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“A Truer Philosophy”

  • Barry Brundell
Chapter
Part of the Synthese Historical Library book series (SYHL, volume 30)

Abstract

In the first letter which he wrote to Galileo (20.7.1625), Gassendi made early mention of his project of persuading his contemporaries to adopt “a truer and better philosophy” than Aristotelianism,1 and when Gassendi was well on the way to completion of his project Thomas Hobbes is reported to have read his manuscripts and to have approved of what he read in them because he considered that Gassendi’s Epicurean philosophy was “much truer” than Aristotle’s.2 Gassendi deliberately chose the comparative “truer” (verisimilior) in preference to the absolute term “true” in order to distinguish his goals from those of the dogmatic philosophers, those who claimed to have knowledge of the essences of things and those who, like Robert Fludd, claimed to have found the “philosophical key” to the universe.3 Yet there were times when Gassendi, too, was tempted to expound his corpuscular theory in more dogmatic style, for he evidently believed that the obstacles to verification of the corpuscular explanation of natural processes were technological, and that it is only our divinely-willed human frailty that prevents us from appreciating the full truth of the Epicurean doctrines.4 However, he did not succumb to the temptation, for the whole thrust of his reaction to Aristotelianism depended on his not crossing the divide between scepticism and dogmatism.

Keywords

Prime Matter Efficient Causality Divine Nature Corporeal Nature True Philosophy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    “Verisimiliorem sanioremque philosophiam” (Letter to Galileo of 20.7.1625, in P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, VI, p.5a.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. letter of Sir Charles Cavendish to John Pell of 10.10.1644: “Mr Hobbes writes Gassendes his philosophie is not yet printed but he hath reade it, and that it is as big as Aristotle’s philosophie, but much truer and excellent Latin.” (J.O. Halliwell: 1841, A collection of letters illustrative of the progress of science in England from the reign of Queen Elizabeth to that of Charles the Second, Historical Society of Science, London, p.85.)Google Scholar
  3. 3a.
    Robert Fludd was a London medical practitioner whose name was linked with the secret Rosicrucian Fraternity, so that he was often accepted as a spokesman for the Fraternity. Fludd was criticised by Kepler in the Harmonices mundi (1619), and the controversy between Kepler and Fludd continued until 1623. Following the publication of Marin Mersenne’s Quaestiones celeberrimae in Genesim (1623), Fludd attacked the author in his Sophiae cum moria certamen (1629). Gassendi’s critique of Fludd (cf. infra) was a response, on Mersenne’s behalf, to the latter work of Fludd in which the author had complained that Mersenne made too much of pagan philosophy to the neglect of the philosophy of Moses, i.e. the philosophy of the Hermetica and the Cabbala. (Cf. A.G. Debus: 1965, The English Paracelsians, Oldbourne, London.Google Scholar
  4. 3b.
    A.G. Debus: 1975, “The chemical debates of the seventeenth century: the reaction of Robert Fludd and Jean Baptiste van Helmont”, in M.L. Righini Bonelli and W.R. Shea (Eds.): 1975 (second edition), Reason, experiment and mysticism in the scientific revolution, Macmillan, London, pp. 19–47.Google Scholar
  5. 3c.
    R. Lenoble: 1971, Mersenne ou la naissance du mécanisme, Paris, pp.27ff..Google Scholar
  6. 3d.
    J. Godwin: 1979, Robert Fludd, Hermetic philosopher and surveyor of two worlds, Thames and Hudson, London.) Fludd often referred to his philosophy as “the true philosophy”.Google Scholar
  7. 3e.
    cf. W.H. Huffman and R.A. Seelinger, Jr.: 1978, “Robert Fludd’s ‘Declarado brevis’ to James I”, in Ambix, 25, pp.69–92, espc. p.82.Google Scholar
  8. 3f.
