been covered in water at one stage, with plants and animals arising from mud. Humans were not present at the earliest stages; they arose from fish. Jean-Baptiste de la Marck or Lamarck (1744-1829), already had proposed the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws and which became known as Lamarckism (or Lamarckian inheritance). Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) independently of Darwin proposing a theory of evolution due to natural selection, based on selection of species instead of individual selection. Charles Darwin however brought something new to the theory of evolution - a plausible mechanism called "natural selection" working upon the individual level. Darwin's general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) "descent with modification". That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In 1871, Darwin examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. He would coin the term "survival of the fittest" in Principles of Biology (1864). In The Principles of Ethics (1879-93) Spencer would connect evolutionary moral psychology with the principle of equal freedom as an ultimate principle of justice, where well-being flourishes and utilitarian liberalism would spread. Social evolution favors cultures that internalize utilitarian maxims intuitively. Darwin first used Spencer's new phrase "survival of the fittest" as a synonym for natural selection in the fifth edition of On the Origin of Species, published in 1869.

Darwinism stirred a controversy as soon as its implication became clear that man descended from a lower species, which had a profound influence on the foundations of morality for Christians. Man was no longer the chosen one, the first and most noble part of creation. The expanding universe and the increasing age of the earth of the scientists, has moved man away from the center of God's creation to an outskirt in space and an accident of natural selection. Although Darwinism was capable to explain the findings of extinct animals such as dinosaurs, Christians were not easily convinced. Arguments against Darwinism are mostly argumentum ad ignorantiam which asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is "generally accepted" (or vice versa). This of course represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false (e.g. Bertrand Russell's teapot). The flood was considered to provide an explanation for the extinction of animals. Dinosaurs were compared to the Behemoth and then the sea-monster Leviathan, both mythological beasts mentioned in the Biblical Book of Job, 40:15-24. The young earth hypothesis was put forward as an alternative to the ever increasing age of the earth found by geologists and paleontologists. The problem that not every species could fit in Noah's Ark of the Book of Genesis 6-9, was solved by putting forward that only the genera were on the boat and that later on by a kind of evolution the individual modern species came into existence. Irreducible complexity (IC) is used as an argument that complex forms cannot evolve out of simpler ones, such as the evolution of the eye as a classical example. Intelligent design (ID) is the latest creationist challenge to Darwinism and popular among evangelical Christians. Today the Roman Catholic Church's unofficial position is an example of theistic evolution, also known as evolutionary creation (see also Magisterium Is Concerned with Question of Evolution for It Involves Conception of Man by Pope John Paul II to to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 22 October 1996 CE). The discussion between Creationism and Darwinism shows that when the religious realm tries to play the game of science, it loses the discussion. The scientific level and causative argumentation is not the way or level to put forward a religious viewpoint. Trying to beat science on the conditions of the scientific method does not work for religion and those wise enough to understand this should refrain from this pitfall.

Vitalism and organic chemistry

Vitalism remained an important principle to make a distinction between matter and living organisms. Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1882 CE) with the synthesis of urea, an organic substance, made clear that organic substance could be synthesized. This discovery has become celebrated as a refutation of vitalism, the hypothesis that living things are alive because of some special "vital force". His synthesis of urea worked to destroy vitalism in chemistry, but the destruction of vitalism in evolution, physiology, psychology, and the humanities, in general, took some time. In 1845 Emil du Bois-Reymond (1818-1896 CE), Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894 CE), and Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke (1819-1892 CE) founded the Physikalische Gesellschaft (Physical Society) in Berlin. They embarked on a program of physical physiology or mechanistic materialism in medicine against the theory of vitalism. Helmholtz, Reymond, and Brucke, of the so-called Helmholtz school, were behind the 1842 Reymond-Brücke oath, namely a vow of allegiance to the view that only physicochemical forces, in opposition to any and all "life force" or vitalism theories, operate in organisms. Central to their approach was the universal theory of the conservation of force, which was later incorporated into the first law of thermodynamics. All living organisms, including humans, are essentially energy-systems to which, no less than to inanimate objects, the principle of the conservation of energy applies. In 1842 Emil du Bois-Reymond and Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke formulated their materialistic principle in the following way: "We pledge to put in power this truth: no other forces than the common physical chemical ones are active within the organism. In those cases which cannot at the time be explained by these forces one has either to find a specific way or form of their action by means of physical mathematical method, or to assume new forces equal in dignity to the chemical-physical forces inherent in matter, reducible to the force of attraction and repulsion.". Soon after du Bois-Reymond and Brücke drafted this Reymond-Brücke oath, Helmholtz and Carl Ludwig (1816-1895 CE) joined in, and as legend has it they each signed it with their own blood. In short, the group "pledged a solemn oath" to eschew all nonmaterial explanations of organisms, physiologically, mentally, or operationally. Second, they agreed that the only way the scientist could learn about these forces was through experimentation and observation. Although no one objected to scientific materialism in the physical sciences, the closer one came to psychology, the greater the general opposition would be, mainly on religious and ethical grounds according to Max Wertheimer (1880-1943 CE). Sigmund Freud (1856-1939 CE), one of Reymond-Brücke's students at the medical school at Vienna, later used the theory of the conservation of force in his view on psychic energy and thereby viewing the human personality as an energy-system. Ludwig Büchner (1824-1899 CE) based his masterpiece of materialism, Kraft und Stoff (1884 CE), on the new discoveries in physics, chemistry, geology, and biology, which incorporated Darwin's recently published theory of evolution. For the 19th materialists the assumptions of materialism reached beyond empirical science, though never beyond physical reality. They, like their materialistic predecessors, postulated that material or natural reality formed an unbroken material continuum that was eternal and infinite. In addition they rejected any governance or management of the universe by any sort of transcendental intelligence. Their materialism assumed that life is wholly the product of natural processes and not the result of divine intervention. These three principles are the basic hypotheses (principia neutra) of materialist philosophy. Interestingly enough, Emil du Bois-Reymond in his Über die Grenzen des Naturerkennens of 1872 would formulate his 'ignoramus et ignorabimus' (we do not know and will not know) on the limits of scientific knowledge. In a speech before the the Leibniz-Stiftung der Akademie der Wissenschaften on 8 July 1880, he outlined 'Die sieben Welträthsel' (Seven World Riddles) some of which, he declared, neither science nor philosophy could ever explain (the ultimate nature of matter and force, the origin of motion, the origin of life, the apparently teleological arrangements of nature, the origin of simple sensations, the origin of intelligent thought and language, and the question of freewill). Concerning numbers 1, 2 and 5 of the 'Seven World Riddles', he proclaimed: 'ignoramus et ignorabimus' thereby indicating the limitations of mechanical assumptions about nature in dealing with certain problems he considered "transcendent" (see also The Real Death of Vitalism: Implications of the Wöhler Myth, Anthony Cheng, Penn Bioethics Journal 1 (1), 2005 and Reizbare Maschinen: eine Geschichte des Körpers 1765-1914, Philipp Sarasin, Suhrkamp, 2001, p. 348 and The Aetiology of Deep Venous Thrombosis: A Critical, Historical and Epistemological Survey, P. Colm Malone, Paul S. Agutter Springer Science & Business Media, 2007, p. 241 and The Study of Lives: Essays on Personality in Honor of Henry A. Murray, Robert W. White ed., Transaction Publishers, 2006, pp. 372-375 and A Brief History of Psychology, Max Wertheimer, Taylor & Francis, 2012, p. 63 and An Introduction to the History of Psychology, B. Hergenhahn, Tracy Henley, Cengage Learning, 2013, p. 493 and Über die Grenzen des Naturerkennens, Emil du Bois-Reymond, 1872, p. 464 and Reden von Emil du Bois-Reymond in zwei Bänden. Zweiter Band, Estelle du Bois-Reymond ed., Leipzig: Veit & Comp, 1912, pp. 65-98).

In the twentieth century, biology entered a new era with the discovery of the molecular basis of life and inheritance. Life became materialized in a fundamental way and the concept of its dual nature was changed. The key concepts in molecular biology are mechanism, information, and gene. The basis of Life itself became defined in mechanistic terms, the transmission of (biological, molecular) information was viewed as dynamic. The gene concept is still fuzzy and is an object of research in flux because the concept remains operationally in flux (cfr. Plato). Molecular biology as such is a result of the encounter between genetics and biochemistry, two branches of biology that developed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Both biochemistry and molecular genetics came upon the scene in the twentieth century and profoundly changed the view on the foundations of life. Biochemistry was concerned with nutrition (recharacterized as metabolism more generally) and molecular biology (along with its more direct predecessor classical genetics) investigated reproduction (cfr. Aristotle's two features of life). Biochemistry emerged as a field earlier in the twentieth century, and traced its roots to animal chemistry and medical chemistry of the nineteenth century. For Schrödinger, biology was to be reduced to the more fundamental principles of physics, while Max Delbrück (1906-1981 CE) instead resisted such a reduction and sought what made biology unique.
James D. Watson (1928-) and Francis H. C. Crick (1916-2004 CE) on 25 April 1953 published their paper on the geometric structure of DNA, namely the double helix (Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, Nature 171 (4356): 737-8), thereby intiating the modern era of molecular genetics.

Euclidean geometry versus hyperbolic geometry

Around 1830, the Hungarian mathematician János Bolyai (1802-1860 CE) and the Russian mathematician Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (1792-1856 CE) separately published treatises on hyperbolic geometry (also called Lobachevskian geometry or Bolyai-Lobachevskian geometry). This would mark the beginning of modern non-euclidean geometry and would have profound philosophical consequences. Non-euclidean geometry rejects Euclid's fifth postulate or 'parallel postulate'. These discoveries of a consistent alternative geometry that might correspond to the structure of the universe helped to free mathematicians to study abstract concepts irrespective of any possible connection with the physical world. Non-euclidean geometry would make clear that a mathematical system is only a logical skeleton. The axioms of the system are not asserted to be true, they are simply assumptions. The theorems are not asserted to be true either; they are simply what follows when you make these assumptions about these undefined terms. And no one guarantees that the application of any particular mathematical system to the real world will yield any true or useful results. After the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry, Immanuel Kant's (1724-1804 CE) claims for the synthetic a priori status of Euclid's geometry as a description of physical space came into question. Later philosophers such as Ernst Cassirer's (1874-1945 CE) questioned whether the categories of human understanding are truly fixed, as Kant had suggested, or change throughout the history of human thought. Non-Euclidean geometry marked the beginning of the end of the Enlightenment world-view and its believe in pure reason. If you could doubt geometry, you could doubt anything. Relativism with regard to axioms/first principles and postulates became part of modern philosophy (see also A History of Non-Euclidean Geometry: Evolution of the Concept of a Geometric Space, Boris A. Rosenfeld Springer Science & Business Media, 2012 and The Non-Euclidean Revolution, Richard J. Trudeau Springer Science & Business Media, 2009 and Immanuel Kant: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics: That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science: With Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant, Gary Hatfield, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. xxxiii and Die nichteuklidische Geometrie in der "Phänomenologie des Geistes", Imre Tóth, Festschrift f. Julius Schaaf, Frankfurt am Main, 1972, p. 3-92 and Gott und Geometrie: Eine viktorianische Kontroverse, Imre Tóth, in: Dieter Henrich (Herausgeber) Evolutionstheorie und ihre Evolution, Schriftenreihe der Universität Regensburg, Band 7, 1982, p. 141-204 and The Unreasonable Influence of Geometry, Doug Muder).

From potential to actual infinity

The German mathematician Georg Cantor (1845-1918 CE) invented and together with Richard Dedekind (1831-1916 CE) developed set theory which deals with collections of objects. With his Grundlagen einer allgemeinen Mannigfaltigkeitslehre Cantor developed mathematics into an integral part of philosophy and he mastered infinity (∞). Infinity had been the infinity of the series of an irrational number such as √2 or Π, which meant infinity in this case had the character of an approximation, but did not mean an actual infinity. The Grundlagen offered his first published defense of the actual infinite or transfinite, a concept which most philosophers, theologians and mathematicians had traditionally opposed. Philosophers had been wary of the paradoxical nature of the infinite since the Pre-Socratics first began to explore its many contradictory forms. Aristotle's (384-322 BCE) solution was generally followed, which simply rejected the use of completed infinities. Christian theologians like Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) were also opposed to the actual infinite; for the most part they regarded the idea as a direct challenge to the unique and absolutely infinite nature of God. The overwhelming majority of scholastic philosophers adhered to the motto 'Infinitum actu non datur'. This means there is only a (developing, improper, "syncategorematic") potential infinity but not a (fixed, proper, "categorematic") actual infinity. Actual infinity also touches on the pantheism of Spinoza (1632-1677 CE) and the relation between 'natura naturata' as infinity 'in concreto' and 'natura naturans' or God's infinity. Finally, mathematicians generally followed the philosophers in avoiding any application of the actual infinite, and their reluctance stemmed from the apparent inconsistencies such concepts always seemed to introduce. Proponents of intuitionism, like Leopold Kronecker (1823-1891 CE), would reject the claim that there are actually infinite mathematical objects or sets. From Kroneckker comes the quote: "Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk". David Hilbert (1862-1943 CE) on the other hand would put forward: "No one will drive us from the paradise which Cantor created for us". With the work of Georg Cantor actual infinity (∞) would become part of mathematical and philosophical systems, which would forever change the view on (trans-)reality and the place of rational and irrational numbers. Irrational numbers are considered a deviation from (absolute) reality as Western thought fundamentally cannot deal with non-absolutes or non-static objects. Eternal being is considered superior to eternal becoming as the place (destiny) is more important than the way. Irrational numbers are an eternal becoming, while rational numbers are eternal being (see also Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen?, Richard Dedekind, 1888 and Georg Cantor, His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite, Joseph Warren Dauben, HUP, 1979 and Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite, Joseph Warren Dauben, Princeton University Press, 1990).

Axiomatic systems and the incompleteness theorems

Several mathematical axiomatic systems would be developed during the twentieth century. An axiomatic system comprises any set of axioms from which some or all axioms can be used in conjunction to logically derive theorems. Truth or proof only exists within the axiomatic system itself, but truth is not a meta-characteristic of the axiomatic system itself. In their book Principia Mathematica, Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947 CE) and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970 CE) attempted to show that all mathematical theory could be reduced to some collection of axioms. Kurt Gödel (1906-1978 CE) would shatter this attempt with his two incompleteness theorems. His first incompleteness theorem states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an "effective procedure" (algorithm) is capable of proving all truths about the relations of the natural numbers (arithmetic). For any such system, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. The second incompleteness theorem, an extension of the first, shows that such a system cannot demonstrate its own consistency. Gödel's incompleteness theorems show that in certain cases it is not possible to obtain an effectively generated, complete, consistent theory which Whitehead and Russellhad tried with their Principia Mathematica. (see also Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathematica und verwandter Systeme, Kurt Gödel, I. Monatshefte für Mathematik und Physik 38: 173-98).

Atoms and corpuscularism - from hypothesis to reality

It took a long time for scientists to understand what elements are. Most ancient Greeks such as Aristotle thought that there were only four elements-air, fire, earth, and water. This Aristotelian physics would dominate European science until the Scientific Revolution. The classical atomic theory of Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius was only rediscovered in the Renaissance. The development of modern atomic theory was different for physics and chemistry and for quite a while the issue of the empirical foundation for the various unobservable forces hypothesised at the atomic level remained a challence for science. Scientists would gradually provide empirical proof that objects are made from molecules, molecules consist of atoms, and atoms consist of interacting subatomic particles. The discoveries at the atomic level would have a profound influence on our world-view and the ancient world of the four elements and the "Forms" would be replaced by the modern world of the "atoms". The eternal atoms of the ancients however would be replaced by the divisible atoms of the modern era and scientists would unleash the forces of the nucleus (fission) and the sun (fusion).

The jesuit priest Ruđer Josip Bošković (18 May 1711-1787 CE) made important contibutions to atomic theory. His most important works were the Theoria philosophiae naturalis redacta ad unicam legem virium in natura existentium (1758) and the Theoria philosophiae naturalis (1763). Bošković accepted Isaac Newton's gravitation theory as valid in the macrocosmic realm, posited that, as the distance between physical objects diminishes, attraction is replaced by a repulsive force. Thus, while attraction provides the atomic cohesion needed for the construction of physical objects, a repulsive force keeps individual atoms at a certain distance from each other. It is Bošković conception of an atom lacking spatial extension, resembling a geometrical point that conjures up the world of subatomic particles, discovered in the twentieth century. In 1789, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794 CE) in his Traité élémentaire de chimie (1789) defined an element as a substance that cannot be chemically analyzed. Lavoisier made the first list of elements which expanded beyond the classical four elements. Ever more elements were being discovered over the years. John Dalton (1766-1844 CE), in A New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808), asserted, building on Lavoisier's observation that each element was a unique substance, that atoms forming a particular element were similar and had the same weight. William Prout (1785-1850 CE) from his observations of the densities of different gases, theorized that the atomic weights of different elements were whole number multiples of the atomic weight of hydrogen (Prout's hypothesis), which he published in On the Relation between the Specific Gravities of Bodies in their Gaseous State and the Weights of their Atoms (Annals of Philosophy 6, 321-330 in 1815). Finally in 1869, the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907 CE) would create what we now call Mendeleev's Table or the Periodic Table of elements in which he put the elements in order of their atomic weight. Mendeleev would publish his results in his work The Principles of Chemistry (1870). The meaning of Mendeleev's Table would only become clear with the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s did scientists work out how the electrons arrange themselves to give the element its properties. In Mendeleev's day the atom was considered the most basic particle of matter thereby going back to the ancient Greek 'particulate theory of matter' in the 5th century BCE of Leucippus (first half of 5th century BCE), and Democritus (ca. 460-ca. 370 BCE). Of importance to the philosophical concept of atomism is the historical accident that the particles which chemists and physicists of the early 19th century thought were indivisible, and therefore identified with the uncuttable a-toms of long tradition, were found in the 20th century to be composed of even smaller entities: electrons, neutrons, and protons. With the dawn of quantum mechanics science would have a profound influence on philosophy as it would bring down the certainties and stability of Newtonianism. Quantum physics would change our idea of causality, and of the fundamental nature of space, time, matter, and the universe.

The first atomic theory that had empirical support independent of the phenomena it was designed to explain was the kinetic theory of gases, developed by James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879 CE) and Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann (1844-1906). Joseph John Thomson (1856-1940 CE) discovered the electron in 1897 and thereby discarded the idea that atoms were the smallest possible division of matter. This would lead to the so-called Plum pudding model of the atom. Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908 CE) along with Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867-1934 CE) and Pierre Curie (1859-1906 CE) discovered radioactivity. Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937 CE) discovered that most of the mass and positive charge of an atom is concentrated in a very small fraction of its volume, which lead to the Rutherford model. Rutherford and his student Frederick Soddy (1877-1956 CE) were the first to realize that many radioactive decay processes resulted in the transmutation of one element to another (somewhat similar to the lapis philosophorum of the alchemists). Ernest Rutherford was also the first who split the atom in 1917. Max Planck (1858-1947 CE) is regarded as the founder of quantum theory, thereby initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. With the Bohr model for the atom introduced by Niels Bohr (1885-1962 CE) in 1913 we enter the modern era of nuclear physics: On the Constitution of Atoms and Molecules (Philosophical Magazine 26: 1-25, 476-502, 857-875) (1913).

