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The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of SensibilityScience and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760$
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Stephen Gaukroger

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199594931

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594931.001.0001

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The Realm of Sensibility

The Realm of Sensibility

(p.387) 11 The Realm of Sensibility
The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility

Stephen Gaukroger (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The mid‐eighteenth century rethinking of the aims of natural philosophy was one in which the central role accorded to rationality in the first half of the century now comes to be translated into terms of sensibility. The task was seen as not just one of understanding the natural world but also that of understanding our place in that natural world, and the move to sensibility brings with it a new degree of success in this enterprise. Sensibility allows connections to be made between natural‐philosophical and moral, political, and psychological theories in a new way, shaping a new field of the ‘moral sciences’. The chapter examines the rise of a concern with sensibility in the Republic of Letters, the development of notions of sensibility and irritability in physiology, and the emergence of philosophical discussion of moral sensibility and the unity of sensibility.

Keywords:   sensibility, moral sciences, Republic of Letters, nervous sensibility, muscular irritability, moral sensibility, unity of sensibility

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