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The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science

Overview

The Theater of Nature is histoire totale of the last work of the political philosopher Jean Bodin, his Universae naturae theatrum (1596). Through Bodin's work, Ann Blair explores the fascinating and previously little known world of late Renaissance natural philosophy. A study of the text, of its context (through comparisons with different genres of natural philosophy and works entitled "Theater"), and of its reception in the seventeenth century highlights above all the religious motivations, encyclopedic ...

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Overview

The Theater of Nature is histoire totale of the last work of the political philosopher Jean Bodin, his Universae naturae theatrum (1596). Through Bodin's work, Ann Blair explores the fascinating and previously little known world of late Renaissance natural philosophy. A study of the text, of its context (through comparisons with different genres of natural philosophy and works entitled "Theater"), and of its reception in the seventeenth century highlights above all the religious motivations, encyclopedic ambitions, and bookish methods characterizing much of late Renaissance science.

Amid the religious crisis and the explosion of knowledge in the late sixteenth century, natural philosophy offered grounds for consensus across religious divides and a vast collection of useful and pleasant information, admired for both its order and its variety. The commonplace book provided a versatile tool for gathering and sorting bits of natural knowledge garnered from a wide array of bookish sources and "experience,'' fueling a vigorous cycle of text-based science at least through the mid-seventeenth century. The miscellaneous genre of the problemata into which Bodin's text was adapted attracted more popular audiences until even later.

To place the Theatrum in its cultural context is also to reveal more clearly the peculiarities of Bodin's philosophical project in this, its final expression. He combined arguments from reason, experience, and authority to undermine traditional Aristotelian conclusions and proposed instead a natural philosophy based on pious, often biblical, solutions.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691056753
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 8/4/1997
  • Pages: 382
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Conventions
Introduction 3
Ch. 1 Kinds of Natural Philosophy 14
Ch. 2 Methods of Bookishness 49
Ch. 3 Modes of Argument 82
Ch. 4 Bodin's Philosophy of Nature 116
Ch. 5 Theatrical Metaphors 153
Ch. 6 The Reception of the Theatrum 180
Epilogue: The Legacies of the Theatrum 225
Notes 233
Bibliography 331
Index 369
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