Albert Einstein (1879-1955 CE) in 1905 published a paper on Brownian motion in the Annalen der Physik: 'Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen'. He gave a statistical discussion of atomic behavior which gave experimentalists a way to count atoms with an ordinary microscope. This would finally lead to proof of the existence of atoms. Jean Baptiste Perrin (1870-1942 CE) with his research confirmed the atomic nature of matter, thereby ending the dispute on the nature of matter in favor of the atomists. Perrin studied the Brownian motion or random motion of particles suspended in a fluid (a liquid or a gas) resulting from their collision with the quick atoms or molecules in the gas or liquid. It also changed the view on thermodynamics. Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906 CE) had developed statistical mechanics, which was now confirmed by the observation of Brownian movement. After milennia of scientific research, physics finally became firmly founded in atomism and stochastics (see also Einstein 1905, John S Rigden, Harvard University Press, 2009, p. 68-69).

Relativity - from space and time to spacetime

Albert Einstein (1879-1955 CE) developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics in the early years of the 20th century. His most important publications were Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper (Annalen der Physik, Bern, 1905) on the Special Theory of Relativity (STR) and Kosmologische Betrachtungen zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie (Sitzungsberichte der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: 142 1917) on the General Theory of Relativity (GTR). The STR generalizes Galileo Galilei's principle of relativity as put forward in his Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (1632) that all uniform motion is relative, and that there is no absolute and well-defined state of rest (no privileged reference frames)-from mechanics to all the laws of physics. Special relativity relies on two postulates or axioms:

  1. The laws of physics are invariant (i.e. identical) in all inertial systems (non-accelerating frames of reference).
  2. The speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of the motion of the light source.
The postulates of special relativity are also the dogmas of special relativity as they cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system's paradigm. An important consequence of special relativity is that time and space cannot be defined separately from each other. Rather space and time are interwoven into a single continuum known as spacetime or Minkowski space. This also means that events which occur at the same time for one observer can occur at different times for another. In the world of Newtonian physics, everything had looked the same to everyone else in the universe, irrespective of its location and speed. In special relativity there no longer is an absolute reference frame like in Newtonian physics nor is time separated from the spatial dimension like in Euclidean space. The GTR generalizes special relativity and Isaac Newton's law of universal gravitation, providing a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time, or spacetime. Space-time became very dynamic when compared to Newtonian physics, now changing depending gravity and velocity. The relation of cause and effect changed fundamentally. In Newtonian physics, some effects had a cause, in Kantian physics all effects had a cause (Kant's Second Law of Mechanics) and finally in Einsteinian physics, no effect had a cause. Science has come a long way since Aristotle's Principle of Causality was deemed essential in all sciences. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970 CE) in 1913 would write on causality: "The law of causality, I believe, like much that passes muster among philosophers, is a relic of a bygone age, surviving, like the monarchy, only because it is erroneously supposed to do no harm." (see also Thinking about Causes: From Greek Philosophy to Modern Physics, Peter K. Machamer, Gereon Wolters, University of Pittsburgh Pre, 2006, p. 110 and The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Volume 5,Part 2, Macmillan, 1967, p. 178 and On the Notion of Cause, Bertrand Russell, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, (1913), 13, pp. 1-26).

Hermann Minkowski (1864-1909 CE) would put forward Minkowski spacetime, a four-dimensional manifold for representing a spacetime. He presented it in his speech on Raum und Zeit at the 80th Assembly of German Natural Scientists and Physicians on 21 September 1908 (see also Symmetry and the beautiful universe, L. M. Lederman, C. T. Hill, Prometheus Books, 2004, p. 161 and University Physics, G. Arfken, Academic Press, 1984, p. 384 and The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-year History, Eli Maor, Princeton University Press, 2007, p. 190 and Minkowski Spacetime: A Hundred Years Later, Vesselin Petkov, Springer, 2010).

Quantum physics and determinism versus indeterminism

Eine neue wissenschaftliche Wahrheit pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen,
daß ihre Gegner überzeugt werden und sich als belehrt erklären,
sondern vielmehr dadurch, daß ihre Gegner allmählich aussterben
und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Wahrheit vertraut gemacht ist.
- Max Planck, Wissenschaftliche Selbstbiographie -

The development of quantum physics lead to a shift away from the macroscopic world which is (still) Newtonian and deterministic for local events. The microscopic quantum world displays radical indeterminacy, which limits any certainty surrounding the unfolding of physical events. Contrary to the deterministic Newtonian world, in the quantum world events often happen without cause, such as radioactive decay. The quantum world is about uncertainties, dualities, paradoxes, and probabilities. The fundamental principle of the quantum world is its probabilistic nature which contradicts our intuition used to Newtonian determinism (see also Philosophical and Practical Implications of Quantum Mechanics, Sunil Thakur, The General Science Journal, 17 August 2009 and Philosophical consequences of quantum theory: reflections on Bell's theorem, James T. Cushing, Ernan McMullin, University of Notre Dame Press, 1989).

Max Planck (1858-1947 CE) while studying black-body radiation formulated Planck's law and introduced the Planck postulate which states that the energy of oscillators in a black body is quantized according to the formula: E=Nhν. The h is Planck's constant. The quantization principle was incompatible with classical physics and is regarded as the birth of quantum physics. The principle contradicted the classical axiom of natural philosophy Natura non facit saltus (nature does not make jumps) and breaks the Law of Mean Terms or Triadic Principle which goes back to Iamblichus (ca. 245-ca. 325 CE) to connect the One to the many, and goes even back to Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 495 BCE) (see also Hidden Worlds in Quantum Physics, Gerard Gouesbet, Jean Bricmont, Courier Corporation, 2014 and History of Shock Waves, Explosions and Impact: A Chronological and Biographical Reference, Peter O. K. Krehl, Springer Science & Business Media, 2008, p. 39 and A Complete Guide to the Soul, Patrick Harpur, Random House, 2010, p. 31 and Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality, Edward F. Kelly, Adam Crabtree, Paul Marshall, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, p. 292).

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976 CE) in 1927 published his work Über den anschulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik (Z. Phys. Volume 43, 172-198) (1927) on the Uncertainty Principle, which says that the more precisely the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa (Matrix Mechanics). The Uncertainty Principle would renew interest in the ancient paradox: "Only one thing is certain - that nothing is certain; if this statement is true, it is also false". In his work The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory (1930), Eisenberg would propose what would become the "Copenhagen interpretation" of quantum physics. The uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics has removed the burden of Newtonian determinism from the purely materialistic worldview. The uncertainty principle changes the rules of causation as it introduces randomness into physics. It also has an impact on the discussion about free will and free choice. The discussion about free will within a quantum context was part of the Bohr-Einstein debates. Erwin R. J. A. Schrödinger (1887-1961 CE) published the s-called Schrödinger equation in 1926, which describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time (Wave Mechanics): An Undulatory Theory of the Mechanics of Atoms and Molecules (Physical Review 28 (6): 1049-1070) (1926). He also conceived a thought experiment called Schrödinger's cat which presents a cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead,a state known as a quantum superposition. Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) and also Schrödinger contributed to the principle of quantum entanglement. Once two particles are entangled, a change to one of them is reflected instantly in the other, be they in the same lab or light-years apart and involving information being transmitted faster than light which is forbidden by the theory of relativity. Here the quantum world not even contradicts Newtonian physics but also the theory of relativity. Quantum entanglement lead to the EPR paradox as it violated the local realist view of causality because of its action at a distance. The EPR paper lead to the paradox that quantum mechanics was either incomplete, in the sense that it failed to account for some elements of physical reality, or it violated the principle of a finite propagation speed of physical effects. John Stewart Bell (1928-1990 CE) published a paper On the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox which lead to Bell's theorem (Bell inequalities). It draws an important distinction between quantum mechanics and the world as described by classical mechanics. It states that any physical theory that incorporates local realism, local hidden variable theory and the no-conspiracy assumption (principle of determinism) cannot reproduce all the predictions of quantum mechanical theory. The discussion about Bell's theorem and the EPR paradox deals with three key concepts: locality, realism and freedom. The consequence of accepting Bell's theorem is that we are forced to reject one (or more) of these three principles. Locality is connected to causality, which means causal influences need time to propagate spatially. The principle of realism means counterfactual definiteness, which is the ability to speak meaningfully of the definiteness of the results of measurements that have not been performed. Therefore realism means that he outcome of an experiment is not created by the experiment, but corresponds to the properties possessed by the measured system prior to the measurement. Freedom means the freedom to choose which of several measurements to perform, which is also called the no-conspiracy principle. It means the experimenter's choice of measurement basis should not be correlated with the quantum state they are measuring. In other words if physics gives up the no-conspiracy principle, it becomes possible for "nature to force experimenters to measure what she wants, and when she wants, hiding whatever she does not like physicists to see.". This either leads to the consequence that either everything is deterministic (super-deterministic) or every particle has free will. The ongoing debate about the philosophical consequences and interpretation of quantum physics shows the profound influence science has on our world view (see also The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and the Measurement Process, Peter Mittelstaedt, Cambridge University Press, 2004 and The dilemma of determinism, William James, 1884 and Philosophical Enquiries, Margaret Chatterjee, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1987, p. 195 and Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, Bruce Rosenblum, Fred Kuttner, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 134 and The Oxford Handbook of Free Will: Second Edition, Robert Kane, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 6 and The Quantum Divide: Why Schrödinger's Cat is Either Dead Or Alive, Christopher C. Gerry, Kimberley M. Bruno, OUP Oxford, 2013 and The God Effect: Quantum Entanglement, Science's Strangest Phenomenon, Brian Clegg, Macmillan, 2009 and The Strong Free Will Theorem, John H. Conway and Simon Kochen, Notices of the AMS, Volume 56, Number 2, February 2009, pp. 226-232 and Assumptions underlying Bell's inequalities, Angel G Valdenebro, European Journal of Physics, Volume 23, Number 5, 6 September 2002).

The modern theory of the Standard Model of particle physics, which was developed since the 1960s is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. The Standard Model encompasses quantum electrodynamics (QED) for the electron and the theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) for nuclear phenomena. QED describes how light and matter interact and is the first theory where full agreement between quantum mechanics and special relativity was achieved. QCD is the theory of the strong interaction (color force), a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons (such as the proton, neutron or pion). With these developments at the quantum level, the atomic microcosm (almost) resembles the Pythagorean harmony. Modern physics is rooted in the Pythagorean mathematical (quantitative) and Democritean atomic (corpuscular) tradition of science and philosophy in contrast to the Aristotelian (qualitative) philosophical tradition of Christianity, which may explain some of the enduring antagonisms between science and religion. With its combination of mathematics and materialism (atomism), modern science now unites the Italiote (mathematical, Alexandrian) and Ionian (materialistic) traditions of metaphysics. By being able to move back and forth between the world of mathematics (ideas, hypothesis) and matter (empirical experiments) science builds an evolving mirror-image of physical reality in its scientific models. By reducing the mismatch between model and reality step-by-step, our understanding of nature slowly improves and the knowledge-gap diminishes. However the number of facts gathered is not entirely equivalent to the understanding being achieved (see also Hidden Worlds in Quantum Physics, Gerard Gouesbet, Courier Dover Publications, 2014, p. 28 and Beauty, Lauren Arrington, Zoe Leinhardt, Philip Dawid, Cambridge University Press, 2013, p. 43).

Scientific progress, linear no more

Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962 CE) introduced the concepts of 'epistemological obstacle' and 'epistemological break' (obstacle épistémologique et rupture épistémologique) which put forward the discontinuous nature of the history of sciences. In Le nouvel esprit scientifique (1934) (E: The New Scientific Mind) and La formation de l'esprit scientifique (1938) (E: The Formation of the Scientific Mind) his views were based on his vision of historical epistemology as a kind of psychoanalysis of the scientific mind, or rather of the psychological factors in the development of sciences. Bachelard in his work was critical of Auguste Comte's (1798-1857 CE) positivism, which considered science as a continual progress. Positivists claimed that knowledge about the world is gained through the senses, and as a result they tend to view sensory data as the most fundamental type of knowledge-even, in earlier extreme forms of positivism, as the only type of knowledge about the world. In positivism the macroworld, the observable world of everyday experience, becomes the paradigm of what is real, while the reality of unobservable theoretical constructs becomes problematic. Following Gaston Bachelard, we could say that the Aristotelianism of established scientists during the life of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) had been an 'obstacle épistémologique', while the new mechanical world-view of Galileo had been a 'rupture épistémologique'.

In 1973 Brandon Carter (1942 CE) in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle put forward the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP) in which he stated that the observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on the values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirement that the Universe be old enough for it to have already done so. This is an epistemological argument as it states that physical laws cannot contradict the existence of carbon-based life. He also put forward the more speculative Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP) in which he stated that the Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in it's history. This is a teleological or even theological argument in the Aristotelian tradition (see also The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, John D. Barrow, Frank J. Tipler, Oxford University Press, 1988).

Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996 CE) in his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) pointed out that most science was what he called normal science (problem solving work within the bounds of current theory and knowledge). However, when many anomalies are generated during the process of doing normal science, it may become accepted that the work is actually extraordinary (or revolutionary) science within the current scientific paradigm. There may then occur a paradigm shift (such as the shift from Newtonian science to Einsteinian science) until the new paradigm is accepted as the norm by the scientific community and integrated into their previous work. Kuhn argued that a new paradigm is accepted mainly because it has a superior ability to solve problems that arise in the process of doing normal science, and pseudoscience or non-science can then be defined by a failure to provide explanations within such a paradigm (see also The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition, Thomas S. Kuhn, University of Chicago Press, 2012).

The failure of the Logical Positivist Verification Principle led to the development of the Falsification Principle. Being unrestricted, scientific theories (empirical) cannot be verified by any possible accumulation of observational evidence. The formation of hypothesis is a creative process of the imagination and is not a passive reaction to observed regularities. A scientific test consists in a persevering search for negative, falsifying instances. If a hypothesis survives continuing and serious attempts to falsify it, then it has proven worthy to be upheld and can be provisionally accepted, but it can never be established conclusively. Later corroboration generates a series of hypothesis into a scientific theory. Thus, the core element of a scientific hypothesis is that it must be capability of being proven false instead of being verified. Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994 CE) in his work Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963) suggested that all scientific theories are by nature conjectures and inherently fallible, and that refutation to old theory is the paramount process of scientific discovery. A scientific theory should have the possibility of falsifiability or refutability as it might be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of a physical experiment. Any given scientific (or philosophical) theory maybe cannot be proven completely, but one single counterproof should be capable to falsify the theory. In All Life is Problem Solving (1994 CE), Karl Popper sought to explain the apparent progress of scientific knowledge, or how it is that our understanding of the universe seems to improve over time. This problem arises from the idea that the truth content of our (scientific) theories, even the best of them, cannot be verified by scientific experiments, but can only be falsified. The word 'falsified' does not refer to something being 'fake'; rather, that something can be shown to be false by observation or experiment. Some ideas or knowledge do not lend themselves to being shown to be false, and therefore cannot contribute to the progress of science. Science as such cannot be used to establish absolute and eternal truth, but can only be used to uphold a certain truth momentarily and conditional as long as it is not being falisified (paradigm shift). Falsification however can only happen with a new theory which is regarded valid. A given theory (T1) is falsified when three conditions are met: there exists a theory T2 that has excess empirical content, that is, it predicts novel facts - new ones not predicted by T1; T2 explains everything that was previously explained by T1; and some of these new predictions have been confirmed by experiment (see also Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Karl Raimund Popper, Psychology Press, 2002 and An Introduction to the Thought of Karl Popper, Roberta Corvi, Routledge, 2005 and The Philosophy of Karl Popper, Herbert Keuth, Cambridge University Press, 2005 and Philosophy of Religion, Anne Lockyer Jordan, Anne Lockyer Jordan Neil Lockyer Edwin Tate, Neil Lockyer, Edwin Tate, Nelson Thornes, 2004).

Alfred Tarski (1901-1983 CE) found his own solution to the problems of the correspondence theory such as the liar paradox and had an important influence on Popper. He published his ideas in Pojęcie prawdy w językach nauk dedukcyjnych (1933) (E: The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages). First, Alfred Tarski defines a true staments as a statement that corresponds to reality. Secondly in his theory is the idea that truth can only be defined relative to another language. In his work Objective Knowledge (1972) Karl Popper puts foward that scientific hypotheses are not only not justified, and not accessible to justification, they are not beliefs either, and in a clear sense are not accessible to belief. Scientific knowledge for Popper is an extension of commonsense knowledge, and has much in common with it, but it has little affinity with what is conventionally regarded by professional philosophers as the subject matter of the theory of knowledge. Popper puts forward the doctrine of the objectivity of scientific knowledge as opposed to idealism. His theory of epistemology is a perpetual falsifiable journey towards truth. As a metaphysical realist, Popper adheres to the Correspondence Theory of Truth in which a claim is true if it corresponds to what is so (the "facts" or"reality") and false if it does not correspond to what is so. Popper stated that metaphysical idealism cannot be refuted and metaphysical realism be corroborated nor falsified via empirical investigation, nor conclusively demonstrated through logical argument. Nonetheless, metaphysical realism is much more plausible than idealism, Popper contended. Realism leads to the acceptance of objective knowledge outside the observer as opposed to idealism which always has a subjective element. Popper also embraced scientific realism and the aim of science for Popper is to produce better explanations of the world, not merely to produce greater predictive power. Popper then opposes the Coherence Theory of Truth, which says that a statement is true if it is logically consistent with other beliefs that are held to be true. Popper also rejects the Pragmatic Theory of Truth, which states that a statement is (already) true if it allows you to interact effectively and efficiently with the cosmos. The less true a belief is, the less it facilitates such interaction. A belief is false if it facilitates no interaction (see also Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, Anita Burdman Feferman, Solomon Feferman, Cambridge University Press, 2004 and Introduction to Logic: and to the Methodology of Deductive Sciences, Alfred Tarski, Courier Dover Publications, 2013 and Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, Karl Raimund Popper, Clarendon Press, 1979).

Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994 CE) in his works Against Method (1975), and Science in a Free Society (1978) argued that science does not occupy a special place in terms of either its logic or method, and that there is no method within the history of scientific practice which has not been violated at some point in the advancing of scientific knowledge, so that any claim to special authority made by scientists cannot be upheld. In Against Method Paul Feyerabend also put forward an interesting view on the conflict between Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE) and the Roman Catholic Church, by portraying Galileo as a man making full use of rhetoric, propaganda, and various epistemological tricks in order to support the heliocentric position. Galileo broke with the conventional Aristotelian view of his time and used unorthodox methods to make his point. History has proven that Galileo was right although unorthodox in his methods. Science does not make progress by means of a rational method, but the paradigm changes happen amidst signs of anarchism and turmoil. Rationality hinders change and progress, while anarchism makes it possible. Perception is always embedded in the scientific view of the observer, empiricism and rationalism do not exist independently form each other. The heliocentric position of Galileo made him intepret his observations according to the theory he supported and believed in, even if it was not always right what he assumed. In Against Method Paul Feyerabend drew the "epistemological anarchist" conclusion that there are no useful and exceptionless methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. The history of science is so complex that if we insist on a general methodology which will not inhibit progress the only "rule" it will contain will be the useless suggestion: "anything goes", meaning any method will do. In Farewell to Reason (1987) Feyerabend put forward that relativism is the solution to the problems of conflicting beliefs and of conflicting ways of life. For Feyerabend relativism is a result of cultural confrontation, an "attempt to make sense of the phenomenon of cultural variety" (see also Against Method, Paul K. Feyerabend, Verso, 1993 and Science in a Free Society, Paul K. Feyerabend, Verso, 1982 and Farewell to Reason, Paul K. Feyerabend, Verso, 1987).

Pythagoras and modern physics

From the metaphysics of Pythagoras (ca. 570-ca. 490 BCE) to modern physics, the dream of a Mathematical Universe remained an interesting idea. The question remains: Is math invented by humans, or is it the language of the universe? As Newton and Einstein used the Pythagorean theorem for the macrocosm, quantum physics applies the theorem for the microcosm. Modern quantum physics can also be seen as a step towards a vision of a world derived from pure logic and mathematics. Max Planck (1858-1947 CE) in The philosophy of physics (1936 CE) put forward about theoretical physics: "It substitutes a new world in place of that given to us by the senses or by the measuring instruments which are used in order to aid the senses. This other world is the so-called physical world-image; it is merely an intellectual structure". From this idea arises the modern Pythagoras-Planck program: to formulate a theoretical framework in which all fundamental constants of science are based on pure number. Eugene Wigner (1902-1995 CE) wrote a paper The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences (1960 CE) in which he stated: "the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it". John Wheeler (1911-2008 CE) coined the phrase 'Getting its from bits', which is the modern version of the Pythagorean program that everything is derived from pure number, e.g. such as with string theory. According to this "it from bit" doctrine, all things physical are information-theoretic in origin. Frank Wilczek (b. 1951 CE) in an article Getting Its from Bits would refer to the Pythagorean project of physics. Max Tegmark (b. 1967 CE) formulated the mathematical universe hypothesis (MUH) which states "Our external physical reality is a mathematical structure.". The mathematical universe hypothesis (MUH) is part of the discussion between scientific realism and instrumentalism (see also More Things in Heaven and Earth: A Celebration of Physics at the Millennium, Benjamin Bederson, Springer Science & Business Media, 2012, p. 157 and Getting its from bits, Frank Wilczek, Nature 397, 303-306, 1999 and Getting its from BITS, Frank Wilczek, CERN Lectures on Science and Society, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, 27 May 1999 and The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, Eugene Wigner, Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics 13 (1960), p. 14 and Information, Physics, Quantum: The Search for Links, John Archibald Wheeler, Physics Dept., University of Texas, 1990, p. 310 and De La Mettrie's Ghost: The Story of Decisions, Chris Nunn, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 p. 171 and Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind, Holmes Rolston, Columbia University Press, 2013, p. 8 and Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, Max Tegmark, Penguin UK, 2014 and Cosmology, Physics and Philosophy, Benjamin Gal-Or, Springer Science & Business Media, 2013).

Cannon on a Very High Mountain
Isaac Newton, the cannon on a very high mountain in Principia Mathematica, VII, Book III, p. 551 (1687)

With the Pythagorean theorem, Isaac Newton's three laws of motion, universal gravitational force, Coulomb's force, and the formula of relativistic dynamics can be put in a geometrical form. Newton applied the Pythagorean theorem in his geometric proof of centripetal acceleration, which lead to the centripetal force formula which is required to obtain the inverse square law of gravity from Kepler's third law. The reduction of the gravitational force with the square of the distance between two objects, relates the third order mass with the one dimensional distance. (see also Principia Mathematica, Book I, The Motion of Bodies, Section II: Determination of Centripetal Forces, Proposition 1, Theorem 1, Isaac Newton, 1687 and Newton's Gravity: An Introductory Guide to the Mechanics of the Universe, D. W. MacDougal, Springer, 2012, p. 415 and The Renaissance New Testament, R. O. Yeager, Pelican Publishing, 1998, p. 202 and Isaac Newton on Mathematical Certainty and Method, Nummer 4, N. Guicciardini, MIT Press, 2009, p. 183 and The Character of Physical Law - The Law of Gravitation, an Example of Physical Law, Richard Feynman, Cornell lecture, November 1964).

General Theory of Relatively
The Pythagorean relationship between Energy (E), Mass (m) and Momentum (p) according to Special Relativity.
In the General Theory of Relativity the hypotenuse of the rectangular triangle represents energy times c (c denoting the speed of light),
the vertical edge momentum times c2, and the base mass times c3.

A defining characteristic of a Euclidean space is that the square of the length of a vector is the sum of the squares of any set of orthogonal components, which leads to the Pythagorean theorem in n-dimensions. Mathematicians have even worked out equivalents of the Pythagorean theorem for non-Euclidean geometry. When properly expanded it can be applied to relations in higher dimensions, which is what Albert Einstein (1879-1955 CE) did with space and time into a four dimensional system. Einstein's theory is a straightforward extension of Pythagoras into the realm of space-time. He used the Pythagorean Theorem in the Special Theory of Relativity (in a four dimensional form), and in a vastly expanded form in the General Theory of Relativity. (see also Symmetry and the beautiful universe, L. M. Lederman, C. T. Hill, Prometheus Books, 2004, p. 161 and University Physics, G. Arfken, Academic Press, 1984, p. 384 and The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-year History, Eli Maor, Princeton University Press, 2007, p. 190).

The equation E0=mc2 denotes a special case of the mass-energy-momentum relation: E2=m2c4+p2c2. This E0=mc2 equation is a degenerate form of the mass-energy-momentum relation for vanishing momentum, while for a body in its rest frame, the momentum is zero. The mass-energy equation is strictly limited to observers co-moving with the object under study. The Pythagorean theorem graphically relates energy (E), momentum (c) and mass (m). In the rectangular triangle of the General Theory of Relativity, the hypotenuse represents energy times c (c denoting the speed of light), the vertical edge momentum times c2, and the base mass times c3. The hypotenuse labeled Ec is proportional to the energy of the particle, and has length energy E times speed of light c. The vertical edge labeled Ev is proportional to the momentum of the particle and has length E times v. Finally, the base labeled mc3 is proportional to the mass of the particle and has length m times c3. Transformed into linear algebraic or Cartesian notation a2+b2=c2 and Riemannian geometry, the Pythagorean Theorem is one of the fundamental equations of quantum physics. Another interesting generalisation was put forward by Pierre de Fermat (1601-1665 CE) and which became known as Fermat's Last Theorem which states that no three positive integers a, b, and c can satisfy the Diophantine equation an+bn=cn for any integer value of n greater than two. Andrew Wiles (born 1953) would finally provide a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem in 1994 (see also From the Pythagorean Theorem to Fermat's Last Theorem, Amarjit Singh Nyjar, California State University, Northridge, 2003 and Fermat's Last Theorem, S. Singh, HarperCollins UK, 2012, p. 26).

The Pythagorean theorem also played a role in the discovery of the Higgs boson. In quantum physics we have the concept of a on shell and off shell. In quantum field theory, configurations of a physical system that satisfy classical equations of motion are called on shell, and those that do not are called off shell. The mass of a particle is the "radius" of a shell in four-dimensional space-time in relativity theory which relates energy and mass. Virtual quantum particles which are off mass-shell are unstable, living a very short time before decay and they have a particular position in Feynman diagrams. Discovery of the Higgs boson involved observing off shell events. The concept of 'mass-shell' links Pythagoras to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, via Albert Einstein (1879-1955 CE) and Richard Feynman (1918-1988 CE) (see also Smashing Physics, Jon Butterworth, Headline, 2015 and Off mass-shell: Pythagoras to the LHC, via Einstein and Feynman, Jon Butterworth, The Guardian (blog), Sunday 6 April 2014 and Constraints on the off-shell Higgs boson signal strength in the high-mass ZZ and WW final states with the ATLAS detector, ATLAS Collaboration, Eur. Phys. J. C (2015) 75:335).

*Philosophy of Science
*History and Philosophy of Science
*Ancient Greek Scientists
*Epistemology - the study of knowledge and justified belief
*What is Epistemology?
*An introduction to Epistemology
*Rationalism versus Empiricism
*Galilean Library
*Chimie du temps qui passe
*Prisca Sapientia - Ancient Wisdom
*Scholarly Societies

*A timeline of mathematics and theoretical physics
*Lebombo Bone - Africa (35,000 BCE)
*Ishango Bone - Africa (23,000 BCE)
*Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri - Egypt

*Abu Ali al-Hasan Ibn al-Haitham or Alhazen - (965-1040 CE)
*Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan or Geber - (c.721-c.815 CE)
*Aristotle - (384-322 BCE)
*Aristotle's Logic - Organon
*Francis Bacon - (1561-1626)
*Novum Organon - Francis Bacon
*Roger Bacon - (1214-1294)
*Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - "Omega Point" & "Noosphere" (1881-1955 CE)
*Nicolaus Copernicus - (1473-1543)
*De Revolutionibus - Copernicus (1543 C.E.)
*Charles Robert Darwin - (1809-1882)
*Complete works of Charles Robert Darwin - Darwin
*The Origin of Species - Darwin (Ed. 1859)
*René Descartes - (1596-1650 CE)
*Meditationes de prima philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animae immortalitas demonstrantur - Descartes (1641)
*Discours de la méthode - René Descartes
*Euclid of Alexandria - (about 265 BCE)
*Euclid's Elements in Greek - Euclid
*Euclid's Elements - Euclid
*Nicolas Fatio de Duillier - (1664-1753 CE)
*The Cause of Gravity - Nicolas Fatio
*Paul Feyerabend - (1924-1994 CE)
*Galileo Galilei - (1564-1642 CE)
*Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno à due nuove scienze - Galilei
*Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo - Galilei
* Letter to The Grand Duchess Christina - Galilei (1615)
*The Trial of Galileo Galilei - Pope Urban VIII
*Vincenzo Galilei - father of Galileo (ca. 1525-1591 CE)
*Nelson Goodman - (1906-1998 CE)
*Johannes Kepler - (1571-1630 CE)
*The Music of the Spheres - Johannes Kepler
*Thomas Kuhn - (1922-1996 CE)
*Imre Lakatos - (1922-1974 CE)
*Gottfried Leibniz - (1646-1716 CE)
*Nicolas Malebranche - (1638-1715 CE)
*John Stuart Mill - (1806-1873 CE)
*Isaac Newton - (1643-1727 CE)
*De motu corporum in gyrum - Isaac newton (1684)
*Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica - Isaac Newton
*Theology, Prophecy, Science and Religion - Isaac Newton
*The Newton Project - Isaac Newton
*The Online Newton Project - Isaac Newton
*William of Ockham - (1288-1348 CE)
*Occam's Razor
*Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim or Paracelsus - (1493/94-1541)
*Paracelsus Project - Paracelsus
*Plato - (429-347 B.C.E.)
*Jules Henri Poincaré - (1854-1912 CE)
*Science and Hypothesis - Poincaré (1905)
*Karl Popper - (1902-1994)
*Bertrand Arthur William Russell - (1872-1970 CE)
*The Principles of Mathematics - Russell
*Willard Van Orman Quine - (1908-2000 CE)
*Two Dogmas of Empiricism - Van Orman Quine
*Giovanni Battista Vico - (1668-1744 CE)
*Scienza Nuova - Giovanni Battista Vico (1744)
*Leopold von Ranke - (1795-1886 CE) - founder of "scientific" history
*Alfred North Whitehead - (1861-1947 CE)

Political Philosophy

Political philosophy is the study of the fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, property, law and the enforcement of a legal code by authority. Political philosophy deals with the question what ought to be the relationship of an individual to society? It has its beginnings in ethics and in questions such as what kind of life is the good life for human beings.


Ancient political philosophy is understood here to mean ancient Greek and Roman thought from the classical period of Greek thought in the fifth century BCE to the end of the Roman empire in the West in the fifth century CE, excluding the rise of Christian ideas about politics during that period. Both Plato (429-347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE) developed political theories. Afterwards the hellenistic schools such as the Epicurists, Stoicists, Cynics and the Pyrrhonist skeptics developed political theories of their own. The Greek polis and the Roman 'res publica' played an important role in shaping political philosphies during atiquity.

Greek political though would also influence Rome. The Roman republican philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE) wrote about his political ideas in the De re publica, De legibus, and De officiis in which he emphasized the natural affinity for society and the existence of natural law. The Stoic imperial philosopher Seneca (ca. 3 BCE-65 CE) would write several treatises on politics of which the most well known is De clementia in which he puts foward the Stoic prinicple that the ruler needs to be supremely virtuous.


Plato (429-347 BCE) wrote on ethics and politics in the The Republic (380 BCE), Statesman (360 BCE), and the Laws (360 BCE). One of the most fundamental ethical and political concepts is justice. For Plato, government exists for the benefit of all citizens and all social classes, and must mediate between potentially conflicting interests. Such a mediating force is exercised in the ideal city of the Republic by the philosopher-rulers. The best, rational and righteous political order leads to the harmonious unity of a society and allows all the city's parts to pursue happiness but not at the expense of others.

Plato wrote his work on politics, The Republic (Greek: Politeia), as a Socratic dialogue written around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. In the dialogue Socrates along with various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man by considering a series of different cities coming into existence "in speech", culminating in a city ruled by philosopher-kings; and by examining the nature of existing regimes. The participants also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry in society. Plato explains his concept of The Forms as an answer to the problem of universals (Allegory of the Cave, Analogy of the divided line).

In The Republic Plato also introduced the concept of the "γενναιον πσευδος" (E: Noble Lie) a myth or untruth, often, but not invariably, of a religious nature, knowingly told by an elite to maintain social harmony or to advance an agenda. In The Republic Plato proposes government via the "γενναιον πσευδος" the necessary mythical justification for the status quo that guides the philosopher king in ruling society. It is a classical example of obscurantism. The obscurant favors restricting knowledge (publication, extension, dissemination) among the populace, for the "greater good" of the nation and the city-state.


Aristotle's (384-322 BCE) Politics has exerted a deep influence on political philosophy until the present day, because it contains deep and thought-provoking discussions of perennial concerns of political philosophy: the role of human nature in politics, the relation of the individual to the state, the place of morality in politics, the theory of political justice, the rule of law, the analysis and evaluation of constitutions, the relevance of ideals to practical politics, the causes and cures of political change and revolution, and the importance of a morally educated citizenry.

Politics for Aristotle is a practical science, since it is concerned with the noble action or happiness of the citizens. Political science studies the tasks of the politician or statesman (politikos), in much the way that medical science concerns the work of the physician. Aristotle's Politics (350 BCE) is a work of political philosophy and consists of 8 books. At the end of the Nicomachean Ethics (350 BCE) Aristotle declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the "philosophy of human affairs." Political science with Aristotle studies the tasks of the politician or statesman (politikos). It is, in fact, the body of knowledge that such practitioners, if truly expert, will also wield in pursuing their tasks. The most important task for the politician is, in the role of lawgiver (nomothetês), to frame the appropriate constitution for the city-state. This involves enduring laws, customs, and institutions (including a system of moral education) for the citizens. Aristotle's constitutional theory is based on his theory of justice, which is expounded in Nicomachean Ethics (book V). Aristotle in his Politics viewed human beings as intelligent agents, who could discern truth and seek good. His politics began with natural communities - families, clans, tribes, villages and towns - and recognised another form of human life that could be added to these, namely political life. He examined the possibilities for this kind of life always keeping in mind that its purpose was to bring about a better and, indeed, more virtuous life for all of those who composed the community. The activity of this life involves participating in judgements both about what is best and about how to achieve it. It means being active in the working out of our own futures.

Politics should develop a constitution aimed at the Common Good. A constitution should aim for the common good of all citizens and not for particular (self-) interest (e.g. lobbyists, interest groups, ...). Once the constitution is in place, the politician needs to take the appropriate measures to maintain it, to introduce reforms when he finds them necessary, and to prevent developments which might subvert the political system. This is the province of legislative science, which Aristotle regards as more important than politics as exercised in everyday political activity such as the passing of decrees. Aristotle does not take a decision on which type of government is best, as contrasted to Plato's philosopher-king, but states that a monarchy (government of one), aristocracy (government of few) and a Polity (government of many) are all possible forms of government. When the multitude governs according to the common advantage, then this system of government is called by the term also used to designate systems of government in general, namely, "polity", which for Aristotle is not the same as a democracy (which is a corrupted polity). Not the form of government is important, but it's aim for the common good. All three can diverge from the ideal systems (parekbasis) and be corrupted and aim only for the benefits of a part of the citizens (rulers): a monarchy can become a tyranny, an aristocracy can become an oligarchy, and a Polity can become a democracy (rule to the advantage of the poor, tyranny of the majority).

Middle Ages

Medieval political philosophy is the political philosophy produced in Western Europe between Boethius and Descartes, a period of over one thousand years. Both Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354-430 CE), Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) and Marsiglio da Padova (ca. 1275-ca. 1342 CE) would develop a political philosophy during the Middle Ages. The political philosophy of Augustine was based on Neoplatonism and the political philosophy of Thomas Aquinas was based on Aristotle. During the Western Middle Ages politics would be based on the feudal system. Feudalism emerged as a result of the decentralization of the (Roman) empire. It is a system which flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, and which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour. Feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals, and fiefs. Inequality of man was built into the feudal system and descended out of the divine order which also made human political relations asymmetrical: master to servant with mutual obligations. In the cities of of the Middle Ages, an alternative political system would develop, which would provide more freedom to the inhabitants of the cities ("City air makes you free") who engaged in trade and commerce.

Augustinian Political Philosophy

Politics, for Augustine, is the result of the Fall of man. That is, agreeing with Aristotle at the end of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (350 BCE) Augustine held that coercive government ought not to exist, but did so because of the actual condition of man. This condition was not ultimately rooted in nature or in the polis, but in the human will. Hence, evil will be operative no matter in what sort of actual city man lives. That is, good men can be found in the worst regimes and bad men in the best. Augustine continues one line of political thought from the classics, namely, that which sees it must account for the evil actions of men as a fact of the public order and one requiring some force to control them. The authorities in the state itself are not exempt from evil workings within themselves nor those of men.

