UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Robert Boyle on the laws of nature Hodding, Bruce Alan


This thesis is an extensive investigation of the use and the concept of the laws of nature in the works of Robert Boyle. Care has been taken to place Boyle's use in both the general linguistic context of his age and the context of each specific text. The thesis finds two uses of the laws of nature in Boyle's works, the prescriptive and descriptive, and traces these to two different historical origins. It also traces Boyle's concept of the laws of nature to two different medieval doctrines, voluntarism and concurrentism. This thesis both challenges the received view of the origins of the laws of nature in the seventeenth century and argues that there is more continuity between the discourse of the late middle ages and the early modern period than is sometimes thought. That is, in developing his concept of the laws of nature, Boyle translates the scholastic discourse of voluntarism and concurrentism into the mechanical philosophy.

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