The Rise of Modern Philosophy

By Anthony Kenny | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Natural Philosophy

The period at the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth was one of great importance in the philosophy of the natural world. What had been, up to this point, a single discipline of 'natural philosophy' gradually split into two different endeavours: the philosophy of natural science and the science of physics. Both disciplines share a common subject matter, but they have different purposes and operate in different ways. The philosophy of nature seeks an understanding of the concepts we employ in describing and accounting for natural phenomena: concepts such as 'space', 'time', 'motion', and 'change'. Scientific physics seeks to establish and explain the phenomena themselves, not by a priori reasoning or conceptual analysis, but by observation, experiment, and hypothesis. The two disciplines are not in competition, and indeed each needs the other; but it is of prime importance to keep in mind the difference between their goals and methods.

The separation of the two was achieved, in this early modern period, in the course of a battle about the authority of the natural philosophy of Aristotle, which contains elements of both disciplines indiscriminately entwined. That philosophy remained dominant in universities both Catholic and Protestant throughout the period, and its influence undoubtedly acted as a brake on the development of sciences such as mechanics and astronomy. These sciences gathered impetus only to the extent that the Aristotelian yoke was thrown off, and this was due above all to three philosophers who attacked the system from outside the academic mainstream: Galileo, Bacon, and Descartes. Sadly, the liberation of physics was


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Rise of Modern Philosophy


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 356

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?