The search for the highest things and the knowledge of the worst things, De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (426 CE), in Augustine's terms, was legitimate. But neither city, neither the one for nor the one against God, could be fully realized in this world. In this sense, Augustine was a direct inheritor of Plato. The central notion of political philosophy, then, the search for the best regime, was itself legitimate. This was a conclusion provided to political philosophy by revelation. Man was not in essence a futile or contradictory being who had been given unfulfillable desires or goals. Augustine insisted however that the fulfillment of these goals were not of man's making, though he did act. Grace, or the Kingdom of God, was primarily a gift, not a product of political prudence or art or action. This meant, however, that all actual cities, even though not the same, were defective and would remain so in theory. On the other hand, the question arose, how could proper human activity be primarily as a result of a gift which need not have been given? In other words, was there some intelligible connection between intelligence found in man and intelligence found in revelation? Protestant political philosophy would to a large extent be derived from Augustine and Plato as opposed to Roman Catholic political philosophy which would be derived from Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle.

Thomistic Political Philosophy

The confrontation of the Christian and feudal traditions with the rediscovery of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) constituted the main content of the work of Thomas Aquinas, mainly in his Summa Theologiae (1265). Thomas Aquinas' whole developed system is often understood to be simply a modification of Aristotelian philosophy in light of the Christian gospel and with special emphasis upon those questions most relevant to Christianity, such as the nature of the divine, the human soul, and morality.

Thomas Aquinas took up of all the questions in Aristotle, those of friendship, justice, and virtue. He directly related them to the virtues and ends of human life as presented in the revelational tradition. Thomas Aquinas also followed the Aristotelian concept of the Common Good as the goal for politics. The term "common good" names the end (or final cause) of political and social life in the tradition of moral thought that owes its main substance to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. It names a genuine good (bonum honestum) and not merely an instrumental or secondary good defeasible in the face of particular goods. However, at the same time, it does not override or subsume such goods. The good of individual persons and other groups is in an important way constitutive of the common good (bonum commune) in this classical conception. Human beings are understood in the Aristotelian tradition to be rational animals and political animals. The end of human association, then, is also a good, a good that makes that association intelligible. It is usually called the common good. The common good names the regulative principle of social and political life. Its most basic meaning is that the community and its institutions should serve the good of all its citizens and not just the restricted good of a particular ruler or class.

Further, in Thomistic politics there is the sense of completion or order that exists between philosophy properly understood and revelation. This order indicated the possible, non-contradictory responses to unanswered philosophic questions, such as friendship with God, the union of mind and spirit, the reward of the good and the punishment of evil. The Thomistic political philosophy would dominate politics during the High Middle ages. It would also retain some of the critical points of view of Aristotle concerning the right of citizens to participate and engage in politics. The political ideas of the Roman Catholic Church, even today, are inspired by the Thomistic and Aristotelian concept of the Common Good as the final cause of political and social life.

Marsilian Political Philosophy

Durante degli Alighieri (ca. 1265-1321 CE) had written De Monarchia, a treatise on secular and religious power in which he condemned the theocratic conception of the power elaborated by the Roman Church and put forward the principle of the "equal swords". De Monarchia would influence Marsiglio da Padova. Marsiglio da Padova (ca. 1275-ca. 1342 CE) is considered the first of the modern political philosophers and the last of the medievals. His most important work is the Defensor pacis (1324) which deals with the power struggle between Pope John XXII (1244-1334 CE) and Ludwig IV der Bayer (1282-1347 CE), the elected candidate for Holy Roman Emperor. In the Defensor pacis he argues by arguments from reason (in Dictio I of the text) and by argument from authority (in Dictio II) the independence of the Holy Roman Empire from the Papacy and the emptiness of the prerogatives alleged to have been usurped by the sovereign pontiffs. Marsiglio was a commentator on Aristotle, who held that Aristotle did not account for one key disruptive force in a polis, namely, the priest. Marsilius solved the conflict between worldly and spiritual power by reducing the priest to purely spiritual affairs. The king exercised purely material force for the good of the community, but the spiritual was privatized. In this sense, the single order in which all was placed under the polis became prevalent. The dual order with both reason and revelation of the medieval period came to an end. No longer one society and two swords, but a single polity and a single head. The spiritual was reduced to the inner conscience. Like the Franciscan William of Ockham (ca. 1285-1349 CE), Marsiglio da Padova was a nominalist, and both argue about the nature of the primacy of the will and the lack of order in nature, except on the basis of will. William of Ockham would write a series of books and pamphlets, arguing that Pope John XXII and his successor Benedict XII (died 1342) ought to be deposed. Pope John XXII rejected the Franciscan doctrine that those who practice the highest form of religious poverty, like Christ and the Apostles, will own nothing whatever, either as individuals or as a body.

Early modern era

In the late 15th century, with the decline of the North Italian trading cities, the discovery of America, the centre of politics and trade moved to Spain and Portugal, Holland and England. With the reformation of Luther, the Copernican revolution, the emergence of humanist thinking and the Renaissance, the medieval Christian worldview gradually eroded, and the old legal order collapsed.

Il Principe (1513) is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527 CE). It is the first work on what would later become "realpolitik" and would also become associated with "Machiavellism". In his work Niccolò Machiavelli would react to the static political world of the Middle Ages and thereby reject the Thomistic (Aristotelian) political order in the same way as Luther would do for theology and Copernicus for science. In the process he would restore the term virtue to its original philosophical meaning of excellence. Virtù, which for Machiavelli can be translated "prowes" and which is etymologically associated with "strength" and also "power", becomes the sum of those qualities that will enable the ruler to have his way with those under his dominion. Machiavelli, specifically denying the classical positions, held that we were not to look to what men ought to do, but what they did do. He differed from the classics and medievals who likewise knew what men did do in that he did not retain any primacy of ought by which we could distinguish good and evil within politics. What was good was simply what was successful, what was evil, what failed to retain power.

The 17th century was a major turning point of European scientific and intellectual history when Galilei and Kepler, Bacon and Descartes developed new scientific horizons. The civil war in England, and the 30 year's war in continental Europe would have a major impact on political philosophy. With the rejection of the Aristotelian and Thomistic philosophical heritage of the Middle Ages by René Descartes (1596-1650 CE) and his skepticism towards human knowledge lead to "Je pense donc je suis" or "Cogito ergo sum" (E: I think/know therefore I am, cogitare meaning 'to know'), political philosophy would also reject the Medieval framework. Political theory would be reconstructed from first principles (axiomatic, state of nature, law of nature) and rebuilt by geometric (Cartesian, Euclidean) reasoning. We could say that while during the Middle Ages politcal philosophy was founded in the Aristotelian-Catholic synthesis, it would now become founded in the Pythagorean-Platonic geometric tradition. Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury (1588-1679 CE) was a political philosopher who, with his book Leviathan (1651) established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory. Machiavelli and Hobbes, both saw man as autonomous and proceeds to construct the polis from premises which prescind from the order of being found in man as given by nature. Machiavelli and Hobbes were both pessimists for whom power was crucial. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645 CE) was a pragmatist or rationalist for whom cooperation matters. He contributed to the natural law theories of normativity which emerged in the later medieval and early modern periods. His most important works are De Indis (E: On the Indies), the Mare Liberum (1609), and the De jure belli ac pacis (1624). In the Mare Liberum he formulated the new principle that the sea was international territory and all nations were free to use it for seafaring trade. In De jure belli ac pacis Grotius constituted a theory of Just War.


During the Enlightenment, new theories about what the human was and is and about the definition of reality and the way it was perceived, along with the discovery of other societies in the Americas, and the changing needs of political societies with the English Civil War (1642-1651 CE), the American Revolution (1776 CE) and the French Revolution (1789-1799 CE), which led to new questions and insights by such thinkers as John Locke (1632-1704 CE), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778 CE), Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755 CE) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE). The two basic questions for Enlightenment polical philosophers were by what right or need do people form states and what the best form for a state could be.

John Locke (1632-1704 CE), would also start his political theory from the state of nature, but with a more optimistic view on man than Hobbes. His Two Treatises of Government ("Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, And His Followers, are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter is an Essay concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil-Government") was published anonymously in 1689. Locke believed that human nature is characterised by reason and tolerance. Like Hobbes, Locke believed that human nature allowed men to be selfish, but tis is an elightened self interest. In a natural state all people were equal and independent, and everyone had a natural right to defend his "Life, health, Liberty, or Possessions". Like Hobbes, Locke assumed that the sole right to defend in the state of nature was not enough, so people established a civil society to resolve conflicts in a civil way with help from government in a state of society.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778 CE) would further develop the concept of the Social Contract. In his works Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes (1755) and Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique (1762) he would elaborate his political philosophy. Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society. He would develop the idea of the generall wil, which is not the same as the will of all, but the true synthesis of the will of the people, who after discussion and reflection come to a common conclusion for the common good. Each of us places his person and authority under the supreme direction of the general will, and the group receives each individual as an indivisible part of the whole. Rousseau also started from a hypothetical State of Nature as a normative guide. The stated aim of the Social Contract is to determine whether there can be a legitimate political authority. In order to accomplish more and remove himself from the state of nature, man must enter into a Social Contract with others. In this social contract, everyone will be free because all forfeit the same amount of freedom and impose the same duties on all. Rousseau states that any government, whatever form it takes, should be divided into two parts. First, there must be the sovereign (which Rousseau states must consist of the whole population as opposed to modern representative parliamentary systems) who represents the general will and is the legislative power within the state. The second division is that of the government, being distinct from the sovereign. This division must be since the sovereign cannot deal with particular matters (it is then acting as particular wills and not the general will - the sovereign is no longer whole and therefore ruined), like applications of the law. Therefore a government must be separate from that of the sovereign body.

Rousseau holds an optimistic view on man in the state of nature and that "uncorrupted morals" prevail in the "state of nature". Rousseau wrote that morality was not a societal construct, but rather "natural" in the sense of "innate", an outgrowth from man's instinctive disinclination to witness suffering, from which arise the emotions of compassion or empathy. Morality for Rousseau was no longer founded in religion, neither was man tainted by "original sin" as with the Christian (Roman Catholic) philosophers since the Middle Ages.

De l'esprit des lois, is a treatise on political theory by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755 CE), published in 1748. In his classification of kinds of political systems, Montesquieu defines three main kinds: republican, monarchical, and despotic. Montesquieu argues that the executive, legislative, and judicial functions of government should be assigned to different bodies, so that attempts by one branch of government to infringe on political liberty might be restrained by the other branches. The bulk of the treatise, in fact, concerns how geography and climate interact with particular cultures to produce the "spirit" of a people. This spirit, in turn, inclines that people toward certain sorts of political and social institutions, and away from others. In 1751 the Catholic Church added L'esprit des lois to its Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Edmund Burke (1729-1797 CE) opposed the French Revolution and is considered to be the founder of modern Conservatism, as well as a representative of classical liberalism. Burke was one of the biggest supporters of the American Revolution. His most important work is the Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) in which he argued that the French Revolution would end disastrously because its abstract foundations, purportedly rational, ignored the complexities of human nature and society. Conservatism became a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE) saw the changes triggered by the French Revolution, and of the period of enlightenment, as well as of the Prussian and Napoleonic wars. Immanuel Kant would remain a political optimist for whom ideas and legal principles are vital. He developed his political views in essays such as Theorie und Praxis (1793) and Zum ewigen Frieden (1795) before its formal exposition in the Die Metaphysik der Sitten (1797). His mature social and political philosophy he put forward in Die Metaphysik der Sitten (1797) with the "Doctrine of Right" and the "Doctrine of Virtue". According to Kant "there is only one innate right", "Freedom (independence from being constrained by another's choice), insofar as it can coexist with the freedom of every other in accordance with a universal law". In Theorie und Praxis (1793) Kant states that besides freedom also "equality of each with every other as a subject" and "independence of every member of a commonwealth as a citizen" are basic priciples of the state. Kants treatise Zum ewigen Frieden (1795) inspired US-president Thomas Woodrow Wilson's (1856-1924 CE) vision for the League of Nations, as well as the Charter of the United Nations (26 June 1945). While the Hobbesian world was built on power, the Grotian world required cooperation, the Kantian world was based on a system of positive public law of the states to regulate political affairs internally, externally and between citizens and the state as well as between the cosmopolitan citizen and the international system. Their three worldviews focused on the classical dyad between peace and security or on war and peace, which we find also in the Covenant of the League of Nations (11 April 1919) and in the Charter of the United Nations.

François-René Chateaubriand (1768-1848 CE) first coined the term conservatism in 1819. Continental conservatism was part of the Counter-Enlightenment political movement such as Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821 CE) and Louis de Bonald (1754-1840 CE). Continental conservatives did not support separation of Church and state, with most supporting state recognition of and cooperation with the Catholic Church, such as had existed in France before the Revolution during the Ancien Régime.

Modern political philosophy

In the 19th century liberalism, socialism and communism would accompany the growing industrialization. Karl Marx (1818-1883 CE) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895 CE) wrote the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848) (E: Manifesto of the Communist Party) as a program for the Communist League. This would be the starting point for the development of communism.

The liberal-communitarian debate between liberalism on one side and socialism and communism on the other side continues until today. Another duality exists between liberals and conservatives. Religious political philosophy takes an intermediate position in-between both opposites, depending upon the issue which is being considered.

United States Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

The end of law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.
John Locke (1690) - Essay concerning Human Understanding

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights;
that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ...
- The U.S. Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776.
Hapiness is used here in the meaning of the Epicurean and Aristotelian concept of Eudaimonia.

Handle so, dass die Maxime deines Wirkens als Prinzip einer allgemein das Recht verwaltenden
weltbürgerlichen Verfassung gedacht werden kann.
Ralf Dahrendorf - Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Ordnung

*Forms of governement
*Form of government
*Types of government
*The Avalon Project at Yale Law School - Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
*Political Philosophy
*Political Philosophy - links
*Medieval Political Philosophy
*Medieaval Political Theory
*Ancien Régime
*Just war theory
*Failed state

*Dudodecim Tabularum Leges - (449 BCE)
*The Laws of the Twelve Tables - (449 BCE)
*The Athenian Constitution - (350 BCE)
*Magna Carta Libertatum - 1215
*Hugo Grotius - (1583-1645)
*De Jure Belli ac Pacis - Hugo Grotius
*Peace of Westphalia or Treaties of Münster and Osnabrück - 1648
*Habeas Corpus Act - 1679

*Universal Declaration of Human Rights - UN
*Universele Verklaring van de Rechten van de Mens - MP3, Dutch
*Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms - EU
*Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen - F
*Déclaration des droits de l'enfant 20 novembre 1959 - F

*The Republic - Plato
*Dante Alighieri (1265-1321 CE)
*Convivio - Dante
*Monarchia - Dante
*Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527 CE)
*Il Principe - Niccolò Machiavelli
*Discorsi sopra la prima Deca di Tito Livio - Niccolò Machiavelli
*Thomas Hobbes - (1588-1679)
*The Leviathan - Thomas Hobbes (1660)
*Benjamin Franklin - (1706-1790 CE)
*Benjamin Franklin - tercenary
*George Washington - (1732-1799 CE)
*Farewell Address of George Washington - 1796
*Thomas Paine - (1737-1809 CE)
*Common Sense - Thomas Paine (1776)
*The Rights of Man - Thomas Paine (1776)
*Thomas Jefferson - (1743-1826 CE)
*Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom - Thomas Jefferson (1779)
*John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946 CE)

*The Jacobin Club
*The Jacobin Club

*History of Democracy
*History of democracy
*Words of Freedom
*What is Democracy ?
*Founding Fathers of the United States
*Online Library of Liberty
*The National Endowment for Democracy - NED
*Core Documents of U.S. Democracy
*The Federalist Papers - USA
*History of the Separation of Church and State in America - USA
*The Constitution Society
*United States Constitution - USA
*Bill Of Rights - USA
*Civnet Website

*History of the European Union - The European Citizenship
*History of the European Union
*History of the European Union - Chronology
*Treaty of Rome - 25 March 1957
*Jean Monnet
*Association Jean Monnet
*Robert Schuman
*Robert Schuman Declaration - 9 May 1950
*Fondation Robert Schuman


Liberalism is an ideology, philosophy, and political tradition which holds liberty as the primary political value. Liberalism was rooted in British Empiricism and Newtonianism and became a powerful force in the Age of Enlightenment. Liberalism replaced the capricious nature of royalist and absolutist rule with a decision-making process encoded in written law. Political liberalism stresses the social contract, under which citizens make the laws and agree to abide by those laws. It is based on the belief that individuals know best what is best for them. Political liberalism enfranchises all adult citizens regardless of sex, race, or economic status. Political liberalism emphasizes the rule of law and supports liberal democracy. By definition, "a liberal is a man who believes in liberty" in Freedom: A New Analysis (1954) by Maurice Cranston (1920-1993 CE). The Fundamental Liberal Principle holds that restrictions on liberty must be justified for all citizens. Liberalism has several branches, such as classical and modern liberalism, social liberalism, and pragmatic liberalism. In classical liberalism, liberty and private property are intimately related in contrast to modern liberalism liberalism which challenges the intimate connection between personal liberty and a private property based market order (see also An Intellectual History of Liberalism, Pierre Manent, Princeton University Press, 1996 and Contemporary Theories of Liberalism: Public Reason as a Post-Enlightenment Project, Gerald F Gaus, SAGE, 2003 and Liberalism, L. T. Hobhouse,, 2010).

John Locke (1632-1704 CE), widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. The most central concept in Locke's political philosophy is his theory of natural law and natural rights. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence (1776). In his Letters Concerning Toleration (1689-1692 CE) in the aftermath of the European wars of religion, Locke formulated a classic reasoning for religious tolerance. The Two Treatises of Government(1689) was published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke. In the First Treatise Locke attacks patriarchalism in the form of sentence-by-sentence refutation of Robert Filmer's (1588-1653 CE) Patriarcha, or The Natural Power of Kings (1680) and the doctrine of the divine and absolute right of the Monarch. In the Second Treatise Locke outlines a theory of political or civil society based on natural rights and contract theory. Locke hereby develops a theory which would reconcile the liberty of the citizen with political order (see also John Locke's Liberalism, Ruth W. Grant, University of Chicago Press, 2010 and John Locke and Modern Life, Lee Ward, Cambridge University Press, 2010).

The Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE) had discussed a human being's natural right to "life, liberty, and safety". John Locke in his Two Treatises of Government put forward the Epicurean ideal that people had a natural right to "life, liberty, and property". This Epicurean principle would find its way into the United States Declaration of Independence of 4 July 4 1776: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" (see also The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the Argument of the 'Two Treatises of Government', John Dunn Cambridge University Press, 1982 and Epicurus in the Enlightenment, Nr. 12, Voltaire Foundation, Voltaire Foundation, 2009, p. 54).

