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The Enlightenment of Cadwallader ColdenEmpire, Science, and Intellectual Culture in British New York$
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John M. Dixon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448034

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448034.001.0001

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Philosophical Actions

Philosophical Actions

(p.103) Chapter 6 Philosophical Actions
The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden

John M. Dixon

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Cadwallader Colden's colonial philosophy and how it served to integrate European and American scientific thought. The Anglo-Irish philosopher, Bishop George Berkeley, questioned the intellectual credibility of new scientific knowledge. He rejected calculus on the basis that it invoked confusing and philosophically unsustainable terms and claimed that matter was imperceptible and therefore unknowable. These arguments were rejected by Colden, insisting that they threatened the eighteenth century's historic opportunity to create an enlightened age of useful knowledge. This chapter discusses Colden's efforts to defeat Berkleyan philosophy by writing an essay on fluxions in 1743 and introducing a theory of active matter that was published in 1746. It also considers how Colden became embroiled in religious as well as philosophical controversy in his attempt to answer Berkeley. Finally, it explores how Colden combined his investigations into natural philosophy with a revived interest in medicine and physiology during the 1740s.

Keywords:   fluxions, Cadwallader Colden, George Berkeley, scientific knowledge, active matter, natural philosophy, medicine, physiology

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