    R.S. Westman: 1984, “Nature art and psyche: Jung, Pauli and the Kepler-Fludd polemic”, in B. Vickers: 1984, Occult and scientific mentalities in the Renaissance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 177–229, espc. p.194.Google Scholar
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    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, p.463a-b; also O.R. Bloch: 1971, La philosophie de Gassendi. Nominalisme, matérialisme et métaphysique, Martinus Nijhoff, La Haye, pp.466–472.Google Scholar
  10. 5.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, pp.1–30. This Liber proemialis de philosophia universe is of uncertain date. The discoloured condition of the manuscript, and the character of the handwriting, indicate that it was written at a date rather earlier than the rest of MS Tours 706, which is the manuscript of the Syntagma version.Google Scholar
  11. 6.
    Ch.1, Quid philosophia sit? Ch.2, De fine philosophiae. Google Scholar
  12. 7.
    Ch.6, Quam variae apud Graecos fuerint philosophandi rationes, et sectae. Google Scholar
  13. 8.
    Ch.9, Philosophiae partitio. Google Scholar
  14. 9.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp. 14a-16a.Google Scholar
  15. 10.
    Idem, I, p.l4a-b.Google Scholar
  16. 11.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p. 15a.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Cf. letter of Gassendi to Peiresc of 2.12.1628 in C. de Waard (Ed.): 1945–1972, Correspondence du P. Marin Mersenne, Religieux Minime, 12 vols., Paris, 1945–1972, II, p.148.Google Scholar
  18. 15a.
    P. Gassendi: 1630, Epistolica exercitado, in qua principia philosophiae Roberti Fluddi, medici, reteguntur, et ad recentes illius libros adversus R.P.F. Marinum Mersennumrespondetur…, S. Cramoisy, Paris, in P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, III, pp.213–267. The term “Hermeticism” refers to a mystical approach to nature that was popular in the Renaissance, especially in the sixteenth century. Hermeticism had a speculative philosophy as its basis, and embraced a wide variety of practical applications in the fields of astrology, alchemy and other occult sciences; it was characterised by an animist and magical view of nature. The literary sources of Hermeticism were especially the Corpus Hermeticum and the Asclepius, written, according to a tradition that dated from the fourth century, by a certain Egyptian priest named Hermes Trismegistus who lived shortly after the time of Moses.Google Scholar
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    (Cf. W. Scott (Ed.): 1924, Hermetica. The ancient Greek and Latin writings which contain religious and philosophic teachings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, Clarendon Press, Oxford.) The writings of Hermes Trismegistus, therefore, were reputed to transmit the ancient Egyptian wisdom, the Divine revelation to the Gentiles, which prophetically foreshadowed Christianity in a more obscure manner than the literature of the Chosen People. It was also reputed to have been a source of Platonic wisdom; consequently, Renaissance neo-Platonism was deeply affected by Hermeticism. Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499) translated the Greek text of the Hermetic literature into Latin in the fifteenth century, and his translation was very influential thereafter until the early seventeenth century. The mysteries of the Jewish Cabbala, occult expressions of the doctrines of the Jewish religion coloured by Parsi, Zoroastrian, neo-Platonic, neo-Pythagorean, Christian, Gnostic and Muslim influences, were linked with the Hermetic tradition especially through the works of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (uncle of Gianfrancesco). It was demonstrated by Isaac Casaubon in 1614 that the Hermetica were written in post-Christian times, so their neo-Platonic features derived from direct association with neo-Platonic philosophy; they were not the intellectual antecedents of Plato’s own philosophy, as was previously supposed.Google Scholar
  20. M. Mersenne: 1632, Quaestiones celeberrimae in Genesim…, S. Cramoisy, Paris, cols.569–572; cf. cols.714–718. Cf. P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, III, p.215.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    “The absurdity and impiety are both astonishing.” “Mira etenim hinc absurditatis, illinc impietatis species.” (Idem, p.262a.)Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    “Nulla ratione excusari potest prophanus abusus, quo dum isti puris impura permiscent, Scripturam sacram, Fidei mysteria, Religionis ritus pessundant, et nihil tarn sanctam non violent, modo ad Alchymiam traducant.” (Idem, p.253a.)Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    Idem, pp.22 lb, 236a.Google Scholar
  24. 21.
