Intellectual History and modernity - 'Early Modern Science and the Virtues of the Mind' Dr Sorana Corneanu (Bucharest)
Thursday September 27, 4.00 – 5.30pm
CCCS Seminar Room
Level 4, Forgan Smith Building
The intellectual virtues (or excellences of the contemplative intellect) were a firmly established domain of Aristotelian and scholastic thought, which pertained jointly to moral philosophy, theories of the soul, and theories of knowledge. With the advent of the ‘new philosophies’ of the early modern age, these virtues stopped being addressed in natural philosophical doctrines, and the names by which they had been known (scientia, intellectus, sapientia) acquired new meanings. But does this mean that the early moderns became uninterested in the excellences of the intellect in natural philosophical pursuits? By looking at the English space of seventeenth-century science, or ‘experimental philosophy,’ this paper suggests that the virtues of the mind do have a role to play in the new conceptions of natural inquiry. They are in fact moral virtues reinvested with epistemic content and correlated with the virtues of the practical and productive intellect (prudentia and ars), now transferred to the domain of natural inquiry. In others words, they lose their association with the traditional theory of the soul and become attached to a unified mind which merges the theoretical and the practical, the rational and the passionate.
Sorana Corneanu is researcher in early modern intellectual history at the ‘Foundations of Modern Thought’ Research Centre, University of Bucharest, and lecturer in the Department of English at the same University. She works on the relationships between moral, religious, and natural philosophical thought in seventeenth-century England, on which she has published several articles and a book entitled Regimens of the Mind: Boyle, Locke, and the Early Modern Cultura Animi Tradition (Chicago 2011). She is currently a member of a European Research Council research project on ‘Francis Bacon and the Medicine of the Mind’ (2010-2014) and, from July to October 2012, the Go8 European Fellow of the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland.
Centre for the History of European Discourses