History of 17th Century PhilosophyJune 28, 2021
The philosophy of the 17th century is the philosophical trend that emerged to lay the foundations of the new age thought, based on the developments that emerged under the influence of the Renaissance.
The thinkers of the 17th century, who used the intellectual developments and ambiguous conceptual contents of the Renaissance, sought to reveal their philosophical formulas with complete solidity and precision, and with the studies they put forth, they grounded systematic philosophy with a new depth. The principles and basic concepts of Enlightenment thought were largely prepared in the philosophy of the 17th century.
Key Features of 17th Century Philosophy
The fragmentation and diversity of thought in the Renaissance was directed to systematization in a neat and exemplary manner in certain philosophical tendencies and worldviews during this period. Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Spinoza are the most important names of 17th century philosophy. Macit Gökberk says that 17th century philosophy is similar to medieval philosophy, not ancient or Renaissance philosophy, due to its unity and closedness. What provides this state of unity and closure is a completely different principle from the Middle Ages, rationalism.
Mathematics and physics are the origins of rationalism in the 17th century. There is a clear interest in mathematics and geometry in the thinkers who were decisive in this period. With the developments recorded, it was concluded that nature can also be understood with mathematical formulas or concepts; Based on the idea of a compatibility between nature and mind, matter and mind, the famous rationalism thought has been reached.
As a general trend, rationalism in the 17th philosophy will give rise to the so-called Cartesian philosophy, and this orientation will deeply affect the philosophy of enlightenment. There are dualist or monist rationalism models in this century; however, it can be said that dualist arguments dominate the main orientation of the history of philosophy for a certain period of time. Descartes’ arguments have continued to this day, especially his dualism has received severe criticism.
The developments in the natural sciences also had a decisive influence on the development of the philosophy of this period. Among these, the development called the Copernicus Revolution, Giordano Bruno’s universe design and Galileo’s developments in mechanics should be mentioned. Copernicus developed a system that would change an entire worldview. Its most basic result was that it clearly demonstrated the fallibility of the seeing eye in the face of reality. He corrected the illusion that the Sun, Moon and stars revolved around the Earth. Thus, he clarified a profound inference that we know the world we perceive, not the real world.
Apart from this, it also invalidated the universe model, which is a general trend but systematically found especially in Christian teaching. Anthropocentrism has become particularly problematic. Thus, the movements of both the universe and nature gain the quality of a whole. The mechanical system established by Galileo is another phase of the scientific developments of the period. The so-called law of inertia asserted that a motion would go straight in the direction it was pushed unless there was an opposing force. Later, Newton’s “general gravitational law” will be added to this, and the idea of the unity of the universe and nature will be finalized through the general validity of the laws of nature.
It has been inevitable that these developments will change the teachings and lead to changes in the theories of knowledge. It is possible to see the effects of these developments and new epistemological contributions in the philosophies of the 17th century. This influence will continue in the future and will play a decisive role in enlightenment thought and modern philosophies. These decisive developments of the mathematical and natural sciences gave the 17th century philosophers rationalism as well as the idea that nature is mathematically verifiable. It is not easy to divide the philosophy of the 17th century into historical periods with cuts like a knife, as it cannot be done with other periods. In a way, there are those who see Francis Bacon and John Locke as belonging to this period. Nevertheless, it is possible to briefly describe and evaluate the major philosophers (although there are many less influential and well-known but important in the development of thought) philosophers who determined the philosophy of the 17th century and gave direct direction to later philosophical developments.
 History of Philosophy; Macit Gokberk; Remzi Bookstore; page 250
Key Features of 17th Century Philosophy