    Idem, pp.236b-237b, 226b.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    Gassendi wrote: “While you [Mersenne] pursue an open philosophy which deals with things perceptible, he philosophises as if he wishes to hide himself all the time, spreading an inky cloud under which he might escape the hook.” “Cum philosophiam enim apertam, et sensibilem ipse prosequaris, ille tarnen sic philosophatur, ut velit semper delitescere, attramentum offundendo, sub quo hamum effugiat.” (Idem, p.213.)Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    Idem, p.231b.Google Scholar
  27. 24.
    “His division for the Monochord is purely arbitrary.” “Suam Monochordi divisionem esse mere arbitrariam.” (Idem, p.246b.) And again: “Whereas you [Mersenne, Kepler] accept laws of harmony based on quantity and numbers, he ties his harmony to pure symbols.” “Quamdiu vos quidem Harmonicas leges penes quantitatem, numerosque acceperitis: ipse vero Harmoniam suam alligaverit meris symbolismis.” (Idem, p.227b.)Google Scholar
  28. 25.
    Idem, pp.23 lb, 233a.Google Scholar
  29. 27.
    Gassendi’s claim that his Epicurean philosophy was a philosophy of progress needs to be carefully interpreted. Generally, Gassendi’s notion of progress was of progress in understanding, not technological progress. For Gassendi the natural philosopher was a contemplative and a spectator, exploring the effects of a creativity that was not his own. Thus Gassendi did not share the ideal of Francis Bacon of obtaining knowledge that will make humankind masters of nature. For Gassendi, the philosopher seeks self-mastery. Cf. P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp.1ff. In adhering to this idea of progress, Gassendi followed the tradition of medieval scholasticism; cf. F. Copleston: 1946–1975, A history of philosophy, 9 vols., Burns, Oates and Washbourne, London, III, pp.21, 357.Google Scholar
  30. 28.
    “De materiali principio, sive materia prima rerum”, in P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp.229a-282b. This is the title given to the treatise in the Syntagma version written between 1649 and 1654. The Syntagma version is the 1637 version, MS Tours 709, Bk. XIII and Bk. XV, combined and expanded.Google Scholar
  31. 29.
    Lucretius, De natura rerum, (Loeb classical library edition), I, 635–950.Google Scholar
  32. 30.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp.234a-237b; cf. MS Tours 709, ff.218v-228v. This section was much re-written for the Syntagma version.Google Scholar
  33. 31.
    Idem, I, p.241a-b; cf. MS Tours 709, ff.295v, 229rff.Google Scholar
  34. 32.
    Idem, I, p.244a; cf. MS Tours 709, ff.231v-232r.Google Scholar
  35. 33.
    Idem, I, pp.244b-247a; cf. MS Tours 709, ff.232v-233v.Google Scholar
  36. 34.
    “Sine qualitate, sine forma, sine specie, sine figura” Idem, I, pp.247b-256a; cf. MS Tours 709, ff.235r-243r.Google Scholar
  37. 35.
    According to Gassendi’s account, all these philosophers had a theory of matter as devoid of all quality, except, in the case of some, e.g. Plato, the quality of shape. (Cf. Plato, Timaeus 53c-55c; also P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, pp.233a-b, 236a.)Google Scholar
  38. 36.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp.256a-266a; cf. MS Tours 709, ff.l66v-176r. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, De clarorum philosophorum vitis, dogmatibus et apothegmatibus libri decern, X, (G. Arrighetti (Ed.): 1973, Epicuro opere, G. Einaudi, Turin), 44.7–8.Google Scholar
  39. 37.
    Diogenes Laertius, De clarorum philosophorum vitis, 41.1–5.Google Scholar
  40. 38.
    “Plenam quandam, seu vacui expertem, solidamque adeo naturam; quippe quae non habeat qua ex parte aut quomodo fissuram admittat sicque dissolvatur.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.258b.)Google Scholar
  41. 39.
    Cf. MS Tours 709, f.l67r.Google Scholar
  42. 40.
