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Isaac Beeckman

Isaac Beeckman

Middelburg 1588 - Dordrecht 1637

Physicist, philosopher and physician. He studied literature and philosophy in Leiden and obtained his doctorate at Caen (1618). In 1627, he was appointed dean of the new Latin school of Dordrecht. He befriended Descartes, and the two enjoyed a long-lasting intellectual companionship.  A follower of Copernicus in cosmology, Beeckman shared Harvey’s position about the circulation of blood, and he developed an atomistic theory of physics. From 1613, his studies of dynamics allowed him to recognize the principle of inertia, and the identical speed of falling objects in a void. He corresponded with Cardano and Mersenne. He was among those, like Stevin and the Snelliuses, who endorsed the doctrines of Brahe and Kepler, