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5 - The Later Sects: Cartesians, Gassendists, Leibnizians, and Newtonians

from Part I - The Disciplines

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2022

David Marshall Miller
Affiliation:
Iowa State University
Dana Jalobeanu
Affiliation:
University of Bucharest
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Summary

The Scientific Revolution completely transfigured the European intellectual landscape. Old divisions disappeared, while new fault lines emerged. Ancient philosophical sects had been replaced by new schools, featuring novel masters, disciples, and methodological commitments. However, the new schools still engaged in antagonistic discourse, attacking one another along new fronts—e.g., Cartesians against Gassendists, Newtonians against Leibnizians. This chapter presents the diverse philosophical camps that arose in the later stages of the Scientific Revolution by noting a shift in the use of the term ‘sect’. While it still signified something like an Ancient philosophical school for some, it could also take on a more negative polemical meaning, intended to disparage one’s opponents. Moreover, the individuals associated with the “sects” did not all faithfully subscribe to explicit, coherent, and systematic programs. On the contrary, declaring membership of a sect was as often a signal of opposition as of allegiance to a methodology or theory. Despite calls for conciliatory research programs, sectarian attitudes did not disappear by 1750, but delineated new battle lines between the Cartesians, the Leibnizians, and the Newtonians.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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