According to John Locke, political power is the natural power of each man collectively and voluntarily given up into the hands of a designated body. The setting up of government is much less important for Lock than this original social-political "compact". A community surrenders some degree of its natural rights in favor of government, which is better able to protect those rights than any man could alone. Because government exists solely for the well-being of the community, any government that breaks the compact can and should be replaced. The community has a moral obligation to revolt against or otherwise replace any government that forgets that it exists only for the good of the people. Locke felt it was important to closely examine public institutions and be clear about what functions were legitimate and what areas of life were inappropriate for those institutions to participate in or exert influence over. He also believed that determining the proper role of government would allow humans to flourish as individuals and as societies, both materially and spiritually. Because God gave man the ability to reason, the freedom that a properly executed government provides for humans amounts to the fulfillment of the divine purpose for humanity. For Locke, the moral order of natural law is permanent and self-perpetuating. Governments are only factors contributing to that moral order (see also The Mind of John Locke: A Study of Political Theory in Its Intellectual Setting, Ian Harris, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 103).

Locke in his political philosophy argues that God gave us our capacity for reason to aid us in the search for truth. As God's creations, we know that we must preserve ourselves. To help us, God created in us a natural aversion to misery and a desire for happiness, so we avoid things that cause us pain and seek out pleasure instead. We can reason that since we are all equally God's children, God must want everyone to be happy. If one person makes another unhappy by causing him pain, that person has rejected God's will. Therefore, each person has a duty to preserve other people as well as himself. Recognizing the responsibility to preserve the rights of all humankind naturally leads to tolerance, the notion that forms the basis for Locke's belief in the separation of church and state. If we all must come to discover the truth through reason, then no one man is naturally better able to discover truth than any other man. For this reason, political leaders do not have the right to impose beliefs on the people. Because everything we understand comes through experience and is translated by reason, no outside force can make us understand something in conflict with our own ideas. Locke insists that if men were to follow the government blindly, they would be surrendering their own reason and thus violating God's law, or natural law (see also John Locke's Politics of Moral Consensus, Greg Forster, Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 104).

The right to private property is the cornerstone of Locke's political theory, encapsulating how each man relates to God and to other men. Locke explains that man originally exists in a state of nature in which he need answer only to the laws of nature. In this state of nature, men are free to do as they please, so long as they preserve peace and preserve mankind in general. Because they have a right to self-preservation, it follows that they have the right to those things that will help them to survive and be happy. God has provided us with all the materials we need to pursue those ends, but these natural resources are useless until men apply their efforts to them. For example, a field is useless until it produces food, and no field will produce food until someone farms it. Locke proposes that because all men own their bodies completely, any product of their physical labor also belongs to them. Thus, when a man works on some good or material, he becomes the owner of that good or material. The man who farms the land and has produced food owns the land and the food that his labor created. The only restriction to private property is that, because God wants all his children to be happy, no man can take possession of something if he harms another in doing so. He cannot take possession of more than he can use, for example, because he would then be wasting materials that might otherwise be used by another person. Unfortunately, the world is afflicted by immoral men who violate these natural laws. By coming together in the social-political compact of a community that can create and enforce laws, men are guaranteed better protection of their property and other freedoms (see also John Locke and the Origins of Private Property: Philosophical Explorations of Individualism, Community, and Equality, Matthew H. Kramer, Cambridge University Press, 2004).

The Scottish philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790 CE), wrote An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1766) on classical liberalism and thereby opposing mercantilism. Adam Smith developed the theory of labor and he argued that free market economies were more productive and beneficial to their societies. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832 CE) was the founder of utilitarianism. Bentham was in favour of individual and economic freedom, usury, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. Utilitarianism states that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness" (compare also Aristotelian Eudaimonia). Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, and that one can only weigh the morality of an action after knowing all its consequences. Both Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill contributed to the theory of utilitarianism. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873 CE) was an influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. Mill was an important figure in liberal political philosophy. His work On Liberty (1859) supported individuals' moral and economic freedom from the state. The famous Harm Principle, or the principle of liberty, is also articulated in this work: the state or any other social body has no right to coerce or restrict the individual unless the individual causes harm to others, crucially, the individual's own physical or moral harm is not justification for constriction of their liberty (see also Liberalism, Democracy and Development, Sylvia Chan, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 41 and Utilitarianism and Other Essays, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Penguin UK, 2004).

Ludwig H. E. von Mises (1881-1973 CE) was a classical liberal and one of the members of the Austrian School of economic thought. His most importan work is Human Action: A Treatise on Economics in which he made the case for laissez-faire capitalism. Friedrich August Hayek (1899-1992 CE), a disciple of Mises, was a proponent of classical liberalism and free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought. Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997 CE) contributed to liberal theory and value pluralism. In his Two Concepts of Liberty (1958) Berlin defined positive and negative liberty. Positive liberty may be understood as self mastery; and includes one's having a role in choosing who governs the society of which one is a part. Negative liberty is the area within which the subject - a person or group of persons - is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons. John Rawls (1921-2002 CE) in his work A Theory of Justice (1971 CE) developed the theory of "Justice as Fairness", from which he derived his two principles of justice: the liberty principle and the difference principle. Amartya Sen (b. 1933 CE) and Martha Nussbaum (b. 1947 CE) wrote The Quality of Life (1993) in which they developed the "apability approach" which core focus is on what individuals are able to do (i.e., capable of). Capabilities are viewed as the constitutive parts of development, and poverty as capability-deprivation. This contrasts with traditional utilitarian views that see development purely in terms of economic growth, and poverty purely as income-deprivation. This (Aristotelian, potentiality) approach is also universalist, and therefore contrasts with relativist approaches to development. The capability approach seeks to determine the basic principles, and adequate measure thereof, would fulfill a life of human dignity (see also Aristotelian Eudaimonia) (see also The Essential Von Mises, Murray Newton Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1973 and The Economics of F.A. Hayek: Capitalism, socialism, and knowledge, Friedrich August Hayek, Marina Colonna, Harald Hagemann, O. F. Hamouda, E. Elgar, 1994 and Isaiah Berlin: Liberty, Pluralism and Liberalism, George Crowder, Polity, 2004 and John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice, Thomas Winfried Menko Pogge, Oxford University Press, 2007 and Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, Amartya Sen, Oxford University Press, 1999 and Capabilities and Social Justice: The Political Philosophy of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, John M. Alexander, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008).


Neoliberalism is a label for economic liberalism, which advocates - under reference to neoclassical economic theory - support for great economic liberalization, privatization, free trade, open markets, deregulation, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy. The implementation of neoliberalism as a system of government in some cases had catastrophic results for the poor and it widened the gap between the different social strata of society. Economic liberalization of course can lead to destructive production and (self-)destructive consumption as production and consumption have both positive and negative aspects. The same psychological mechanism which makes producers of goods and services to go for profit beyond reasonable limits, makes consumers choose products and services so cheap they can only be produced by a disproportional negative impact on human and natural resources. Freedom is just not easy to deal with (see also The Ethics of Human Resources and Industrial Relations, John W. Budd, James G. Scoville, Cornell University Press, 2005 and Individuals, Groups, and Business Ethics, Chris Provis, Routledge, 2012 and Ethical Consumption: A Critical Introduction, Tania Lewis, Emily Potter, Routledge, 2013).

The Washington Consensus of John Williamson (1937- CE) put forward policies in such areas as macroeconomic stabilization, economic opening with respect to both trade and investment, and the expansion of market forces within the domestic economy. The two chief modes of failure of liberal economic policies are usually due to imperfect property rights and due to imperfect information. Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992 CE) put forward that classical liberalism will not work without protection of the private sphere and the prevention of fraud and deception. In classical and social liberalism freedom for one person is not meant to cause the reduction of freedom of another person. Liberalism deals with both positive (capability development, protection from abuse and exploitation) and negative liberty and negative and positive rights, which have to be taken into account when implementing liberal politics in society (see also A Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey, Oxford University Press, 2005 and Liberalism, Neoliberalism, Social Democracy, Mark Olssen, Routledge, 2009 and Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, Amartya Sen, Oxford University Press, 1999 and The Washington Consensus Reconsidered: Towards a New Global Governance, Narcís Serra, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Oxford University Press, 2008 and Neoliberalism, Susan Braedley, Meg Luxton, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2010).

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill.

1. Man is first and foremost a being endowed with the power of independent thought and action,
and with the ability to distinguish right from wrong.
2. Respect for the human person and for the family is the true basis of society.
Oxford Manifesto of 1947

....if by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties....
if that is what they mean by a liberal then I am proud to be a liberal.
USA President John F. Kennedy - Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party nomination (14 September 1960)

The fundamental sense of freedom is freedom from chains, from imprisonment,
from enslavement by others. The rest is extension of this sense, or else metaphor.
-Isaiah Berlin-

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority;
the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities
(and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).
-Ayn Rand-

*Contributions to Liberal Theory
*The Reason Foundation
*Social Contract

*John Locke (1632-1704)
*Jean-Jacques Rousseau - (1712-1778)
*The Social Contract - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
*Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755)
*De l'esprit des lois - Montesquieu (1758)
*Adam Smith - (1723-1790)
*Jeremy Bentham - (1748-1832)
*Frédéric Bastiat - (1801-1850)
*Frédéric Bastiat - (1801-1850)
*La Loi - Frédéric Bastiat
*John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
*Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
*Democracy in America - Alexis de Tocqueville
*Robert Green Ingersoll - (1833-1899)
*Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992)
*Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997)
*Isaiah Berlin - Virtual library
*Ludwig von Mises - Institute
*John Rawls (1921-2002)


Socialism and Communism


Socialism is a political philosophy advocating a system in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people. Socialism was founded in continental philosophy, Hegelian dialectic and evolution theory. Collective control of the means of production may be either direct, exercised through popular collectives such as workers' councils, or it may be indirect, exercised through a State. In the latter case, the issue of who controls the state is crucial. A primary concern of socialism (and, according to some, its defining feature) is social equality and an equitable distribution of wealth that would serve the interests of society as a whole.

Modern socialism originated from an 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticised the effects of industrialisation and private property on society. Utopian socialists such as Robert Owen (1771-1858 CE), tried to found self-sustaining communes by secession from a capitalist society. Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825 CE), who coined the term socialisme, advocated technocracy and industrial planning. Socialists advocated the creation of a society that allows for the widespread application of modern technology to rationalise economic activity by eliminating the anarchy of capitalist production that results in instability and cyclical crises of overproduction.

Eight hours' daily labor is enough for any [adult] human being, and under proper arrangements sufficient to afford an ample supply of food,
raiment and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and for the remainder of his time,
every person is entitled to education, recreation and sleep.
Robert Owen, Society for Promoting National Regeneration, 1833

*Socialist International
*World Socialist Webpage
*Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon - (1760-1825 CE)
*Robert Owen - (1771-1858 CE)
*Charles Fourier - (1772-1832 CE)


Communism is a political ideology that seeks to establish a future classless, stateless social organization based upon common ownership of the means of production. It can be classified as a radical branch of the broader socialist movement.
In 1848 Karl Marx (1818-1883 CE) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895 CE) wrote the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848) (E: Manifesto of the Communist Party) as a program for the Communist League. The manifesto presented the communist analysis of the class struggle and the problems of capitalism. The manifesto was published during the revolutionary uprisings which went throught Europe in 1848 and which became known as the "Spring of Nations", "Springtime of the Peoples" or the "Year of Revolution". Karl Marx wrote his magnum opus Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (Band I, Band II, Band III) in 1867, which was a critical analysis of capitalism as a political economy. Das Kapital was meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production, and how it was the precursor of the socialist mode of production. Marx elaborated his labour theory of value and his conception of surplus value and exploitation which he argued would ultimately lead to a falling rate of profit and the collapse of industrial capitalism. For Marx the core of the capitalist system lies at the complete separation of the producer from the means of production. Karl Marx was influenced by the dialectic principles of the Critical Philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831 CE) and the theory of evolution, which was developed by Charles Darwin (1809-1882 CE). Part of the materialist foundations of the philosophy of Karl Marx can be traced back to his doctoral dissertation on atomism: Differenz der demokritischen und epikureischen Naturphilosophie (1841). In his Thesen über Feuerbach (1845) and Die deutsche Ideologie (1845-1846 CE) Karl Marx would write on his materialistic view on history. In the famous ninth These über Feuerbach Marx would put forward his activist motto "Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert; es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern" (E: Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it).

Communism was implemented in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1922 until 1990, several Eastern European states, the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Cuba and several other countries around the world. Although the political systems in those countries were all known as communism, they differed in their practical implementation, such as with Leninism and Stalinism in the USSR and Maoism in China. As opposed to the theory which was developed by Karl Marx, communism never developed in mature capitalistic societies.

Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei by Karl Marx
Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels, Februar 1848.

Ein Gespenst geht um in Europa - das Gespenst des Kommunismus.
Alle Mächte des alten Europa haben sich zu einer heiligen Hetzjagd gegen dies Gespenst verbündet,
der Papst und der Czar, Metternich und Guizot, französische Radikale und deutsche Polizisten. ...
Marx/Engels, Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, Einleitung, 1948.

Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch
Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert;
es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern.
Karl Marx tombstone, Highgate Cemetery in London, United Kingdom.

*Karl Marx - (1818-1883 CE)
*Communist Manifesto
*Friederich Engels - (1820-1895 CE)
*Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels - Werke
*Vladimir Ilyich Lenin - (1870-1924 CE)
*Leon Trotski - (1879-1940 CE)
*Karl Liebknecht - (1871-1919 CE)
*Rosa Luxemburg - (1871-1919 CE)
*On the Spartacus Programme - Rosa Luxemburg (1918 CE)

Religion and politics - religiously inspired political philosophy

The relation between politics and religion is a complex one. The term theocracy is commonly used to describe a form of government in which a religion or faith plays the dominant role. Properly speaking, it refers to a form of government in which the organs of the religious sphere replace or dominate the organs of the political sphere.

*Religion and politics
*Kingdom of God
*Separation of church and state
*Harmony of Church and State
*State religion
*Holy War

Christianity and Politics

The relationship between Christianity and politics is a historically complex subject, and both left- and rightwing politicians draw their inspiration from Christianity (see also Christianity and Politics: A Brief Guide to the History, C.C. Pecknold, Cascade, 2010). In Roman Catholicism, papal involvement in politics was not always beneficial to the institute and its religious and moral authority, such as during the Tenth and Eleventh Century. Modern developments lead to the acceptance of democracy. Christian Democracy is a heterogeneous political ideology. However, there is general agreement on certain issues. Broadly speaking, Christian democracy is conservative in regard to moral or cultural issues, but with a strong social conscience (which might seem characteristic of left-wing politics) that especially affects economic policy. (see also Court and Politics in Papal Rome, 1492-1700, Gianvittorio Signorotto, Maria Antonietta Visceglia, Cambridge University Press, 2004). Christian politics is also based on Christian anthropology which defines man in his relation to God (see also Of God and man: theology as anthropology from Irenaeus to Athanasius, Steenberg M.C., London: T & T Clark, 2009 and The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation, Reinhold Niebuhr, Westminster John Knox Press, 1996). Like most religions, Christianity claims the public domain as an omnipotent God is active always and everywhere and has to be obeyed by everyone and everywhere (see also The Global Face of Public Faith, David Hollenbach, SJ, Georgetown University Press, 2003).

Protestantism is more diverse than Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church in its interactions with politics. Protestant churches, movements, and thinkers have played and continue to play important roles on all sides of most issues. Protestantism was a significant influence in the development of modern capitalism, but was also important in the evolution of socialist thought. Protestantism has been a major force in the struggle against racism, but it also helped provide legitimation for racial segregation and apartheid. Protestantism has been a principal support for pacifism, but it has also been in a league with nationalistic movements and war efforts of one kind or another. Protestantism has encouraged human rights and political freedom, but it has in some instances been a factor in the emergence of totalitarianism (see also The Teachings of Modern Protestantism: On Law, Politics, and Human Nature, John Witte, Columbia University Press, 2007 and The Blackwell Companion to Protestantism, Ch. 27. Protestantism and Politics, Economics, and Sociology, J. Philip Wogaman, Wiley-Blackwell, 2003).

Christianity began its march from a Jewish sect towards political power when state persecution ceased in the Roman Empire in the 4th century CE, when Emperor Constantine I (306-337 CE) issued an edict of toleration in 313 CE. On 27 February 380 CE, Emperor Theodosius I enacted a law establishing Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. From at least the 4th century, Christianity has played a role in the shaping of Western politics. Pope Leo I (ca. 391 or 400-461 CE) was pope from 29 September 440 to his death. This pope was a significant contributor to the centralization of spiritual authority within the Church and in reaffirming papal authority. The Roman Catholic Church as such (primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the Church in the Western Roman Empire) was established in 444 CE when the Roman Emperor Valentinian III (425-455 CE), acting in conjunction with the bishop of Rome (Pope) Leo I the Great, issued the famous Novel 17, which assigned to the bishop of Rome supremacy over the provincial churches in the Western Roman Empire. "Certum est et nobis et imperio nostro unicum esse praesidium in supernae divinitatis favore, ad quem promerendum praecipue Christiana fides et veneranda nobis religio suffragatur. Cum igitur sedis apostolicae primatum sancti Petri meritum, ..."

Justinian I (ca. 482-565 CE), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565 CE. He would build the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople which was to be the center of Christianity and established the Church as a State Church where the Emperor would rule over the Empire and the Church with the pope serving the Emperor. Justinian took a despotic stance toward the popes. Justinian's religious policy reflected the Imperial conviction that the unity of the Empire unconditionally presupposed unity of faith; and it appeared to him obvious that this faith could be only the Orthodox (Nicaean). Later on the papacy would try to establish a counterpart for the Byzantine Emperor by creating the title of Imperator Romanorum. Charlemagne (ca. 742-814 CE) was crowned Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III (died 816 CE) on 25 December 800 and the papacy thereby tried to improve its inferior position towards Contantinople. Charlemagne was usurping the prerogatives of the Roman Emperor in Constantinople simply by sitting in judgement over the Pope in the first place (see also The Ancient World, Volume 35, Nrs. 1-2, Ares Publishers, 2004, p. 73).

In 749 CE Pope Zachary (679-752 CE) consolidated the alliance with the Carolingian family, by allowing the transfer of the royal title from the powerless Merovingian title holder to the Pepin (ca. 714-768 CE), the mayor of the palace and actua; holder of power in France. The events are described in the the contemporary Annales laureshamenses or Annals of Lorsch. The Donation of Pepin, the first in 754 CE, and second in 756 CE, provided a legal basis for the formal organizing of the "Status Pontificius", which inaugurated papal temporal rule over civil authorities. The "Status Pontificius" or Papal States would last until the unification of Italy in 1861 CE (see also Pilgrim Church: A Popular History of Catholic Christianity, William J. Bausch, Carol Ann Cannon, Robert E. Obach, Twenty-Third Publications, 1989).