    “Adnotare autem lubet dici ατομον non ut vulgo putant (et quidem alioquin eruditi interpretantur) quod partibus careat, et magnitudine omni destituatur, sitque proinde aliud nihil quam punctum mathematicum.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.256b.)Google Scholar
  43. 41.
    Cf. e.g., Plato, Timaeus 30c-d, 42a-d, 92.Google Scholar
  44. 42a.
    For a study of this theory in the work of Paracelsus, van Helmont, Nicolas LèFevre and others, see D.R. Oldroyd: 1974, “Some neo-Platonic and Stoic influences on mineralogy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”, in Ambix, 21, pp.128–156.Google Scholar
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    concerning the assumption in the writings of Agrippa, Pico, Reuchlin and Fludd, see S.K. Heninger, Jr.: 1977, The Cosmographical Glass. Renaissance diagrams of the universe, The Huntingdon Library, Pasadena, pp.81ff; for Paracelsus, van Helmont, LeFèvre, and for two other philosophers not so far mentioned, viz. Sir George Ripley and Jean d’Espagnet.Google Scholar
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    see B.J.T. Dobbs: 1975, The foundations of Newton’s alchemy or The hunting of the greene lyon’, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp.35–39.Google Scholar
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  48. 45.
    “Universum, ex Epicuro, duplici constare natura, corporea puta, et incorporea.” (MS Tours 709, f.l56r.)Google Scholar
  49. 46.
    Thus, “Liber decimus-tertius de atomis hoc est de natura corporea simplici” became “Liber decimustertius de atomis”. (MS Tours 709, f.166v.)Google Scholar
  50. 47.
    “De inane, seu loco…” (MS Tours 709, f.l93r.)Google Scholar
  51. 48.
    E.g. MS Tours 709, f.l93r; P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.185a. Gassendi’s reference is to Sextus Empiricus, Against the physicists (Loeb classical library edition), II,2.Google Scholar
  52. 50.
    “Liber decimus-quintus de principiis, seu elementis” (“seu materia rerum” having been crossed out and “seu elementis” having been put in its place). (MS Tours 709, f.215r.)Google Scholar
  53. 51.
    “C.1. Quatenus natura concreta materialibus principiis seu elementis indigeat.” (MS Tours 709, f.215r.)Google Scholar
  54. 52.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp. 179a-184b. It is to be noted, also, that this description of space more closely resembles the Stoic doctrine of the void as described in Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonnism (Loeb classical library edition), III, 124.Google Scholar
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    “De eadem iuxta Epicuram, Democritum, caeterosque adsertores atomorum.” (MS Tours 709, ff.243v-246v.)Google Scholar
  56. 54.
    MS Tours 709, ff.206r, 244v; cf. P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.281a.Google Scholar
  57. 55.
    Gassendi argued both that the Epicurean doctrine of atoms and the Aristotelian doctrine of prime matter, and that the Epicurean doctrine of modes and the Aristotelian doctrine of qualities and accidents, were equivalent. Cf. supra, Ch.3.Google Scholar
  58. 57.
