All there is to Know: Petrus van Musschenbroek's (1692-1761) Advice to his Students

Pieter Present

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In this article, I discuss a manuscript written by the Dutch natural philosopher and professor Petrus van Musschenbroek (1692-1761), entitled ‘Advice on how the study of philosophy should be directed, read in the year 1730’ (‘Consilia de dirigendo Studio Philosophico. praelecta A° 1730’). I show how the text should be situated in the genre of rationes studii. I analyse the organisation of the manuscript, with special attention for the outline and order of the disciplines discussed by van Musschenbroek. I argue that Christian Wolff (1679-1754) is an important influence here. Next, I present van Musschenbroek’s views on the propaedeutic role of the liberal arts and mathematics. Finally, I discuss van Musschenbroek’s choice of authors (specifically in the sections dealing with physics) in relation to contemporary views on ‘sects’ in philosophy and eclecticism. This will allow me to provide a more nuanced view on van Musschenbroek’s ‘Newtonianism’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-92
JournalLias : Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture and Its Sources
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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