The Donatio Constantini was a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I (306-337 CE) supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the Western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. The document was used in the struggle for power between the pope and the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, such as by Pope Leo IX (1002-1054 CE) in 1054 CE. His citing of the Donation of Constantine in a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople also brought about the Great Schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Lorenzo Valla (ca. 1407-1457 CE) would in his Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine prove that the Donatio Constantini was a forgery (see also Donation of Constantine and Constitutum Constantini: The Misinterpretation of a Fiction and Its Original Meaning, Johannes Fried, Walter de Gruyter, 2007 and Introduction to Medieval Europe 300-1500, Wim Blockmans, Peter Hoppenbrouwers, Routledge, 2014, p. 193).

The Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals are the most extensive and influential set of forgeries found in medieval Canon law. The authors were a group of Frankish clerics writing in the second quarter of the ninth century under the pseudonym Isidore Mercator. They aimed to defend the position of bishops against metropolitans and secular authorities by creating false documents purportedly authored by early popes, together with interpolated conciliar documents. Together with the Decretum Gratiani or Concordia discordantium canonum (1140 CE) they would form the basis of Roman Catholic Canon Law or Corpus Iuris Canonici of 1582 the Codex Iuris Canonici of 1917/1918 and the Codex Iuris Canonici of 1983 (see also Medieval Justice: Cases and Laws in France, England and Germany, 500-1500, Hunt Janin, McFarland, 2004, p. 28 and Papal Letters in the Early Middle Ages, Detlev Jasper, Horst Fuhrmann, CUA Press, 2001, p. 137).

Pope Urban II (ca. 1035-1099 CE) started the First Crusade (1096-1099 CE) and established up the modern-day Roman Curia in the manner of a royal court to help run the Church. The Investiture Controversy lead to conflicts between pope Gregory VII (ca. 1015/1028-1085 CE), Urban II (ca. 1035-1099 CE) and Paschal II (died 1118 CE) against the monarchs of Europe in regard to just who had the right, whether kings or bishops, to invest bishops and archbishops with their ecclesiastical offices. The entire controversy was finally resolved by the compromise of the Concordat of Worms (Pactum Calixtinum) in 1122 CE. The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204 CE) was initiated in 1202 CE by Pope Innocent III (1160 or 1161-1216 CE) and which turned against Constantinople. The Crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204, and established the so-called Latin Empire (1204-1261 CE) and a series of other Crusader states throughout the territories of the Greek Byzantine Empire (see also The Crusades, C.1071-c.1291, Jean Richard, Cambridge University Press, 1999 and The Investiture Controversy: Church and Monarchy from the Ninth to the Twelfth Century, Uta-Renate Blumenthal, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

The Fourth Crusade would provide the West with an influx of Greek philosophical writings, which would provide Thomas Aquinas with the philosophical foundations for his political philosophy. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) would define the political doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in his Summa Contra Gentiles (1270-1273 CE) and the Summa Theologica (1265-1274 CE), based on the Politics and Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle (384-322 BCE), where politics was defined as to be for the common good. Moral and political philosophy for Aquinas, then, is the set or sets of concepts and propositions which, as principles and precepts of action, pick out the kinds of chosen action that are truly intelligent and reasonable for human individuals and political communities, together with the arguments necessary to justify those concepts and propositions in the face of doubts, or at least to defend them against objections. It is a fundamentally practical philosophy of principles which direct us towards human fulfillment (Aristotelian eudaimonia) so far as that happier state of affairs is both constituted and achievable by way of the actions that both manifest and build up the excellences of character traditionally called virtues by Aristotle. On 18 November 1302, Pope Boniface VIII issued the Papal bull Unam sanctam in which the pope further emphasizes the higher position of the spiritual in comparison with the secular order. This would change the balance of power based on the Doctrine of the "Two Swords". Papal power would suffer from the Western Schism (1378-1418 CE) and from the Protestant Reformation (see also A Companion to the Great Western Schism (1378-1417), Joëlle Rollo-Koster, Thomas M. Izbicki, BRILL, 2009 and The Protestant Reformation: Revised Edition, Hans J. Hillerbrand, HarperCollins, 2009).

In 19th century Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903 CE) grieved at the twin evils of liberalism and socialism, which he foresaw imperiling the peace of the coming century. His solution was the 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, On Capital and Labor which stood firmly in the Thomistic and Aristotelian tradition. Rerum Novarum introduced the idea of subsidiarity, the principle that political and social decisions should be taken at a local level, if possible, rather than by a central authority. The pope reacted to the centralised power of the modern (nation-) state and the principle of sovereignty or the principle of superiority - with an impetus towards subordination. In the view of the pope the modern state so imposed its sovereignty that persons and smaller (Catholic) communities were crushed or unable to function effectively, it became necessary to insist on subsidiarity. Subisidiarity also enables the Catholic organizations to develop intermediary (subsidized) structures in between the (secular) state and the (Christian) nation. Subsidiarity holds that social functions that can be performed at a lower level should not be performed at a higher level. This principle itself is grounded in the diversity of functions and goods that make up society and the good of autonomy itself for persons and groups. Persons more fully pursue and maintain particular goods when they can do so freely and according to their own practical reason. A free society allows for the cultivation of more goods and allows for their cultivation more fully than one that is centrally directed and in which all parts are considered mere instruments for the transmission of central authority. The fundamental idea behind subsidiarity is that common ownership would lead to what economists sometimes call a "tragedy of the commons" in which no one exercises adequate care for common resources (what belongs to everyone belongs to no one). Private ownership, together with a sense of the common good, would more adequately guarantee that the particular goods of the family and economy were properly cared for (see also Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Georgetown University Press, 2005).

The encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (15 May 1931 CE) by Pope Pius XI (1857-1939 CE) discussed the ethical implications of the social and economic order. Pope Pius XI described the major dangers for human freedom and dignity arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism. He also called for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity. The encyclical Mater et Magistra (15 May 15 1961 CE) by Pope John XXIII (1881-1963 CE) on the topic of "Christianity and Social Progress". It describes a necessity to work towards authentic community in order to promote human dignity. It taught that the state must sometimes intervene in matters of health care, education, and housing. The encyclical repeats the Thomistic and Aristotelian concept of the Common Good as the basis for politics and economics. Pope Benedict XVI published his social encyclical Caritas in Veritate on 7 July 2009. The encyclical deals with the problems of global development and progress towards the common good, arguing that both Love and Truth are essential elements of an effective response (see also Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Georgetown University Press, 2005).

Roman Catholic economic politics as such can be described as corporatism and is implemented in Western Europe as the Rhineland model (see also Capitalisme contre Capitalisme from Michel Albert), as an alternative (Third Way) for liberalism (capitalism) and marxism (communism). Corporatism (workers and owners form one body, lat. corpus) recognizes the innate inequality of human beings, and their need for secure places in a legitimate hierarchy and thus puts the political power of the state behind officially sanctioned Corporations. Corporatism wants to end the class struggle by guaranteeing workers their accustomed jobs and incomes, and by delegating traditional authority through a principle of subsidiarity. Corporatism does uncouple the people from their government as the Corporations act as intermediaries representing special interest groups. Although the state as such may still be democratic, the nation itself is not, in a society where corporatism acts as intermediary organizing structures beyond democratic representation and control (see also Corporatism and Comparative Politics: The Other Great Ism, Howard J. Wiarda, M.E. Sharpe, 1996 and Corporatism in Perspective: An Introductory Guide to Corporatist Theory, Peter J. Williamson, Sage, 1989).

On the international level the Vatican as a state is still an outsider. The Vatican is not a member of the United Nations and has not signed the European Convention on Human Rights (see also Caritas in Veritate of 2009). For the Roman Catholic Church human rights are arbitrary and it denies their unconditional nature, because they don't come from God. Church doctrine, not human rights, has to be the final arbiter for everyone in the public domain. Although the Vatican signed the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child it still considers its Canon Law (1983) to outweight secular law and international agreements. This approach to man-made law has the consequence that priests are regarded to speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon Law, the Catholic Church's own system of governance (see also Inside the Vatican, Thomas J. Reese, Harvard University Press, 1998).

Deo duce, ferro comitante.
Motto of the Caulfield and Charlemont family

consurrexit autem Satan contra Israhel et incitavit David ut numeraret Israhel
Vulgata, 1 Chronicle, 21:1

nolite arbitrari quia venerim mittere pacem in terram non veni pacem mittere sed gladium
Vulgata, Matthew, 10:34

dicunt ei Caesaris tunc ait illis reddite ergo quae sunt Caesaris Caesari et quae sunt Dei Deo
Vulgata, Matthew, 22:21

... sed nunc qui habet sacculum tollat similiter et peram et qui non habet vendat tunicam suam et emat gladium
Vulgata, Lucas, 22:36

... regnum meum non est de mundo hoc si ex hoc mundo esset regnum meum ministri mei
decertarent ut non traderer Iudaeis nunc autem meum regnum non est hinc
Vulgata, John, 18:36

omnis anima potestatibus sublimioribus subdita sit non est enim potestas nisi a Deo quae autem sunt a Deo ordinatae sunt
itaque qui resistit potestati Dei ordinationi resistit qui autem resistunt ipsi sibi damnationem adquirunt
Vulgata, The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans, 13:1-2

... si quis non vult operari nec manducet
Vulgata, Paulus, ad Thessalonicenses II, 3:10

*Kingdom of God
*The Present and Future Kingdom of God

*Christianity and politics
*Christian politics
*Christian Reconstructionism
*Cuius regio, eius religio
*Religious Wars - France, England
*Just War Doctrine - Catechism of the Catholic Church
*Safeguarding peace - Catechism of the Catholic Church
*Council of Clermont - bellum sacrum (1095)
*Speech at Council of Clermont - Pope Urban II
*De Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolimitanorum - (1100)
*Dei gesta per Francos - Guibert of Nogent (1107)
*Medieaval Crusades
*Thirty Years' War - (1618-1648 CE)

*Religion and capital punishment
*Papal States
*Dictatus Papae - Gregory VII (1090)
*Dictatus Papae - Gregory VII (1090)
*Unam Sanctam - Pope Boniface VIII (1302)
*Henry VIII - (1491-1547 CE)
*The King's Great Matter
*Elizabeth's Supremacy Act - 1559
*Separation of church and state - USA
*Kulturkampf - Germany
*Separation of church and state - France 1905
*The Third Republic - France (1870-1914 CE)

*Augustinus of Hippo - (354-430 CE)
*Civitas Dei - City of God - Augustinus
*Bellum Iustum - Augustinus
*Marsilius of Padua or Marsilio da Padova - (1270-1342 CE)
*Defensor Pacis - da Padova (1324)
*Defensor Pacis, Conclusions - da Padova (1324)
*William of Ockham - (c. 1285-1347)
*Giles of Rome - (?-1316)
*Paweł Włodkowic - (ca. 1370-1435)
*Tractatus de potestate papae et de potestate papae et imperatoris respectu infidelium
*Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu - (1585-1642 CE)
*Jules Mazarin, Cardinal - (1602-1661 CE)
*Jacques-Benigne Bossuet - (1627-1704 CE)
*Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture - Bossuet
*Joseph de Maistre - (1753-1821 CE)
*Letters on the Spanish Inquisition - Joseph de Maistre
*Félicité Robert de Lamennais - (1782-1854 CE)
*Ernst Troeltsch - (1865-1923 CE)
*Ernest Seillière - (1866-1955 CE)
*Carl Schmitt - (1888-1985 CE)

*Ultramontanism - Catholic Encyclopedia
*Ultramontanism - Wikipedia
*Christian Democracy
*Christian Democracy
*Christian Socialism
*Graves De Communi Re On Christian Democracy - Pope Leo XIII (1901)
*Rerum Novarum - Pope Leo XIII (1891)
*Theocracy Watch

*Holy Roman Empire or sacrum Romanum imperium - (962-1806 CE)
*Die Goldene Bulle - Karl IV (1356)
*Holy Roman Empire and Papacy
*Investiture Controversy - (1000-1122 CE)
*Conflict of Investitures - (1000-1122 CE)
*Documents Relating to the War of the Investitures - Yale University
*The Owl, The Cat, And The Investiture Controversy
*The Concordat of Worms - (1122)

Judaism and Politics

From the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans to the foundation of Israel the Jewish people had no territory, and, until the 19th century they by-and-large were also denied equal rights in the countries in which they lived. Since Jews were excluded as outsiders throughout Europe for most of European history, they were mostly shut out of politics or any sort of participation in the wider political and social sphere of the nations in which they were involved until the Enlightenment, and its Jewish counterpart, Haskalah, made popular movements possible. Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786 CE) was a German Jewish philosopher whose ideas paved the way for the renaissance of European Jews, the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment) and participation of Jews in European political life. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904 CE) as a reaction to anti-semitism (e.g. The Dreyfus Affair) wrote Der Judenstaat, Versuch einer modernen Lösung der Judenfrage (1896) and became the father of Zionism. Later on Zionism would emerge as a political movement that, in its broadest sense, supports the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland.

Following the 1947 United Nations decision to partition Palestine (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, 29 November 1947), on 14 May 1948 David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973 CE), the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared Israel a state independent from the British Mandate for Palestine.

*Kingdom of God

*Kitab al Khazari - Judah Hallevi

Islam and Politics

Political aspects of Islam are derived from the Qur'an, the Sunna, which are the sayings and living habits of the prophet Muhammad (ca. 570-ca. 632 CE), Muslim history, and elements of political movements outside Islam. Sharia law is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Qur'an, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting. Jihad an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims and they use the word in a religious context to refer to three types of struggles: an internal struggle to maintain faith, the struggle to improve the Muslim society, or the struggle to defend Islam. Islamism states that Islam is "as much a political ideology as a religion".

*Political philosophy in classical Islam
*Islamic politics
*Islamic political philosophy
*Islamic republic
*Islamic democracy

Hinduism and Politics

Hindu politics refers to the political movements professing to draw inspiration from Hinduism. Hindu nationalism is the numerically most significant among the current political movements claiming to be inspired by Hinduism. Rama Rajya (The Reign Of Righteousness) is an ancient Indian concept of an ideal society which according to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948 CE) is the "sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority". "One of true democracy in which the meanest citizen could be sure of swift justice without an elaborate and costly procedure".

*Hindu politics
*Hindu nationalism

Buddhism and Politics

The Sangha refers to the monastic community of ordained Buddhist monks or nuns, which play an indirect role in politics. The organizational links between the sangha and the government in many Asian countries are an indication of their interdependence. Engaged Buddhism refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental, and economic suffering and injustice. The Republic of Kalmykia is a federal subject of Russia (a republic) and it is the only Buddhist region in Europe.

*Buddhism and Politics
*Buddhism and Politics
*Buddhist republic - Kalmykia

Shinto and Politics

State Shinto has been called the state religion of the Empire of Japan, although it did not exist as a single institution and no "Shinto" was ever declared a state religion. The idea of "State Shinto" was never conceived of during the imperial era, but was first proposed in 1970 by the postwar religious scholar Shigeyoshi Murakami (b. 1928 CE) (Japanese religion in the modern century) to classify those ideals, rituals and institutions that were created by the government to promote the divinity of the Japanese Emperor and the uniqueness of Japan. After Japan's defeat in World War II, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers issued the Shinto Directive and ordered the separation of the government from religious affairs during the occupation of Japan, and separation of church and state was incorporated into the 1947 Constitution of Japan. On 1 January 1946, Emperor Showa or Hirohito (1901-1989 CE) issued a statement, sometimes referred to as the Ningen-sengen, in which he quoted the Five Charter Oath of Emperor Meiji and announced he was not an "akitsumikami" (incarnation of a God).

*Imperial cult - Japan
*Emperor of Japan - Shinto

Fascism and Nazism

Fascism (Italian: fascismo) was the authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini (1883-1945 CE). It originated from Italian national syndicalists during World War I, who combined extreme right-wing political views along with collectivism. Fascism is considered to to be a political ideology on the far right of the political spectrum and is considered to be a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascism seeks to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, which also includes the political system and the economy.

Fascism as a modern political philosophy is considered to have first emerged in France in the 1880s. Paul Déroulède's (1846-1914 CE) Ligue des patriotes was founded in 1882, revived in 1896 during the Dreyfus affair (Fr. L'affaire Dreyfus) and finally dissolved soon afterwards. Edouard Drumont's (1844-1917 CE) Ligue antisémitique de France was founded in 1889, but disappeared before World War I. In the eassay La dottrina del fascismo (The Doctrine of Fascism) (1935) Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944) and Benito Mussolini put forward the doctrine of Italian fascism.

Similar political movements, including Nazism in Germany, spread across Europe between World War I and World War II. In Germany Adolf Hitler (1889-1945 CE) came to power and would lead his Nazi Germany into World War II and the holocaust. Hitler would put forward his Nazi ideology in his book Mein Kampf (1925-1926). The lawyer Carl Schmitt (1888-1985 CE) provided intellectual support for National Socialist politics. Alfred Ernst Rosenberg (1893-1946 CE) was one of the main authors of key Nazi ideological statements. In Spain Francisco Franco (1892-1975 CE) was the leader of the Nationalist military rebellion in the Spanish Civil War, and head of state of Spain, from October 1936 (as a unified nation from 1939 onwards) until his death in November 1975. In Portugal António de Oliveira Salazar, (1889-1970 CE) would lead an authoritarian, right-wing government that presided over and controlled Portugal from 1932 to 1974. Fascism had its chance due to the difficulties of the classical democracies to find an answer to the economic crisis which ravaged the European economies in the aftermath of World War I.

