Saturday, September 12, 2009

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the people during Boyle and Hobbes’s time. So we as society today would pretty much go along with Boyle’s definition of what “matters of fact” are, right? Boyle believes in experimentally developed matters of fact, and these matters of fact become the foundation for other developments. Hobbes leans another way and believes that matters of fact are results of logical reasoning--that there is an answer through thought. Yeah, I think I can safely say that the majority of reasonable people today would choose Boyle’s reasoning over Hobbes‘s. People find more confidence in hardcore evidence. The saying goes, “seeing is believing,” right? We say this artifact is older than this one because it was buried deeper down in the earth, and we even attach a fancy carbon date on it. We don’t really say this artifact is older because it looks it. I think society has really depended on concrete evidence to study and find reason.

So if people were so confused back then and had a legitimate battle between these two ideas, maybe we should take some time to really dissect it. We may find it hard to believe but back then Hobbes’s way of thinking was the norm, right? Religion was incorporated into government and Hobbes’s philosophies supported it. He was the one to agree with back then. What has really changed that society gravitates toward Boyle’s methods now? Maybe what constitutes "matters of fact" is too hard to define. Referring to g.e. tang's post, maybe there should be a categorization for tangible and intangible matters of fact; thus, confusing Boyle's and Hobbe's argument again. I feel like I'm going in circles. Sorry guys! Comment away!


  1. "I think society has really depended on concrete evidence to study and find reason."

    I would think that exact thought (or something along those lines) is the basis for modern science. That's because humans have to find out more about their own selves and environment, and the best way to do that is to depend on analyzing concrete and solid materials that they have seen to develop new thoughts.

    However to comment, we have reached a point (especially in physics) where we can not see somethings, such as quarks (the sub-materials of atoms.) Even though we don't know if they really exist, we still connect features to it. It will be interesting to see humans revert to a more philosophical approach to knowledge after these ~500 years of science based primarily on physical evidence.

  2. I find it interesting to note that many scientific theories and observations are partially "proven" by experiment and partially explained with reasoning. I feel that ideally Hobbes and Boyle should have worked together to find explanations for phenomena but I keep questioning if this were possible. Some common denominator exists between the two where explanation is no longer possible by either. It just so happens that Hobbes may be able to explain further (through reason) than Boyle could.


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