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Varenius And The World Of Learning In The Dutch Republic

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Chapter Summary

In 1645, Bernhard Varenius arrived in the Netherlands that was powerful, wealthy, and self-confident, and where scholarship was flourishing. Varenius wanted to distance himself from practical work. He wanted to be a scholar. But what can we say of the kind of scholarship he practiced? We know little about his mathematical abilities. When applying for the post at the Amsterdam Athenaeum, he wrote a work on conics in order to demonstrate his competence. The work was never published and the manuscript has not survived. With hindsight, it is easy to appreciate the empiricist and scientific approach Varenius applied in Geographia Generalis. But to his contemporaries, the work must have appeared rather old-fashioned. As the kind of scholarship that Varenius practiced became overtaken by the fashion of the new mechanical philosophy, he must have felt that the love of learning had gone astray in Amsterdam.

Keywords:Amsterdam Athenaeum; Bernhard Varenius; Dutch Republic; higher learning; mathematics; scholarly career



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