Chapter

The Realm of Sensibility

Stephen Gaukroger

in The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594931
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595745 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594931.003.0012
The Realm of Sensibility

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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

Chapter.  17902 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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