Ideas and Mechanism

Ideas and Mechanism : Essays on Early Modern Philosophy

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For more than three decades, Margaret Wilson's essays on early modern philosophy have influenced scholarly debate. Many are considered classics in the field and remain as important today as they were when they were first published. Until now, however, they have never been available in book form and some have been particularly difficult to find. This collection not only provides access to nearly all of Wilson's most significant work, but also demonstrates the continuity of her thought over time. These essays show that Wilson possesses a keen intelligence, coupled with a fearlessness in tackling the work of early modern philosophers as well as the writing of modern commentators. Many of the pieces collected here respond to philosophical issues of continuing importance. The thirty-one essays gathered here deal with some of the best known early philosophers, including Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Spinoza, and Berkeley. As this collection shows, Wilson is a demanding critic. She repeatedly asks whether the philosophers' arguments were adequate to the problems they were trying to solve and whether these arguments remain compelling today.
She is not afraid to engage in complex argument but, at the same time, her own writing remains clear and fresh. Ideas and Mechanism is an essential collection of work by one of the leading scholars of our era. Originally published in 1999. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 546 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 27.94mm | 482g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 0691606307
  • 9780691606309
  • 1,100,053

Back cover copy

"The work of Margaret Wilson, widely regarded for several decades as the foremost scholar of early modern philosophy, has shaped the field and raised its standards. Her papers are more than required reading; they provoked--and continue to provoke--serious and active engagement. Bringing together the substance of Wilson's scholarly achievement, this is an extremely significant collection."--John Carriero, University of California, Los Angeles

"Margaret Wilson was the leading historian of early modern philosophy in the English-speaking world. Her work is distinguished by fierce intelligence, a fine ear for textual nuance, a passion for clarity, and close critical attention to the work of others. This rich collection of important papers will be studied eagerly by a wide audience."--Kenneth Winkler, Wellesley College
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Table of contents

PrefaceEditions and AbbreviationsCh. 1Skepticism without Indubitability3Ch. 2Descartes on Sense and "Resemblance"10Ch. 3Descartes on the Perception of Primary Qualities26Ch. 4Descartes on the Origin of Sensation41Ch. 5Descartes on the Representationality of Sensation69Ch. 6Descartes: The Epistemological Argument for Mind-Body Distinctness84Ch. 7True and Immutable Natures94Ch. 8Can I Be the Cause of My Idea of the World? (Descartes on the Infinite and Indefinite)108Ch. 9Objects, Ideas, and "Minds": Comments on Spinoza's Theory of Mind126Ch. 10Spinoza's Causal Axiom (Ethics I, Axiom 4)141Ch. 11Infinite Understanding, Scientia Intuitiva, and Ethics I.16166Ch. 12"For They Do Not Agree in Nature with Us": Spinoza on the Lower Animals178Ch. 13Superadded Properties: The Limits of Mechanism in Locke196Ch. 14Discussion: Superadded Properties: A Reply to M. R. Ayers209Ch. 15Did Berkeley Completely Misunderstand the Basis of the Primary-Secondary Quality Distinction in Locke?215Ch. 16Berkeley on the Mind-Dependence of Colors229Ch. 17Berkeley and the Essence of the Corpuscularians243Ch. 18The Issue of "Common Sensibles" in Berkeley's New Theory of Vision257Ch. 19Kant and "The Dogmatic Idealism of Berkeley"276Ch. 20The "Phenomenalisms" of Berkeley and Kant294Ch. 21The "Phenomenalisms" of Leibniz and Berkeley306Ch. 22Confused Ideas322Ch. 23Confused vs. Distinct Perception in Leibniz: Consciousness, Representation, and God's Mind336Ch. 24Leibniz and Locke on "First Truths"353Ch. 25Leibniz: Self-Consciousness and Immortality in the Paris Notes and After373Ch. 26Leibniz and Materialsm388Ch. 27Possible Gods407Ch. 28Leibniz's Dynamics and Contingency in Nature421Ch. 29Compossibility and Law442Ch. 30History of Philosophy in Philosophy Today; and the Case of the Sensible Qualities455Ch. 31Animal Ideas495Sources and Acknowledgments513Index515
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Review quote

"The essays in this collection are of a high scholarly quality and are a good representation of the development and directions of Wilson's work."--Library Journal
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