Sydney Workshop: The Fortunes of the Speculative Sciences in the Early Modern Period

The category of the Speculative Sciences has a long pedigree going all the way back to Aristotle. However, in the seventeenth century the status and classification of the speculative sciences underwent significant change. Natural philosophy, for example, moved from being a speculative science to an experimental or practical science. Furthermore, in some quarters there was increasing hostility to ‘speculative philosophy’ and a general devaluing of the epistemic status of the speculative sciences. This workshop will examine the causes and implications of such changes, the defenders of the speculative sciences, and the various reconfigurations of this category in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


  • 9.00–9.50
    James Franklin (UNSW)
    ‘Late scholastic successes in the speculative sciences’
  • 10.00–11.00
    Mordechai Feingold (Caltech)
    ‘Experimental philosophy in seventeenth-century England’
  • 11.10–12.00
    Paul Oslington (Alphacrucis)
    ‘Speculation about economic order in 18th century Britain’
  • 12.00–2.00
    Lunch in the Philosophy Common Room,
  • 2.00–2.50
    John Gascoigne (UNSW)
    ‘The teaching of natural philosophy and natural history in the dissenting academies of the late 17th and 18th centuries’
  • 3.00–3.50
    Peter Anstey (Sydney)
    ‘The role of principles in the speculative sciences’

This workshop is being run in conjunction with the visit to the Centre of Professor Mordechai Feingold from Caltech.
Friday 30 October 2015
Rogers Room,
Woolley Building A22
The University of Sydney
Click here for map

More information
For more information please contact Professor Peter Anstey

RSVP Click here to RSVP

Image: William Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, Plate I, 1753
original copper engravings on thick wove paper, 39 x 50 cm
University of Sydney Art Collection
Donated by Lynette Jensen in honour of the Philosophy Department, the University of Sydney 2015