Mersenne and the Learning of the Schools by Peter Dear

By Peter Dear

Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) used to be a Jesuit expert Minim monk remembered by means of historians of technology basically for his prodigious correspondence with such contemporaries as Hobbes, Pascal and Descartes. Mersenne did unique paintings in arithmetic, mechanics astronomy and acoustics.

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Marion, from the startmg pomt of the correspondence we considered earlier, has claimed that Mersenne adhered to the position commonly attributed to Suarez, wh~reby necessary, eternal truths held without requiring divine causahty; moreover, Mersenne supposedly regarded mathematics from the same perspective. rent pages (I translate from Marion's own French translation): The power of God considers the possibles ... because the~ are necessary and eternal ... ; things in themselves independent 01 all causes are '37.

94. Francois de Dainville, "Foyers de culture scientifique dans la France meduerraneenne du XVI" au Xv l I l= siecle," Revue d'histoire des sciences 1 (1948),29°. Dialectic, Probabilism, and "Mitigated Scepticism" logicians [? analyticiJ examples of solid demonstrations; teaches politicians truly admirable methods for conducting affairs at home and during war; teaches physicists the manners and diversity of celestial move~ments, of light, of colors, of diaphanous bodies, of sounds; teaches metaphysicians the number of the spheres and intelligences; teaches theologians the principal parts of the divine creation; teaches jurists and canonists calendrical computation, not to speak of the services rendered by the work of mathematicians to the state, to medicine, to navigation, and to agriculture.

Things are corporeal, but the intellect is not; this distinction had led some scholastics to maintain that the conformity establishing truths of cognition was not in fact directly between the thing and the formal concept of it in the . " In the statement "that is a horse," for example, "that" represents the objective concept, since it identifies the thing of which a judgment is to be made. "Horse" represents the formal concept, the concept resulting from the judgment of what "that" is. Thus the objective concept held the status of "the thing insofar as it is known," distinct from the thing itself or from the idea the mind has of the thing?

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