    “Durum quidem videri potest ipsum inane cum pertinere ad substantiam debeat, adpellari non modo ens, sed etiam ens per se existens; attamen ex infra dicendis tarn de inani quam de tempore hoc non impossibile fiet. Illud est gravius, non quod substantia in corpoream et incorpoream dividatur, sed quod nomine incorporeae non intelligat Epicurus neque Naturam Divinam, neque naturam daemoniam, sive intelligentiarum, neque naturam animi.” (MS Tours 709, f.l58r.)Google Scholar
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    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.247a.Google Scholar
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    T. Campanella: 1620, De sensu rerum et magia, libri quatuor…, Frankfurt, Bk. 1, ch. 12.Google Scholar
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    “De hoc autem spatio, seu loco, cui trina dimensio, longitudo, profunditas competat, non alia [Patritius] tradit, quam quae ipsi de eo ratiocinati superius sumus.” (Idem, I, p.246a.)Google Scholar
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    “Franciscus Patritius… superiore saeculo… novam, veram, integram (eius sunt verba) de universo conditurus philosophiam, comprobasse se illius pronunciata dixit ex divinis oraculis (intelligit autem non modo Mosaica, sed etiam, quae fuere Zoroastris, Trismegisti, Orphei, etc.) geometricis necessitatibus, philosophicis rationibus, clarissimis experimentis.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia I, p.246a.)Google Scholar
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    Idem, I, pp.243b-247b.Google Scholar
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    “Dicunt… Stoici nostri duo esse in rerum natura, ex quibus omnia fiunt, caussam, et materiam. Materia jacet iners, res ad omnia parata, cessatura si nemo mo vet. Caussa autem, id est ratio, materiam format, et quocumque vult, versat. Ex illa varia opera prodeunt. Esse ergo debet aliquid unde fiat, deinde a quo fiat. Hoc caussa est, illud materia. Omnis ars imitatio est naturae: itaque quod de universo dicebam huc transfer. Statua et materiam habuit quae pateretur, et artificem qui materiam daret faciem. Ergo in statua, materia aes fuit, caussa artifex. Eadem conditio rerum omnium est. Ex eo constant quod sit, et ex eo quod facit. Stoicis placet unam caussam esse id quod facit.” (Seneca, Ad Lucilium epistolae morales (Loeb classical library edition), LXV, 2–3; MS Tours 709,f.247r; P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.229a.)Google Scholar
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    “De principio efficiente, seu de causis rerum.” (Idem, I, pp.283a-337b.)Google Scholar
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    “De causis, fortuna et fato.” (MS Tours 709, f.247r.)Google Scholar
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    “Ut dicam vero id quod res est, non videtur materia nisi improprie dici caussa: neque enim proprie requisieris ex qua caussa facta sit statua.” (MS Tours 709, f.248r; cf. P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.284a.)Google Scholar
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    “Et quamvis Epicurus posset materiam caussam dicere ob motum atomis coaevum, non tarnen Aristoteles, qui materiam inertem facit.” (MS Tours 709, f.248r; P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.284a.)Google Scholar
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    “It is quite out of the question to conceive of them [forms] in the way the Peripatetics do, as immaterial entities, for such entities are not even true entities, let alone being able to act and be causes.” “Concipere illas profecto non licet, more Peripatetico, tanquam entitates experteis materiae, quae ne entitates quidem verae sunt, tantum abest ut agere, caussaeque esse valeant.” (MS Tours 709, f.252r.) Cf. also P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.285a; this passage attacking the Aristotelian claim that forms are causes is almost entirely an addition to the Syntagma version. In MS Tours 709, ff.247r-248r Gassendi had been content to argue that forms were only improperly speaking causes, and that Aristotle had almost said as much; in the Syntagma version Gassendi attacked the Aristotelian doctrine explicitly on the false grounds that Aristotle claimed that forms were efficient causes.Google Scholar
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    “… ex commistis et coalitis, et vi quadam omneis permanente contends, veluti planta, animal.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p. 155b; cf. MS Tours 709, f.452r.)Google Scholar
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    “Plerique quidem, sed non omnes fatentur esse vim quandam per totum mundum sic diffusam, parteisque eius continentem, cuiusmodi in animali est anima; ut in nobis, membrisque nostris vis illa interna, qua vivimus, sentimus, imaginamur, movemur; et qua digressa dissolvimur, taleque nihil amplius praestamus.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p. 155b; cf. MS Tours 709, f.452r.)Google Scholar
  104. 107.
    Cf. Plato, Timaeus 34a-47e. This is the chief source for both Platonic and Pythagorean doctrine on the World Soul. Cf. also S.K. Heninger, Jr.: 1977, The cosmographical glass, pp.81–143.Google Scholar
  105. 108.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp. 155b, 157a; cf. MS Tours 709, ff.448r, 449v. Gassendi clearly misrepresented the position: there was considerable affinity between the doctrine of the World Soul of the new-Pythagoreans and neo-Platonists and that of the ancient Pythagoreans and Platonists. Furthermore, the World Soul doctrine was worked out in some detail by Plato (cf. Timaeus 34a-47e).Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p. 155b.Google Scholar
  107. 110.
