Dan Garber is a Philosophy professor at Princeton University. He is interested in the relations between philosophy, science, and society in the period of the Scientific Revolution. Garber is also the author of Descartes' Metaphysical Physics (1992), Descartes Embodied (2001), and Leibniz: Body, Substance, Monad (2009). Garber is also the co-editor with Donald Rutherford of the Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, an annual. The seventeenth century is supposed to be the century in which modern science emerged, in which our view of the world was supposed to have taken a decisive turn away from the obsession with past accomplishments, and toward original contributions, not burdened by the past, a philosophical and scientific revolution. In my talk, I would like to suggest that things are a bit more complicated than they seem. For the new natural philosophers of the seventeenth century, I will suggest, the new and the old, the ancient and the modern are not as distant from one another as they are for us. Paradoxically enough, for them, it was possible to be doing something new precisely by doing something old.
Originally published at reilly.nd.edu.