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Author Brunstetter, Daniel Reed
Title The conquest of paradigms: The discovery of the New World and the rise of modernity
book jacket
Descript 302 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 67-02, Section: A, page: 0700
Adviser: John T. Scott
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of California, Davis, 2005
The European arrival in the New World in the late fifteenth century led to one of history's most remarkable encounters that crystallized dramatic changes in the philosophical perception of human nature. For Europeans, the shock of the unforeseeable appearance of this previously unknown continent provided no precedent for understanding the "other" of this alien world. As a consequence, the beginning of the sixteenth century saw a period of deep reflection on the nature of humanity as Europeans grappled with the strangeness of the Indians. Given that the integration of the New World into the European intellectual cosmos was a catalyst for philosophical reflection, the question is thus raised: what effects did the Discovery have on the evolution of political philosophy? The answer to this question is found in looking at the theme of human nature. The historical period surrounding this juncture of worlds is marked by a crossroads of ideas regarding human nature that marks the last breaths of Aristotelianism and the nascent seeds of modernity. I explore the theme of human nature by examining four thinkers whose attempts at understanding the nature of the Indians span the gauntlet of philosophy in the age of the discovery: Sepulveda, Vitoria, Las Casas, and Montaigne. Their ideas demonstrate the (un)willingness of Europeans to innovate on the authoritative Aristotelian paradigm by arguing for the equality of the Indians when confronted with the problem of how to understand those whose barbaric customs suggested they were closer to natural slaves than human beings. I demonstrate how the argument for natural slavery put forth by Sepulveda reveals a latent tension between the Aristotelian vision of human nature which implied a hierarchy of natural inequality among men and the fundamental principles of the good as defined by scholasticism. Examination of the ideas espoused by Vitoria, Las Casas, and Montaigne illustrates a paradigm shift away from the Aristotelian view focusing on the teleological view of man and the political association towards one that stressing the modern notion of equality and individual rights and redefines the idea of the good
School code: 0029
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 67-02A
Subject Political Science, General
Alt Author University of California, Davis
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