Ideas from 'The Origin of Forms and Qualities' by Robert Boyle [1666], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Selected Philosophical Papers' by Boyle,Robert (ed/tr Steward,M.A.) [Hackett 1991,0-87220-122-8]].

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2. Reason / D. Definition / 4. Real Definition
Essential definitions show the differences that discriminate things, and make them what they are
                        Full Idea: Essential definitions are such as are taken from the essential differences of things, which constitute them in such a sort of natural bodies, and discriminate them from all those of any other sort.
                        From: Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666], p.41?), quoted by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles
                        A reaction: I don't think this goes as far as the aim Aristotle had in definitions, which was more than merely to 'discriminate' each thing. A full definition explains the thing as well.
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 1. Powers
Boyle attacked a contemporary belief that powers were occult things
                        Full Idea: Boyle attacks an idea of powers, held by some modern schoolmen and chemists, that makes powers occult.
                        From: report of Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666]) by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles 03.3
                        A reaction: [This involves Boyle's famous example of a key having the power to turn a lock] On p.86 Alexander says the 'occult' belief is in affinities, antipathies, attractions and repulsions. How did Boyle explain magnetism?
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 6. Dispositions / a. Dispositions
In the 17th century, 'disposition' usually just means the spatial arrangement of parts
                        Full Idea: In Locke and Boyle, 'disposition' and its various cognates are standardly used to refer to the corpuscular structure of a body - the spatial arrangement of its parts - without reflecting any commitment to a dispositional property.
                        From: report of Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666]) by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 23.2
                        A reaction: Here as a warning against enthusiasts for dispositional properties misreadigmg 17th century texts to their supposed advantage. Pasnau says none of them believe in dispositional properties or real powers.
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 2. Hylomorphism / a. Hylomorphism
Form is not a separate substance, but just the manner, modification or 'stamp' of matter
                        Full Idea: I understand the word 'form' to mean, not a real substance distinct from matter, but only the matter itself of a natural body, with its peculiar manner of existence [corpuscular structure], which may be called its 'essential modification' or 'stamp'.
                        From: Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666], p.324), quoted by Jan-Erik Jones - Real Essence 3
                        A reaction: I don't think Aristotle ever thought that a form was separate from its matter, let alone qualifying as a substance. On the whole, Boyle attacks scholastic philosophy, rather than Aristotle.
To cite a substantial form tells us what produced the effect, but not how it did it
                        Full Idea: If it be demanded why rhubarb purges choler, snow dazzles the eyes rather than grass etc., that these effects are performed by substantial forms of the respective bodies is at best but to tell me what is the agent, not how the effect is wrought.
                        From: Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666], p.47?), quoted by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles 01.2
                        A reaction: This is the problem of the 'virtus dormitiva' of opium (which at least tells you it was the opium what done it). I take Aristotle to have aspired to a lot more than this. He wanted a full definition, which would contain lots of information about the form.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / d. Secondary qualities
Boyle's secondary qualities are not illusory, or 'in the mind'
                        Full Idea: There is no suggestion in Boyle that secondary qualities are, unlike primary qualities, somehow illusory, subjective or 'in the mind'.
                        From: report of Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666]) by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles 03.3
                        A reaction: [Alexander goes on to say that his also applied to Locke]
Boyle's term 'texture' is not something you feel, but is unobservable structures of particles
                        Full Idea: Perhaps Boyle's most important technical terms is 'texture'. ...It must not be confused with the way we feel the texture of a surface like sandpaper or velvet; it is rather a structure of unobservable particles and so it is not directly observable.
                        From: report of Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666]) by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles 03.2
                        A reaction: This is the basis for Alexander's reassessment of what Boyle and Locke meant by a 'secondary quality', which, he says, is a physical feature of objects, not a mental experience.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / i. Explanations by mechanism
Explanation is deducing a phenomenon from some nature better known to us
                        Full Idea: Explicating a phenomenon is to deduce it from something else in nature more known to us than the thing to be explained by it.
                        From: Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666], p.46?), quoted by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles
                        A reaction: Interesting that the word 'deduce' is here, beloved of the 'covering law' view. But this may be deduced from the behaviour of other substances, as the iron filing behaviour may be explained by the magnet itself (or perhaps 'laws' of magnetism).
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / g. Atomism
The corpuscles just have shape, size and motion, which explains things without 'sympathies' or 'forces'
                        Full Idea: In Boyle's corpuscular philosophy, all material substances are composed of minute particles or corpuscles, with ordinary properties such as shape, size and motion. There was no need for occult relations between them, such as sympathies, or even forces.
                        From: report of Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666]) by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles 01.1
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 7. Later Matter Theories / b. Corpuscles
The corpuscular theory allows motion, but does not include forces between the particles
                        Full Idea: Though there is motion, the corpuscles will not be dynamic because the idea of forces between the particles or groups of them does not figure in the theory.
                        From: report of Robert Boyle (The Origin of Forms and Qualities [1666]) by Peter Alexander - Ideas, Qualities and Corpuscles 5.2
                        A reaction: This is the view of Locke, as well as of Boyle. I quote this because I take to it be a particular target of Leibniz's disagreement.