The Natural Philosopher and the Virtues

Date of this Version

January 2006

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Harrison, Peter (2006) The Natural Philosopher and the Virtues is a chapter in The Philosopher in Early Modern Europe: The Nature of a Contested Identity, Condren, Conal, Gaukroger, Stephen and Hunter, Ian (eds), Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006, Chapter 9, pp. 202-229.
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2006 HERDC submission


Natural philosophers, engaged as they were in a branch of philosophy, were expected to conform to the traditional models of the philosophical persona, in which the moral characteristics of the individual were the pledge of the truth of what they knew. That said, the beginnings of a shift of focus from persons to methods was already in train in the seventeenth century. In this chapter I shall suggest that this development owed much to Renaissance and Reformation criticisms of the traditional ideal of the contemplative life and the Aristotelian notions of virtue.

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