Eric Schliesser


Ghent University

Spinoza and ‘Anti-Mathematics’

In this paper I define the concept ‘anti-mathematics’ and show how it illuminates a range of philosophical debates through the eighteenth century. By ‘anti-mathematics’ I mean to capture the expressed reservations about the authority and utility of the application of mathematics in the sciences. Such reservations can be found in major eighteenth-century thinkers, including: Berkeley, Hume, Buffon, Diderot, Toland, and Mandeville. My paper recognizes three kinds of strategies of anti-mathematics. I also argue that these reservations have shared, Spinozistic roots.

Toward a Meaningful HOPOS: Metaphysics, Rediscovered

Philosophy of Science (hereafter POS) and History of the Philosophy of Science (hereafter HOPOS), as an independent activity within philosophy, have a shared origin in eighteenth century reflection on and intervention in polemics between Newtonians and Spinozists.* It was thought that these polemics could be settled with properly worked out accounts of the nature of applied mathematics, study of the reach of evidential arguments, proper scientific method(s), etc. as exemplified in the very best sciences of the day.