    “Arbitrabar nihil propterea derogari sacrae Fidei, quod et forma tantum quaedam a Deo dependens intelligeretur, et Anima diceretur esse sui generis, hoc est a tribus illis vulgatis, vegetativo, sensitivo ac rationali distincti, et nominatim spiritualis gratiae ac foelicitatis uti nostra humana est, esse incapax censeretur.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, III, p.236a.Google Scholar
  108. 111.
    “Vel Animam Mundi, vel Mentem, vel Deum, vel quidvis aliud.” (MS Tours 709, f.235v.)Google Scholar
  109. 112.
    “Satis est enim quod tenuerint eandem prope rem quam nos profitemur.” (MS Tours 709, f.253v.)Google Scholar
  110. 113.
    “Naturam… divinam ubique adesse, quae in res omneis intime per sui essentiam, praesentiam, potentiamque sic illabatur, ut omnia conservei, coagat rebus omnibus, ipsa conditrix omnium rerum.” (MS Tours 709, ff.253v-254r.)Google Scholar
  111. 114.
    “Neque obstat quod talem causam vel Deum, vel Mentem, vel Naturam, vel Necessitatem, vel Fatum, vel quidvis aliud dixerint, satis est enim quod tenuerint eandem prope rem quem nos profitemur.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I. p.287b.)Google Scholar
  112. 115.
    “Vis ilium [Deum] Fatum vocare? Non errabis; hic est ex quo suspensa sunt omnia, causa causarum. Vis ilium Providentiam? Recte dices; est enim cuius consilio huic mundo providetur, ut inconcussus eat et actus suos explicet. Vis Naturam vocare? Non peccabis; est enim ex quo nata sunt omnia cuius spiritu vivimus, etc” (Seneca, Quaestiones naturales (cf. Loeb classical library edition), II, 45.2.)Google Scholar
  113. 116a.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p. 155b; MS Tours 709, f.448r. The theory of an all-pervading heat was adopted by the Stoics. The following is a frequently quoted Stoic saying: “Nature is an artistically working fire, going on its way to create”, (Diogenes Laertius, De clarorum philosophorum vitis, VII, 156.5.). Cf. S. Sambursky: 1959, Physics of the Stoics, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, pp.3–4.Google Scholar
  114. 116b.
    Cf. the comprehensive article on the subject by Rosaleen Love: 1972, “Some sources of Herman Boerhaave’s concept of fire”, in Ambix, 19, pp.157–174. This passage concerning the alleged legitimate and illegitimate ways in which one might consider that the world had a soul reflects not only Gassendi’s critique of the doctrine of the World Soul as expounded by Robert Fludd.Google Scholar
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    but also a long history of philosophical discussion before that (cf. Richard C. Dales: 1980, “Medieval deanimation of the heavens”, in Journal of the history of ideas, 41, pp.531–550).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp.l58b-159a; MS Tours 709, ff.451v-452v.Google Scholar
  117. 118.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, pp. 169b-178b, especially pp. 170b-171a.Google Scholar
  118. 119.
    “Quaeres forte quandonam fuerint ista semina in terra creata?… at nobis dicendum posse perdurare a primo usque conditu rerum; fuisse enim a Deo effecta, et varie per terram ubicuique fuit commodius respersa cum iussit terram germinare, herbarumque et arborum species omneis producere.” (Idem, II, p. 170b. Cf. D. Laertius, De clarorum philosophorum vitis, 38.9; 74.9–10.) In adopting the theory of “seeds” as presented by Epicurus, Gassendi eschewed the theories of the Stoic-Epicurean tradition which were underpinned by the World-Soul theory. Cf. D.R. Oldroyd: 1974, “Some neo-Platonic and Stoic influences on mineralogy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”, in Ambix, 21, pp.128–156.Google Scholar
  119. 120.
    Genesis, I, 11–12.Google Scholar
  120. 121.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, p.l70a-b.Google Scholar
  121. 122.
    This theory was not peculiar to Cabbalist doctrine.Google Scholar
  122. 123.