Racism and anti-semitism


To its authoritarian nationalist political ideology Nazism added a racial component, namely antisemitism, which would lead to "die Endlösung der Judenfrage" and the holocaust. Antisemitism has a long tradition in European civilization and it is not limited to Nazism in European history. Nazism was special in its systematic and industrial destruction on Jewish people and other people which it deemed inferior to the Aryan race. The philosophical foundation of antisemitism can be traced back to the dual nature of Western civilization, which has its roots in both Greek and Semitic culture, philosophy and religion. Greek culture and philosophy formed the foundation for much of what today is known as Western civilization. Western civilization has a Greco-Semitic origin, which leads to a hybrid and in its essence conflicting view on the nature of reality, being either vision (theoria) or word (Dabar) oriented. The Greek word θεωρία (theoria) for knowledge is related to the word for sight, since it is through vision man knows the world. Theoria corresponds to the Latin word contemplatio, meaning "looking at", "gazing at", "being aware of". In the Jewish tradition the word of God or hearing is the way man learns and understands the world. The Greek approach leads to activism and dominance of reality, while the Jewish approach leads to 'listening' and reflectivity or passivity. In Greek philosophy the Logos is the principle of reason immanent in the universe, while in Judaism, Dabar (Speech) is the method whereby God created the world. In Greek philosophy man is capable by himself of understanding the fundamental principle by means of wisdom and this allows one to live in harmony with the rational world, which is the virtuous life. In Judaism the Word of God is the Torah (Jewish Written Law), which is God's way of communicating with humans and wisdom is personified as a divine agent. Adhering to the Word of God and living according to the law (Halakha) leads to the good life in Judaism. Philo of Alexandria (ca. 25 BCE-ca. 50 CE), a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, would create a synthesis between Greek philosophy and Jewish religion. The Hellenistic influence on Judaism lead to an allegorical synthesis of Greek philosophy and Jewish religion in Christianity. Pauline Christianity became a chimera of Greek philosophy and Hebrew religion. As a result many concepts in Christianity are oxymorons. This is reflected in the dual meaning of λόγος (logos) in Christianity, meaning both reason (Greek) and word (Jewish). The Greek world view would become more dominant during the Renaissance and later with philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900 CE) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976 CE) in Germany. Heidegger and Nietzsche turned to the Presocratics for the development of their philosophy, leading to an aversion against the Jewish contribution to Western civilization or anti-Judaism, which in my opinion lead to a devastating cultural and philosophical anti-semitism by weak-minded Nazis (misunderstanding the elitism of Nietzsche). The Presocratic heritage of Western culture is in its essence a-semitic but not antisemitic. The Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) in Totalité et Infini: essai sur l'extériorité (1961) distinguished between the totalitarian tendency to mastery and humanization of nature in Greek and Western philosophy, compared to transcendence and the relation with infinity in Judaism. Analytic philosophy and its approach to linguistic philosophy (linguistic turn) is methodologically more related to the cultural-linguistic approach of Judaism than the Continental tradition in Western philosophy. The expression 'the linguistic turn' was introduced by the Jewish philosopher Gustav Bergmann (1906-1987 CE) in his review of Strawson's Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics in 1960. Intellectual, philosophical and theological anti-Judaism develops into popular antisemitism (see also Jewish Philosophy and Western Culture: A Modern Introduction, Victor Seidler, I.B.Tauris, 2007, p. 57 and The Nobility of Sight, Hans Jonas, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Jun., 1954), pp. 507-519 and Christianity Down To Earth, Edwin Walhout,, 2015, p. 127 and The Case for God: What religion really means, Karen Armstrong, Random House, 2011, p. 97 and Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism: German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann, Anders Gerdmar, BRILL, 2009, p. 101 and The Edinburgh Encyclopedia of Continental Philosophy, Simon Glendinning, Psychology Press, 1999, p. 137 and Race and Racism in Continental Philosophy, Robert Bernasconi, Sybol Cook, Indiana University Press, 2003, p. 82 and Überlegungen VII-XI (Schwarze Hefte 1938/39), Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe Band 95. Klostermann, 2014 and Überlegungen XII-XV (Schwarze Hefte 1939-1941), , Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe Band 96. Klostermann, 2014 Anmerkungen I-V (1942-1948), Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe Band 97. Klostermann, 2014 and The Jewish Derrida, Gideon Ofrat, Syracuse University Press, 2001, p. 138 and Judaism as a form of life, Sanford L. Drob, Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Summer 1988), pp. 78-89 and Wittgenstein and Judaism: A Triumph of Concealment, Ranjit Chatterjee, Peter Lang, 2005, p. 80 and Is there philosophy in the hebrew bible? Some recent affirmative perspectives, Jaco Gericke, Journal for Semitics 23/2i (2014), pp. 583-598 and The Oxford Handbook of The History of Analytic Philosophy, Michael Beaney, OUP Oxford, 2013, p. cdlxiv and The Nazi tradition: The analytic critique of continental philosophy in mid-century Britain, Thomas L. Akehurst, History of European Ideas, Volume 34, Issue 4, December 2008, pp. 548-557 and Bertrand Russell Stalks The Nazis, Thomas Akehurst, Philosophy Now, Apr/May 2017, Issue 119, on-line).

European racism and anti-semitism

Racism and antisemitism was not uncommon in early twentieth century Europe and in the United States. The French diplomat Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882 CE) in his Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines had put forward that there were differences between human races and that the European race was supreme. The essay is one of the earliest examples of scientific racism. Arthur de Gobineau established the equation of the terms "Germanic race" and "Aryan race". His negative views on race-mixing as expressed in his essay, became an important influence on Adolf Hitler and national socialism. Social Darwinism motivated ideas of authoritarianism, eugenics, racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism, and struggle between national or racial groups. Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927 CE) published Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (1899 CE) in which he put forward various racist and especially völkisch antisemitic theories on how he saw the Aryan race as superior to others. The Nazi Party and its sympathizers published many books on scientific racism, seizing on the eugenicist and antisemitic ideas which were popular a the time. The Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946 CE) published Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (1930 CE), which was inspired by the racist theories of Arthur de Gobineau. Books such as Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes and Rasse und Seele were used in German schools during the Nazi era (see also Race et Histoire, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Éditions Gonthier, coll. «Bibliothèque Médiations», 1961 and A Concise History of American Antisemitism, Robert Michael, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005 and History, Religion, and Antisemitism, Gavin I. Langmuir, University of California Press, 1990, p. 18).

Nazi laws against the German (mainly Ashkenazi) Jews were the Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums of 7 April 1933 and the Nürnberger Gesetze (E: Nuremberg Laws) such as the Gesetz zum Schutze des deutschen Blutes und der deutschen Ehre and Reichsbürgergesetz of 15 September 1935. The Reichskristallnacht, a progrom during the night of 9-10 November 1938 (birthday of Martin Luther), was a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria and foreshadowed what Nazi Germany had in mind for its Jewish citizens. At the Wannseekonferenz (E: Wannsee Conference) of 20 January 1942, the decision to systematically kill the Jews of Europe was made which would result in the Endlösung der Judenfrage" and the holocaust. The Nazi atrocities differed from the traditional Christian anti-semitism and the progroms against the jews in Eastern Europe, because of the industrialized destruction of jews with "Deutsche gründlichkeit", which added to its horror. On 17 December 1942, the Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations described the "Cold-Blooded Extermination" of the jews in Nazi Germany. On 8 May 1985 German Richard von Weizsäcker (1920-2015 CE) in his speech "Zum 40. Jahrestag der Beendigung des Krieges in Europa und der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft" spoke of the danger of forgetting and distorting the past and the historic responsibility of Germany and Germans for the crimes of Nazism (see also The Great Hatred, Maurice Samuel, Knopf, 1940 and The Nuremberg Laws: Institutionalized Anti-semitism, Amy Newman, Lucent Books, 1999 and Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, Marion A. Kaplan, Oxford University Press, 1999).

The Dreyfus affair (Fr. L'affaire Dreyfus) was an antisemitic political scandal which divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935 CE), a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent. Émile Zola (1840-1902 CE) on 13 January 1898 would write his famous J'accuse in the newspaper L'Aurore, a vehement public open letter on the case. Roman Catholic public opinion was in large part anti-Dreyfusard, fed by antisemitism, xenophobia and suspicion regarding the role of Jews in the making of the French republic. The official newspaper of the Vatican, L'Osservatore Romano, commented in 1898 on the arrest and trial of Alfred Dreyfus as "hardly surprising if we again find the Jew in the front ranks, or if we find that the betrayal of one's country has been Jewishly conspired and Jewishly executed." Eventually, all the accusations against Alfred Dreyfus were demonstrated to be baseless and in 1906 Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army (see also The Dreyfus Affair, Leslie Derfler, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002 and The Papacy, the Jews, and the Holocaust, Frank J. Coppa, CUA Press, 2006, p. 118 and Six Million Crucifixions, Gabriel Wilensky, QWERTY Publishers, 2010, p; 121 and The Dreyfus Affair in French Society and Politics, Eric Cahm, Routledge, 2014, p. xiii and The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, David I. Kertzer, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2007, pp. 183-184 and The Third Republic in France 1870-1940: Conflicts and Continuities, William Fortescue, Routledge, 2002, p. 50 and Church and State after the Dreyfus Affair: The Separation Issue in France, Maurice Larkin, Springer, 1974, pp. 1-2).

Christian racism and anti-semitism

Anti-judaism and anti-semitism were not restricted to Nazism, but were widespread in Europe in the 20th century, such as among Protestants and Roman Catholics (e.g. the Tridentine Mass with the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews: Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis: Ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum ut et ipsi agnoscent Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum (2 Corinthians 3:13-16) and the status of the Jews as the murderers of Jesus Christ for the Christians, such as in Thessalonians 2:14-15 (ideo et nos gratias agimus Deo sine intermissione quoniam cum accepissetis a nobis verbum auditus Dei accepistis non ut verbum hominum sed sicut est vere verbum Dei qui operatur in vobis qui credidistis vos enim imitatores facti estis fratres ecclesiarum Dei quae sunt in Iudaea in Christo Iesu quia eadem passi estis et vos a contribulibus vestris sicut et ipsi a Iudaeis). The correspondence of the Vatican concerning World War II and the holocaust can be found in the Actes et Documents du Saint Siège Relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (ADSS). The role of Pope Pius XII (1876-1958 CE) in the holocaust and his "decision to stay silent in public about the fate of the Jews" remains controversial (see also Catholic Culture in the USA: In and Out of Church, John Portmann, A&C Black, 10 feb. 2010, p. 77 and The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, David I. Kertzer, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2007 and Six Million Crucifixions, Gabriel Wilensky, QWERTY Publishers, 2010 and A History of Catholic Antisemitism: The Dark Side of the Church, R. Michael, Springer, 2008).

Both anti-judaism and anti-semitism have a long tradition, which goes back to the Roman empire. Anti-judaism opposes the religion, philosophy, and way of life of the Jewish people. Anti-semitism shares elements with anti-judaism, but adds ethnicity to the reason for oppressing jewish people. During the reign of Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) Jews were granted freedom of worship in the city of Rome, in recognition of the Jewish forces which had helped him at Siege of Alexandria (47 BCE). Anti-judaism developed in the Roman empire after the jewish rebellions. Both Caesar and Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE) had favored the jews, because of their support in the civil war. This would change after the jewish rebellions against Rome. The First Jewish-Roman War (66-73 CE), sometimes called The Great Revolt, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of Judaea Province (Iudaea), against the Roman Empire. The second was the Kitos War in 115-117 CE; the third was Bar Kokhba's revolt of 132-135 CE). After Bar Kokhba's revolt the jews finally lost their favored status and the young Christian sect (Nazarenes) distanced itself from its jewish roots. As Simon bar Kokhba was regarded to be a messiah, the followers of Jeshua distanced themselves from this revolt. The war and its aftermath played an important rol to differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism. Anti-judaism would also increasingly become part of Christianity (see also The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity, John G. Gager, Oxford University Press, 1985).

The split between early Christianity and Judaism developed gradually. The Christian "last supper" is generally believed to have been a Pesach seder. At the First Council of Nicaea (325 CE), the date of Easter was uncoupled from Pesach, to distance Christianity from its jewish roots. Sunday would also replace the Shabbat and the Christian doctrine of the Trinity the Mosaic God. Eraly Christian theologians wrote Anti-Judaic works such as De Adversus Iudeaos by Tertullian (ca. 155-ca. 240 CE), Octavius by Marcus Minucius Felix (died ca. 250 CE), Adversus Judaeos and De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate by Cyprian of Carthage (ca. 200-258 CE), and Instructiones Adversus Gentium Deos by Lactantius (ca. 250-ca. 325 CE) (see also The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature: A - C, Emmanuel Sampath Nelson, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, p. 167 and Tertullian's Aduersus Iudaeos: A Rhetorical Analysis (NAPS Patristic Monograph Series, Volume 19), Geoffrey D. Dunn, CUA Press, 2008 and Antisemitism: Its History and Causes, Bernard Lazare, U of Nebraska Press, 1995, p. 38).

The position of the Roman Catholic church towards Judaism is inconsistent. Sometimes privileges were revoked and sometimes extended. Often the same Pope would order protection of the Jews from bodily harm, but enact discriminatory laws of various kinds. In the middle ages when the Popes on the day of their coronation received the homage of the delegates of the Roman-Jewish community they traditionally answered: "Legum Probo, sed improbo gentium" (I approve of the law but I disapprove of the race). Later, when the custom was established that the Rabbis of Rome offered a magnificent copy of the Pentateuch, they answered: "Confirmamus sed non consentimus." (We ratify but we do not consent). Several Papal Bulls concerning Jews were antisemitic. From the beginning of the thirteenth century, by means of papal Bulls, Jews were separated from Christians (a distinctive sign, the prohibition from public office, etc.), while on the other hand no pressure was permitted to force them to enter the Catholic religion. The common character of all the measures taken by the Roman Catholic church was that of defending Christian communities from the penetration of the Jewish race and Talmudic ideas. An incomplete overview gives an idea of the content of some of these papal bulls. The papal bull Etsi non displiceat Domino (1205 CE) by pope Innocent III, addressed to King Philippe Auguste of France, accused Jews of usury, blasphemy, arrogance, employing Christian slaves and murder. The pope urged the king to put an end to the "evils". The papal bull In general consilio (26 January 1218 CE) by pope Honorius III (1150-1227 CE) was addressed to the the archbishop of Toledo, and required enforcement of the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) decisions that Jews must wear special clothing and pay tithes to the local churches. In the papal bull Ad nostram Noveritis audientiam (1221 CE) of pope Honorius III Jews were obliged to carry a distinctive badge and forbidden to hold public office. The papal bull Sufficere debuerat perfidioe judaeorum perfidia (The Faithless Should Have Sufficient Work, 1233) of pope Gregory IX forbade Jews to employ Christian servants. The papal bull Si vera sunt (1239 CE) of pope Gregory IX addressed tot the kings and prelates of Spain and France, ordered seizure of Talmud and other Jewish books and examination for blasphemy against Jesus. These books were regularly burned or censored. The papal bull Impia judoerum perfidia (1244 CE) by pope Innocent IV addressed to the French King ordered the burning of the Talmud and Jews were forbidden to employ Christian nurses. The papal bull Etsi doctoribus gentium (1415) of anti-pope Benedict XIII contained a collection of anti-Jewish church legislation that served as an inspiration to other popes. The papal bull Sedes apostolica (1425 CE) of pope Martin V obliged Jews to wear a distinctive badge. The papal bull Dudum ad nostram audientiam (1442) of pope Eugene IV forbade Jews to live with Christians or fill public functions, etc. . The papal bull Si ad reprimendos (1456 CE) of pope Calixtus III onfirmed the preceding Bull of Eugene IV forbidding Jews to live with Christians. The papal bull Numquam dubitavimus (1482 CE) of pope Sixtus IV ordered King Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516 CE), to appoint inquisitors to extirpate heresy and investigate backsliding of Jewish converts (conversos) from Christianity. The Reconquista lead to the 'estatutos de limpieza de sangre' (cleanliness of blood rules), which were aimed against the Jewish conversos and Muslim Moriscos both "New Christians", as opposed to the "Old Christians", without Muslim or Jewish ancestors. The Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews from Spain with the Alhambra Decree (31 March 1492 CE) followed. The papal Bull Cum Nimis Absurdum (1555 CE) of pope Paul IV created the ghetto of Rome. The papal Bull Hebraeorum gens (1569 CE) of pope Pius V accused Jews of many evils including magic and ordered expulsion of Jews from Church States except Rome and Ancona. The papal bull Beatus Andreas (22 Feb.1755) of pope Benedict XIV concerning the martyrdom of a child by Jews. A blood libel concerning the murder of the child Andreas Oxner (ca. 1459-1462 CE) or Anderl von Rinn (Andreas of Rinn ) by Jews that supposedly took place in 1462 CE in Rinn near Innsbruck. The bull Confirmed the blood libel as factual. The Bull reviewed the cases of ritual murder by Jews, which it explicitly upholds as a fact, and establishes the beatification but not the canonization of Andreas of Rinn and Simon of Trent. Anti-judaism can also be found in the Canon 68 and 69 of the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, which was convoked by Pope Innocent III with the papal bull of 19 April 1213. Some parts of its Canon look quite familiar when compared with the Nazi legislation against the jews. Canon 68 of the Council stated that Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province must be distinguished from the Christian by a difference of dress (Jewish badge, e.g. the yellow Star of David imposed by the Nazis). As a consequence of Canon 68 the pilleus cornutus was imposed in some places in Europe for adult male Jews to wear while outside a ghetto. On Passion Sunday and the last three days of Holy Week they may not appear in public. Canon 69 stated that Jews are not to be given public offices (e.g. the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" of 7 April, 1933 in Nazi Germany). Anyone instrumental in doing this is to be punished. A Jewish official is to be denied all intercourse with Christians. One of the results of the Fourth Council of the Lateran was the expulsion of the jews from England with the Edict of Expulsion, given by Edward I of England (1239-1307 CE) in 1290. On 31 March 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella would issue the Alhambra Decree or the Edict of Expulsion for the Jews from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon by 31 July 1492. The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second Vatican Council (see also A History of Catholic Antisemitism: The Dark Side of the Church, R. Michael, Springer, 31 mrt. 2008 and The Apostolic See and the Jews: History, Shlomo Simonsohn, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1991 and Antisemitism: A Reference Handbook, Jerome A. Chanes, ABC-CLIO, 2004, p. 32 and Popes and Jews, 1095-1291, Rebecca Rist, Oxford University Press, 2016 and The Inquisition: A History, Michael C. Thomsett, McFarland & Company, 2010, p. 118 and Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Norman Roth, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2002 and The Holy See and the Jews, International Review of Secret Societies, 1939).

Large numbers of the early Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther (1483-1546 CE), held strong anti-Jewish views. Luther, the famous German Reformation leader, had a significant influence on German anti-judaism and anti-semitism by his harsh anti-Jewish statements and writings. His major antisemitic works were Von den Juden und Ihren Lügen (1543) and Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlecht Christi (1543). John Calvin (1509-1564 CE) wrote his Ad quaestiones et obiecta Judaei cuiusdam responsio against Christian philo-Semitism, as the Jews were the first to reject Christ, and their perpetual obstinacy (see also Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust, William Brustein, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 64 and Martin Luther and Anti-Semitism, Andrina Kristine Fiene, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, 2003 and Martin Luther's Anti-Semitism: Against His Better Judgment, Eric W. Gritsch, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2012 and Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany, Christopher J. Probst, Indiana University Press, 2012 and The Jew in Christian Theology, Gerhard Falk, McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub, 2013).

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.

