What is early modern philosophy? Two interpretative trends have predominated in the related literature. One, with roots in the work of Hegel and Heidegger, sees early modern thinking either as the outcome of a process of gradual rationalization (leading to the principle of sufficient reason, and to "ontology" as distinct from metaphysics), or as a reflection of an inherent subjectivity or representational semantics. The other sees it as reformulations of medieval versions of substance and cause, suggested by, or leading to, early modern scientific developments.This book proposes a rather different kind of explanation. It suggests that the concept of relation, specifically that of dyadic, anti-symmetrical relations, can throw light on a wide variety of developments in early modern thought, such as those concerning causality, sense perception, temporality, and the mereological approach to substance. The book argues that these relations are grounded in an interpretation of causal influence, and not in semantic theories or subjectivity.Furthermore, if it is correct that the problem of unity was, for most of classical antiquity, what the problems of motion, causality and perception were for early modern thinkers, then early modern thought is much closer to the thought of Aristotle than is commonly supposed. The genesis of early modern thought might instead be taken to have occurred in opposition to one aspect of the thought of Duns Scotus (an aspect that lives on in contemporary Neo-Aristotelianism), and that can be explained once the relational perspective examined here is taken into account.
Paul Taborsky studied in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, and presently teaches in the School of Advancement at Centennial College, Toronto. He is the author of The Logic of Cultures: Three Structures of Philosophical Thought (2010).