Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Fellow
2017 to 2018
Fellow in Residence
Being and the Good: Natural Teleology in Early Modern German Philosophy
My project examines the reception of the mechanical view of nature in the German Enlightenment in the backdrop of the continuing influence of late Scholastic metaphysics. This research reveals doctrinal continuities between seventeenth century Lutheran Scholastics such as Christoph Scheibler and Johann Clauberg and eighteenth century proponents of mechanistic science such as Christian Wolff and Immanuel Kant as they attempt to reconcile the success of the new physics with traditional conceptions of order and design in nature. Pressure from the new mathematical physics leads authors in this tradition to reconfigure rather than abandon the Aristotelian model of causal explanation. By Kant’s time, for example, teleological explanation shifts from a concern with how the end state of a process explains its occurrence, to how a whole determines its parts. Mediating such shifts is the preservation in early modern Germany of two Scholastic theses bearing on natural teleology: the first is the “convertibility thesis”, which denies a sharp distinction between being and the good, facts and values; the second holds that explanations involving ends or purposes presuppose rational agency.