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Conjecture, Probabilism, And Provisional Knowledge In Renaissance Meteorology

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Chapter Summary

For Renaissance Aristotelian natural philosophers, ideally knowledge was certain and based on syllogistic demonstration. Many Italian scholars, such as Agostino Nifo, Pietro Pomponazzi, and Niccolò Cabeo, considered this ideal as inapplicable to the field of meteorology. The two dominating views of Renaissance Aristotelian epistemology or "scientific methodology" entail positions that are incompatible, if not contradictory. The distinction between theories of scientific knowledge and practice is necessary for historical understandings of Renaissance natural philosophy. While epistemological ideals played a role in the presentation of concepts and guided the direction of natural philosophy, they should not be mistaken for actual methods of research. Natural philosophers in the Aristotelian tradition realized that while scientia required syllogism, the probable arguments of dialectic were at times the only available solution for discussions of the natural world.

Keywords: Aristotelian tradition; meteorology; Renaissance Aristotelian epistemology; renaissance natural philosophy; scientific methodology



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