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Philosophy and Its HistoryAims and Methods in the Study of Early Modern Philosophy$
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Mogens Laerke, Justin E. H. Smith, and Eric Schliesser

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199857142

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199857142.001.0001

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Mediating between Past and Present:

Mediating between Past and Present:

Descartes, Newton, and Contemporary Structural Realism

(p.278) 13 Mediating between Past and Present:
Philosophy and Its History

Mary Domski

Oxford University Press

Building off a proposal from Margaret Wilson, this chapter defends a form of appropriationist history of philosophy that is compatible with contextualist approaches to philosophical texts. The main goal of this appropriationism is to identify the sense in which past philosophy is different from contemporary philosophy, and to thereby illuminate the philosophical foundations on which our current philosophical debates rest. This form of appropriationism is developed in the context of Descartes’ and Newton’s seventeenth century approaches to the mathematization of nature. The specific goal is to show that a contextualist reading of early modern philosophy can enhance the current discussions among structural realists, which are focused on whether in and in what sense our mathematically-formulated physical theories are true (or approximately true) presentations of the natural order.

Keywords:   appropriationism, René Descartes, contextualism, mathematization of nature, Isaac Newton, structural realism

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