Showdown: Criticism of the Early Royal Society in the 17th century

Monika Špeldová

Abstract


The aim of the study is to discuss the criticism of experimental science in England during the 1660’s and 1670’s. The text focuses on objections raised in the works of Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) and Henry Stubbe (1632-1676) against the new philosophy and science of the Royal Society of London. Although these authors criticized institutionalized experimental science from different points of view, they agreed on one point: Cavendish and Stubbe emphasized value, quality and relevance of ancient knowledge in comparison with the results of the research gained by representatives of the Royal Society. The objections to the Royal Society are presented in three thematic groups: epistemological, historical and religious-political. The aim of this study is to show that despite the prestige which the empirical science enjoys today, the new natural philosophy was not accepted immediately and enthusiastically during the 17th century. Finally, the study also suggests that the views of critics, who nowadays can be perceived as bizarre, or even retrograde, made sense at that time.


Keywords


the Royal Society; Margaret Cavendish; Henry Stubbe; early modern period; natural philosophy; experimental philosophy of the 17th century

https://doi.org/10.5817/pf15a-2-1190

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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097