Was für ein Glück für die Regierenden, dass die Menschen nicht denken!
- Adolf Hitler am 18./19. Januar 1942 in der Wolfsschanze; Werner Jochmann (Hrsg.) -
- Monologe im Führer-Hauptquartier 1941-1944. Hamburg 1982, S. 213. -

Etiam si omnes, ego non
- Joachim Fest, Auch wenn alle mitmachen - ich nicht -
- Free from Vulgata, Evangelium secundum Matthaeum, 26:33 -

*Fascism - Mussolini
*Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini - (1883-1945)
*Gabriele d'Annunzio - (1863-1938)
*National Socialism - Nazism
*Adolf Hitler - (1889-1945)
*Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler
*The program of the NSDAP - 1920
*Beliefs of the Nazis
*Francisco Franco - (1892-1975)

*Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar Nazi Germany
*Jew Watch - Keeping a Close Watch on Jewish Communities & Organizations Worldwide
*The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
*Racial Nationalist Library



In simple terms, morality is the right or wrong (or otherwise) of an action, a way of life or a decision, while ethics is the study of such standards as we use or propose to judge such things. Ethics (from Greek meaning "custom") is the branch of axiology, one of the four major branches of philosophy, which attempts to understand the nature of morality; to distinguish that which is right from that which is wrong. The field of ethics is usually broken down into three different ways of thinking about ethics: descriptive, normative and analytic (metaethics). Normative ethical theories are: virtue ethics (virtue, practical wisdom and eudaimonia), deontological ethics and consequentialism. The Western tradition of ethics is sometimes called moral philosophy (see also Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Simon Blackburn, OUP Oxford, 2003).

Classical European Ethics

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit,
is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason
the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.
- Aristotle - Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, Chapter 1 -

Plato and Aristotle are considered to be the founders of Western virtue ethics. Virtue ethics remained the dominant ethical theory until at least the Enlightenment. Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) in his work adhered tot a virtue-based eudaemonistic ethics. Human well-being (eudaimonia) is the highest aim of moral thought and conduct; the virtues (aretê or 'excellence') are the requisite skills and character-traits. Plato's ethics in The Republic is an example of moral holism. One of the earliest Western works on ethics were the so-called Eudemian Ethics and Nicomachean Ethics, which was written by Aristotle (384-322 BCE) for his son Nicomachos. Ethics, for Aristotle, was practical rather than theoretical, in the original Aristotelian senses of these terms. It is partly intended to help people become good, and is not only a contemplation about good living, Aristole in het Ethics uses the concept of "Eudaimonia", which means means 'doing and living well'. The Ethics is connected to Aristotle's other practical work, Politics, which also aims at people becoming good, though from the perspective of a law-giver, looking at the good of a whole community.

The ethical theories of Plato and Aristotle were examples of moral holism. Pluralism (Empedocles (ca. 495-435 BCE) and Anaxagoras (ca. 500-428 BCE) and Atomism (adopted by Leucippus (first half of 5th century BCE) and Democritus) developed a different approach to morality. The atomists like Democritus (ca. 460-370 BCE) and Epicurus (341-270 BCE), denied one single first principle and put forward the randomness of atomic interactions as the basis of pluralism. They rejected the holistic and teleological foundation of Platonic and Aristotelian ethics. The concept of atoms led to speculation about individual atomism or even moral atomism, where each of us lives in our own moral universe (see also The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated & Explained, Marcus Aurelius, Skylight Paths Publishing, 2007, p. 216). Moral atomism contrasts with moral holism, which places ultimate value on the system rather than on the individuals that compose the system. Ethical atomism would continue to exist as an alternative to the holistic ethical systems of Plato and Aristotle (A Legacy of Ethical Atomism, P. J. Benson, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 193-208). With the randomness of atomic interactions, no logic like the Aristotelian or Stoic logic could be applied upon the ethical foundations to propagate moral principles simply and monodic throughout the metaphysical realm.

Modern European Ethics


Modern European ethics saw the development of ethical naturalism, consequentialism and deontological ethics.

Rationalism and ethics

Ethica More Geometrico Demonstrata
- Baruch Spinoza - Ethica More Geometrico Demonstrata (1677) -

Deum nemo noscit, nisi Deus
- Baruch Spinoza - Ethica More Geometrico Demonstrata -

With the dawn of modern science, philosophers attempted to develop a science of morality, grounding morality in rational, empirical consideration of the natural world. René Descartes (1596-1650 CE) in his Traité des passions de l'âme dealt with moral questions, especially the nature of happiness, passions, and ethics. (see also The Science of Morality: The Individual, Community, and Future Generations, Joseph L. Daleiden, Prometheus Books, 1998 and Encyclopedia of Ethics, Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker, Routledge, 2013, p. 396).

In 1677 the Ethica More Geometrico Demonstrata of Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677 CE) was posthumously published. In this work Spinoza proceeds in the same way as when giving a geometrical proof as in the Elements of Euclid, hence the name "More Geometrico Demonstrata". In his Ethics, Spinoza attempts to demonstrate a "fully cohesive philosophical system that strives to provide a coherent picture of reality and to comprehend the meaning of an ethical life. Following a logical step-by-step format, it defines in turn the nature of God, the mind, human bondage to the emotions, and the power of understanding -- moving from a consideration of the eternal, to speculate upon humanity's place in the natural order, freedom, and the path to attainable happiness." (see also Spinoza: A Very Short Introduction, Roger Scruton, OUP Oxford, 2002).

Ethical naturalism and moral sentimentalism

The optimism coming with Newtonian science gave an impulse to the development of ethical naturalism and moral sentimentalism. Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713 CE) published the Inquiry concerning Virtue (1699 CE) and the Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions (1711 CE). In these works he tried to reconcile the theory on human nature of John Locke (1632-1704 CE) with the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle (384-322 BCE). He tried to reconcile the Aristotelian concept of practical reason and to reconcile it with the modern view on human nature. He introduced the notion of a moral sense in his Inquiry concerning Virtue. Shaftesbury developed the concept that morality centers on what is internal to the moral agent and took psychological experience as the basis of ethics. His ethics is based on virtue rather than natural law and requires a state of self-maintained harmony. Acting virtuous is based on sympathy for other beings understanding them being part of a broader context of reality (affection), rather than a purely rational act. Francis Hutcheson (1694-1745 CE) published Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil (1725) and the Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections and Illustrations upon the Moral Sense (1728). In his ethics he also puts forward a neo-Aristotelian view and that morality was based on moral sense. Human nature contained all it needed to make moral decisions, along with inclinations to be moral. Adam Smith (1723-1790 CE) wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments in which he describes the natural principles that govern morality and the ways in which human beings come to know them. The core of moral learning and deliberation is social unity, and social unity is enabled through sympathy (see also Encyclopedia of Ethics, Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker, Routledge, 2013, p. 1577 and The Routledge Companion to Ethics, John Skorupski, Professor of Moral Philosophy John Skorupski, Routledge, 2010, p. 111).

Consequentialism - Jeremy Bentham

Consequentialism is the view that morality depends only on consequences. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832 CE) developed the principle of utilitarianism as the basis for his moral philosophy. The consequences which are relevant for moral actions are the overall happiness created for everyone affected by the action. His moral theory was based on an empiricist account of human nature (see also Moral Philosophy from Montaigne to Kant, J. B. Schneewind, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 460).

Deontological ethics - Immanuel Kant

Handle nur nach derjenigen Maxime, durch die du zugleich wollen kannst, daß sie ein allgemeines Gesetz werde.
- Immanuel Kant, Kategorischer Imperativ, Universalisierungsformel, Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, BA 52 -

Handle so, dass du die Menschheit sowohl in deiner Person, als in der Person eines jeden anderen jederzeit zugleich als Zweck,
niemals bloß als Mittel brauchst.
- Immanuel Kant, Kategorischer Imperativ, Selbstzweckformel, Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, BA 66 -

The Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 CE) with his moral philosophy laid the foundations of modern ethics and deontology. Kantian ethics is an example of deontological ethics. For Kant the supreme principle of morality is a standard of rationality is an unconditional principle which he named "kategorische Imperativ" (E: categorical imperative) and which is also the law of an autonomous will. On ethics he wrote with his Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten (1785), Die Metaphysik der Sitten (1797) and the Kritik der Urteilskraft (1790). The "Grundlegung" is notable for the idea of the "kategorische Imperativ" (E: categorical imperative), which is the central concept of Kant's moral philosophy. An imperative is any proposition that declares a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary. According to Kant, there exist two types of imperative: hypothetical and categorical. Hypothetical imperatives compel actions in given circumstances, while categorical imperatives mean an absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all circumstances, both required and justified as an end in itself. The categorical imperative implies autonomy, while the hypothetical imperative implies heteronomy. The categorical imperative is thereby defined as a way of evaluating motivations for action. The objectivity of the categorical imperative as a foundation for morality is based on the concept of rationality, it being a fundamental law and it is a motive to act (practical reason). In order to do this Kant had to prove that synthetic a priori practical knowledge is possible. Freedom and autonomy are prerequisites for morality. In order to act morally man is only bound to his reason. Acting out of free will for Kant means acting under rational laws (categorical imperative) that one gives to itself as the laws of cause an effect also affect the will. For Kant the free will of man is inherently unknowable, which provides a sufficient basis for ascribing moral responsibility: autonomy of the will (see also The Categorical Imperative: A Study in Kant's Moral Philosophy, H. J. Paton, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971 and Kant: A Very Short Introduction, Roger Scruton, OUP Oxford, 2001).

Kant formulated different versions of the categorical imperative, but all versions of the categorical imperative deal with acting rational, autonomy, will and goal or purpose: 'Universalisierungsformel', 'Selbstzweckformel', 'Naturgesetzformel' and 'Reich-der-Zwecke-Formel'. The most-well known example of the categorical imperative as 'Universalisierungsformel' is: "Handle nur nach derjenigen Maxime, durch die du zugleich wollen kannst, daß sie ein allgemeines Gesetz werde." As a 'Selbstzweckformel' it becomes: "Handle so, dass du die Menschheit sowohl in deiner Person, als in der Person eines jeden anderen jederzeit zugleich als Zweck, niemals bloß als Mittel brauchst.". As a 'Naturgesetzformel' it becomes: "Handle so, als ob die Maxime deiner Handlung durch deinen Willen zum allgemeinen Naturgesetze werden sollte.". The 'Reich-der-Zwecke-Formel' is: "Demnach muß ein jedes vernünftige Wesen so handeln, als ob es durch seine Maximen jederzeit ein gesetzgebendes Glied im allgemeinen Reiche der Zwecke wäre.". The categorical imperative requires the transcendental first-person view to be completed with a second-person view behind a veil of ignorance and free of his own contingent situation, only guided by reason (see also An Introduction to Kant's Ethics, Roger J. Sullivan, Cambridge University Press, 1994 and Morality, Political Economy and American Constitutionalism, Timothy P. Roth, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007, p. 96).

Contemporary ethics

Relativity applies to physics, not ethics
- Albert Einstein -

Contemporary ethics has somewhat moved away from grand theory as a foundation for ethics. Ethics also shifted away from normative ethics towards metaethics. In his Principia Ethica (1903 CE) George Edward Moore (1873-1958 CE) developed a non-naturalist ethics which has had a profound influence on modern ethics (see also Contemporary Ethics: History, Theories and Issues, Anthony Onyebuchi Echekwube, Spero Books Limited, 1999 and G E Moore, Abdul Hamid, Mittal Publications, 1989, p. 10).

*Morals, Ethics, and Metaethics
*Moral Philosophy
*Ethics - Introduction
*Ethics - Wikipedia
*Normative ethics
*Normative Ethical Principles and Theories: A Brief Overview
*Descriptive ethics
*Applied ethics
*Applied ethics - resources

*Ancient Ethical Theory
*Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle
*The Golden Verses of Pythagoras
*The Natural Law Tradition in Ethics
*Ethica More Geometrico Demonstrata - Baruch Spinoza
*Josephson Institute of Ethics

*Secular ethics
*Moral Cognitivism vs. Non-Cognitivism
*Naturalistic Ethics
*Ethics in religion


Humanism is a broad category of active ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on our ability to determine what is right using the qualities innate to humanity, particularly rationality. Humanism is a democratic and ethical lifestance which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. The roots of Humanism can be traced back to the Hellenic and Roman philosophical tradition, which constitute the foundations of Western philosophy and political thinking.

The Western concept of humanism has its roots in "Paideia" in ancient Greece. In ancient Greece Paideia meant the global change that an individual had to go through to became a citizen of the polis, a political man. The goal of paideia (Greek) was "humanitas" (Latin), to make ourselves into human beings. To become a citizen, a training and learning process in all aspects of knowledge (liberal arts) was required. Paideia reinforced ideals such as wisdom and the power of reason (logos) to discover and understand nature in an autonomous and scientific way and to participate in public life. Another goal of education was to cultivate one's "daimonion", the part of oneself that was more than human, and resembled most closely God himself.

Renaissance Humanism

The founder of Renaissance humanism was Petrarch (1304-1374 CE), an Italian poet and man of letters who attempted to apply the values and lessons of antiquity to questions of Christian faith and morals in his own day. By the late 14th century, the term studia humanitatis ("humanistic studies") had come to mean a well-defined cycle of education, including the study of grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and moral philosophy, based on Latin authors and classical texts. Key in ensuring the permanence of humanism after Petrarch's initial success was the Florentine chancellor Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406 CE), who wrote many learned treatises and kept up a massive correspondence with his literary contemporaries. Salutati, together with his younger follower Leonardo Bruni (1369-1444 CE), used the studia humanitatis as the basis for a life of active service to state and society. Bruni in particular created a new definition of Florence's republican traditions, and defended the city in panegyrics and letters.

The 14th-century humanists had relied mainly on Latin. In the early 15th century, however, classical Greek became a major study, providing scholars with a fuller, more accurate knowledge of ancient civilization. Included were many of the works of Plato, the Homeric epics, the Greek tragedies, and the narratives of Plutarch and Xenophon. Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459 CE), a chancellor of Florence and papal secretary, discovered important classical texts, studied Roman ruins and inscriptions, and created the study of classical archaeology. Poggio also criticized the corruption and hypocrisy of his age in biting satire and well-argued dialogues. Lorenzo Valla (ca. 1407-1457 CE), one of the greatest classical scholars and text editors of his age, in his Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine proved that the Donatio Constantini (part of the Decretum Gratiani and the False Decretals of Isidore), a medieval document that supported papal claims to temporal authority, was a forgery.

The founding (ca. 1450 CE) of the Platonic Academy in Florence by Cosimo de'Medici (1389-1464 CE) signaled a shift in humanist values from political and social concerns to speculation about the nature of humankind and the cosmos. Scholars such as Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499 CE) and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494 CE) used their knowledge of Greek and Hebrew to reconcile Platonic teachings with Jewish mysticism, the Hermetic tradition, and Christian orthodoxy in the search for a Philosophia perennia (a philosophy that would be always true). Giovanni Pico della Mirandola wrote the humanist manifesto, the Oratio de hominis dignitate (1487 CE). The Oratio was the result of the De omni re scibili et quibusdam aliis (E: About every knowable thing and even certain other things) or Conclusiones sive Theses DCCCC.

The work of Italian humanists soon spread north of the Alps, finding a receptive audience among English thinkers such as John Collet (ca. 1467-1519 CE), who applied the critical methods developed in Italy to the study of the Bible. Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536 CE) of the Netherlands was the most influential of the Christian humanists. In his Colloquies I, Colloquies II and Morias Enkomion (E: Praise of Folly) (1509 CE), Erasmus satirized the corruptions of his contemporaries, especially the clergy, in comparison with the teachings of the Bible, early Christianity, and the best of pagan thinkers. In his Adagiorum chiliades (1500 and later editions), he showed the consistency of Christian teachings with ancient pagan wisdom. Erasmus devoted most of his energy and learning, however, to establishing sound editions of the sources of the Christian tradition, such as his Novum Instrumentum omne (E: Greek New Testament) (1516 CE) and translations of the Greek and Latin Fathers of the Church. Erasmus' friend Thomas More (1478-1535 CE) wrote yet another humanist critique of society - De Optimo Reipublicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia (1516 CE), which attacked the corruptions of power, wealth, and social status. By the middle of the 16th century humanism had won wide acceptance as an educational system.

Durante (Dante) degli Alighieri
Durante (Dante) degli Alighieri (1265-1321)

Ad fontes.
motto of Renaissance Humanism

Per me si va ne la città dolente,
Per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
Per me si va tra la Perduta Gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio Alto Fattore;
Fecemi la Divina Podestate,
La Somma Sapïenza e'l Primo Amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
Se non etterne, e io etterno duro
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
-Dante Alighieri (La Divina Commedia, Canto III.1--9)-

*Livius - articles on ancient history
*Protagoras - "Homo Mensura"
*Humanitas - Wikipedia
*Cicero - (106 BC-43 BCE)
*Dante Alighieri - (1265-1321 CE)
*Divina Commedia - Dante
*Cicero and Dante
*Francesco Petrarca - (1304-1374 CE)
*Francesco Petrarca - (1304-1374 CE)
*The Petrarchan Grotto
*Coluccio Salutati - (1331-1406 CE)
*Leonardo Bruni - (1370-1444)
*History of the Florentine People - Leonardo Bruni
*Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini - (1380-1459)
*The Facetiae - Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini
*Lorenzo Valla - (1406-1457 CE)
*John Collet - (1467-1519 CE)
*Desiderius Erasmus - (1466-1536 CE)
*Thomas More - (1478-1535 CE)
*Philosophia perennis
*Vico's Orations on Paideia and Humanitas - Giambatista Vico
*The Golden Age of Freethought

Modern Humanism

In the 19th Century William Torrey Harris (1835-1909 CE) as an Hegelian, advocated educational reform based on humanisms five windows of the soul. Two of the windows (or areas of inquiry), mathematics and geography, are committed to humanity's conquest and comprehension of nature. The other three, literature, grammar, and history, are connected to human life: literature speaking to literary works of art; grammar, to the study and the use of language; and history, to a multifaceted understanding of the institutions. Education for Harris was supposed to bring students face-to-face with the accumulated wisdom of humanity and to teach them to find their place in the spiritual nature of all existence. Education based on this principle would allow democracy to flourish, as schools would bring the foundations of civilizing insight to the children of a nation. Martha Nussbaum (b. 1947 CE) in her work Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities defends the need for including the liberal arts at all levels of education and to resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product.

William T. Harris
William T. Harris (1835-1909)

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
-Frank Lloyd Wright, Quote magazine, 14 August 1966 -

*Humanism - Wikipedia
*What is Humanism?
*Humanism - Why, What, and What for, In 882 Words - (1996, 2004)
*Humanism and its Aspirations
*The History and Philosophy of Humanism - Steven D. Schafersman (1995)
*The 10 Points of Humanism: A Definition
*The Genesis of a Human Manifesto
*Humanist Manifesto I - (1933)
*Humanist Manifesto II - (1973)
*Amsterdam Declaration - (2002)

*Secular Humanism
*Religious Humanism
*Institute for Humanist Studies - IHS
*Council for Secular Humanism
*International Humanist and Ethical Union
*Open Society Institute (OSI) - OSI
*American Ethical Union
*American Humanist Association
*British Humanist Association
*Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands
*Mouvement Europe et Laïcité
*Comité Laïcité République
*Fellowship of Reason
*The Secular Web
*Holocaust History Project
*Shoah Foundation
*Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial

*Theism and Religious Humanism: The Chasm Narrows
*Stiftung Weltethos


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