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Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII$
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Daniel Garber and Donald Rutherford

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198748717

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748717.001.0001

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Christian Wolff and Experimental Philosophy

Christian Wolff and Experimental Philosophy

(p.225) 7 Christian Wolff and Experimental Philosophy
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII

Alberto Vanzo

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues for three claims concerning the relation between Christian Wolff’s philosophy and the methodological views of early modern experimental philosophers. First, Wolff’s system relies on experience at every step and his views on experiments, observations, hypotheses, and the a priori are in line with those of experimental philosophers. Second, the study of Wolff’s views demonstrates the influence of experimental philosophy in early eighteenth-century Germany, well before Tetens and Feder endorsed the experimental method in the last three decades of the century. Third, Wolff’s thought is shaped by two distinct, but compatible, methodological commitments: to develop a thoroughly experimental philosophy and to build a system according to a mathematical demonstrative method. References to Wolff’s alleged empiricism and rationalism are best identified with references to his endorsement of the tenets of experimental philosophy and of a mathematical demonstrative method.

Keywords:   a priori, Christian Wolff, early modern experimental philosophy, mathematical method, empricism, rationalism

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