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The Beginning of Modern Philosophy

Modern philosophy becomes empirical in tendency with Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Criticism awoke, old theological systems with their traditional authority and ecclesiasticism were challenged. The individual asserted his independence.

Philosophy cut loose from theology and nursed the fires of science. Nominalism became entwined in the natural study of man. Dante eulogized the medieval spirit and Goethe (in Faust) typified the spirit of the Renaissance.

Nature philosophies first appeared in Italy, the cradle of learning in this period of culture, with Cardan and Telesio. Science burst forth in Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Copernicus (1473-1543), Galileo (1564-1641), Kepler (1571-1630), and Newton (1642-1727). Pope Leo XIII made the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas the official philosophy of the Catholic Church, opposing naturalistic tendencies.

The New Science

Scientific development appears in Telesio, who founded the Telesian Academy, a naturalistic science society at Naples. Francis Patrizzi (1529-1597) combined Telesian principles with Neo-Platonism and Aristotelian forms, essences, purposes, and ends were replaced by mechanical explanations of nature determined by fixed laws.

Kepler's discoveries became the groundwork for modern astronomy. Robert Boyle (1627-1691) introduced the atomic theory into chemistry. Galileo reasserted the atomic theory of Democritus (there is neither origin nor decay, everything is atomic movement). Quantitative relations brought forward mathematical laws and Leonardo, Kepler, and Galileo took their science from these sources.

Copernicus built his heliocentric theory of astronomy. Newton discovered the law of gravitation (1682). Darwin, in the nineteenth century, pushed these frontiers to apparent conquest. He explained organic forms organically and mechanically, rejecting all teleological thought such as vital force and purpose. The first really modern system of philosophy is that of Giordano Bruno.

Adapted from the book: "Modern Philosophy"

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