Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between some corpuscularian and Aristotelian strands that run through the thought of the sixteenth-century philosopher and physician Julius Caesar Scaliger. Scaliger often uses the concepts of corpuscles, pores, and vacuum. At the same time, he also describes mixture as involving the fusion of particles into a continuous body. The paper explores how Scaliger's combination of corpuscularian and non-corpuscularian views is shaped, in substantial aspects, by his response to the views on corpuscles and the vacuum in the work of his contemporary, Girolamo Fracastoro. Fracastoro frequently appears in Scaliger's work as an opponent against whom numerous objections are directed. However, if one follows up Scaliger's references, it soon becomes clear that Scaliger also shares some of Fracastoro's views. Like Scaliger, Fracastoro suggests corpuscularian explanations of phenomena such as water rising in lime while at the same time ascribing some non-corpuscularian properties to his natural minima. Like Scaliger, Fracastoro maintains that there is no vacuum devoid of bodies since places cannot exist independently of bodies (although their opinions diverge regarding how exactly the relevant dependency relation might be explicated). Finally, like Scaliger, Fracastoro connects a continuum view of mixture with a theory of natural minima.

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Author notes

Andreas Blank taught at the philosophy departments of the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Free University of Berlin. He has been Visiting Fellow at the Center of Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, and at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University. In 2008, he is Research Fellow at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbuettel. His publications include Der logische Aufbau von Leibniz' Metaphysik (2001) and Leibniz: Metaphilosophy and Metaphysics, 1666–1686 (2005).