The difference between science and philosophy: the Spinoza-Boyle controversy revisited

Paragraph 29 (2):115-138 (2006)
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Abstract
This article examines the seventeenth-century debate between the Dutch philosopher Benedict de Spinoza and the British scientist Robert Boyle, with a view to explicating what the twentieth-century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze considers to be the difference between science and philosophy. The two main themes that are usually drawn from the correspondence of Boyle and Spinoza, and used to polarize the exchange, are the different views on scientific methodology and on the nature of matter that are attributed to each correspondent. Commentators have tended to focus on one or the other of these themes in order to champion either Boyle or Spinoza in their assessment of the exchange. This paper draws upon the resources made available by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in their major work What is Philosophy?, in order to offer a more balanced account of the exchange, which in its turn contributes to our understanding of Deleuze and Guattariā€™s conception of the difference between science and philosophy.
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