Key Features of 17th Century PhilosophyJune 28, 2021
Compared to the philosophy of the Renaissance, the following can be noted as the main features of the philosophy of the 17th century:
1. The philosophy of the Renaissance, like the whole of the cultural environment in which it developed, is a philosophy that has not yet settled and is in a search and research breakthrough. The philosophy of the 17th century, on the other hand, will compile and collect the knowledge provided by the Renaissance, and develop a thought connection with unity and integrity from it.
2. The Renaissance philosophy, which took ancient philosophy as an example and was a reflection of it in many ways, created a very colorful picture of thought. The philosophy of the 17th century, on the other hand, is a more or less uniform mindset with more or less unification in the problems it deals with. What gives him this coherence is that he found the example of knowledge in mathematics and physics. Mathematics, which was the most original and greatest achievement of the Renaissance, showed that we could comprehend nature correctly with mathematical concepts; therefore, he revealed that there is a correspondence between reason and nature. Therefore, it is said that this method should be applied to other areas of existence as well. The unity of nature and the claims that it is mathematically constructed are the main ideas of mathematical physics. Since nature is mathematically constructed, the measurable quantitative aspects of objects are their true reality. Therefore, knowledge must include the measurable aspects of objects and the relationships between them, and from these basic elements, object reconstruction, clear and therefore accurate information is reached (Galilei).
Descartes (1596-1650) was the initiator of the 17th century philosophy. He first put forward the problems of this philosophy and tried the solutions first. Those who come after him will focus on the same problems and work towards the same solution attempts. In this respect, the philosophy of the 17th century is Cartesianism. Descartes is also a creative mathematician: he became the founder of analytical geometry by applying the method of arithmetic to geometry. According to Descartes, philosophy should use the method of analytical geometry and mathematical physics if there is to be a true connection.
Descartes, who did not find what philosophy revealed before him reliable, and set out with the idea of making a radical correction in philosophy according to the example of mathematical knowledge, finds the solid foundation he sought to put the new knowledge structure on in the proposition “I think, therefore I am”. It takes a long path of doubt to get here. However, the support he finds is so solid and clear that all kinds of existence (himself, God, his environment, other people), which his doubts had previously removed, regain reality and become reliable. The concept of God is like a lever in the work of reconstructing reality with all its aspects: When we look at consciousness, we see that the concept of God is present here, says Descartes.
Since we call God the most real being, God is incompatible with non-existence; It would be a contradiction to think that he is gone. Since God is also the most perfect being, he does not deceive me, so we can believe that the world of bodies exists and that our memory does not deceive us.
He calls the thoughts that we find ready in our consciousness, such as the concept of God, “innate thoughts”. They are clear and distinct, so their informational value is high. On the other hand, thoughts that come to our consciousness from outside or created by our imagination are blurred and confused; their information value is also low.
In the discussion initiated by Descartes’ philosophy on method and knowledge, Pascal (1623-1662) and Bayle (1647-1706) stated that the method proposed by Descartes as universal could not illuminate every issue, “What is God? What is the meaning of human life?” They asserted that the answers to such important questions can only be found with a light of the heart.
According to Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who was less influenced by Descartes and defended a consistent correctness, the source of all kinds of knowledge is experimentation; And the purpose of knowledge is man’s domination of his environment—nature and culture. The thing to do in philosophy is to connect events to “causes”, which are always real facts. All unsupported designs in the only real world of bodies are delusions; such as “freedom”, “immaterial spirit”. If we deal with things in the way of mathematics, we will be freed from such delusions; then emotions don’t get involved. Descartes’ influence is clearly seen in this last understanding.
The real Spinoza (1632 – 1677) was very influenced by Descartes’ understanding of method. We can see this even at the beginning of the work: Spinoza takes a single knowledge, the knowledge of God, as the starting point in his teaching – like Descartes’ proposition “I think, therefore I am” – and – again like Descartes – all the rest of the information is derived from this basis with the geometric method, which is a deductive way. derives it: just as it derives the shapes of geometry from space.
Leibniz (1646-1716) can also be counted in the footsteps of Descartes in his understanding of method and knowledge—in terms of his main attitude. Because, according to him, the method of mathematics is the only reliable method in reaching the right information. As in mathematics, calculus with concepts in philosophy