    “Nullam esse herbam aut plantam inferius cuius non sit Stella in firmamento quae earn percutiat et dicat ei, cresce.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, p. 170a.)Google Scholar
  123. 124.
    “Quippe opus quidem est calore solis quo terra stipata solvatur ipsaque seminum substantia discutiatur quadamtenus, sed calor huiuscemodi causa est solum extrinseca seu amovens impedimenta quae vim seminalem sive formatricem tenent irretitam, sopitam, inertem.” (Idem, II, p. 170b; cf. Aristotle, De generatione animalium 743a.35–36, and Theophrastus, De causis plantarum 1.5.5.)Google Scholar
  124. 125.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, p. 170b.Google Scholar
  125. 126.
    Cf. S.K. Heninger, The gosmographical glass, pp.81–143.Google Scholar
  126. 127.
    “Ita, quo lapides formentur, debet omnino praeter calorem aliudve agens extrinsecum esse interiorem quaedam vis quae conformationem moliatur et seminalis censeri possit.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, p.114a.)Google Scholar
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    Idem, II, pp.3a-b, 112a-143b. Cf. O.R. Bloch: 1971, La philosophie de Gassendi. Nominalisme, matérialisme et métaphysique, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, pp.261ff; Bloch considers that Gassendi was much influenced by Etienne de Clave in his treatment of the subject.Google Scholar
  128. 129.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, p.113a-b.Google Scholar
  129. 130.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp.713a-752b.Google Scholar
  130. 131.
    Idem, II, pp.113b-114a.Google Scholar
  131. 132a.
    J. Kepler: 1611, Sirena seu de nive sexangula, Frankfurt.Google Scholar
  132. 132b.
    (C. Hardie (Ed. and Transi.): 1966, J. Kepler, The six-cornered snow flake), Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  133. 133.
    “An rerum omnium naturalium ut peculiaria sunt semina ita peculiares figurae, atque adeo ut animalia, ut plantae, ut lapides, non-nisi certis delineantur formis, sic delineantur caeterae res seminum suorum necessitate?… ut proinde possit nix quoque ratione illa sibi propria crescendo configuran.” (P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, p.81a.)Google Scholar
  134. 134.
    Idem, II, p.81a.Google Scholar
  135. 135.
    Cf. the third letter De proportione qua gravia decidentia accelerantur, in P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, III, pp.625–650, espc. pp.630b-636a.Google Scholar
  136. 136.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, pp.345b-346a; II, pp.l22a-135bGoogle Scholar
  137. 137.
    P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, II, pp. 128a-135b.Google Scholar
  138. 138.
    “Virtutem… magnetis in ferrum emissam effluxum esse corporeum, constantemve ex corpusculis quae pro dispositione qua sunt corpusculorum ferri immutationem faciant.” (Idem, II, p. 129b.)Google Scholar
  139. 139.
    Idem, II, p. 132a.Google Scholar
  140. 140.
    Idem, II, P.1332a. Google Scholar
  141. 142.
    “Difficultas praesertim est de caussis internis, quas qui investigant dicuntur non immerito scrutari arcana naturae.” (MS Tours 709, f.248v; cf. P. Gassendi, Opera omnia, I, p.284a.)Google Scholar
  142. 143.
    Cf. Keith Hutchison: 1982, “What happened to occult qualities in the scientific revolution?” in Isis, 73, pp.233–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  143. The results of my researches into Gassendi’s attitude to “obscure” philosophy corroborate Brian Vickers’ description of the opposition of men of science in the seventeenth century to the “occult mentality”; cf. B. Vickers (Ed.): 1984, Occult and scientific mentalities in the Renaissance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, introduction and pp.95–163, “Analogy versus identity: the rejection of occult symbolism”. I found Vicker’s treatment especially helpful when I came to compose the next few paragraphs.Google Scholar
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    Robert Boyle: 1661, The sceptical chymist, (Everyman Library edition), p.23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Brundell
    • 1
  1. 1.Saint Paul’s National SeminarySydneyAustralia

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