HPS Colloquium: Lutheran Orthodox Atomism? Theological Motivations for Radical Natural Philosophy


Location: 201 O'Shag

Join us as Tomás presents his recent research!  We meet every Tuesday before Fall Break at 4 PM for coffee, snacks, and a chance to catch up before the presentation begins.

“Lutheran Orthodox Atomism? Theological Motivations for Radical Natural Philosophy.”

Recent scholarship on early modern matter theory has revealed not only various strains of atomist and corpuscularian thought, but also a variety of purposes or ends to which these theories were put. In particular, David Gorlaeus (1591-1612) has received attention for his metaphysical and physical atomism, which he justified in the context of Calvinist-Arminian theological polemics. I'm looking at a similar case, but at the heart of Orthodox Lutheranism, typically seen as traditionalist and conservative--in contrast to the often-subversive Arminians. My presentation will examine Eilhard Lubin's (1564-1621) Phosphorus and the metaphysical, mathematical, and physical atomism he presents in that work. Comparing Lubin and Gorlaeus, I will explore how a similar theological motivation--the problem of interconfessional strife--led both to argue for an atomist natural philosophy, although they came up with quite different atomisms. I will also consider how our understanding both of early modern atomism and of Lutheran Orthodoxy might need to be adjusted in light of the possibility of a Lutheran Orthodox atomism.

Tomás Valle is a third-year PhD candidate in History. His dissertation research explores Lutheran scholarly networks and the transmission of unorthodox thought during the decades around 1600.