Abstract

This paper investigates the inºuence of Galileo's natural philosophy on the philosophical and methodological doctrines of Thomas Hobbes. In particular, I argue that what Hobbes took away from his encounter with Galileo was the fundamental idea that the world is a mechanical system in which everything can be understood in terms of mathematically-specifiable laws of motion. After tracing the history of Hobbes's encounters with Galilean science (through the “Welbeck group” connected with William Cavendish, earl of Newcastle and the “Mersenne circle” in Paris), I argue that Hobbes's 1655 treatise De Corpore is deeply indebted to Galileo. More specifically, I show that Hobbes's mechanistic theory of mind owes a significant debt to Galileo while his treatment of the geometry of parabolic figures in chapter 16 of De Corpore was taken almost straight out of the account of accelerated motion Two New Sciences

Note

My references to Hobbes's De Corpore use the abbreviation “DCo” followed by part, chapter, and section numbers separated by periods;citations to the Opera Latina (Hobbes [1839–45] 1966a) or English Works (Hobbes [1839–45] 1966b) follow, using the abbreviations EW and OL.For Hobbes's works other than DCo, citations are to volume and page of EW or OL. References to Hobbes's correspondence (Hobbes 1994) use the abbreviation CTH.References to Galileo's Opere (Galilei 1890–1909) are abbreviated Opere, followed by volume and page number.

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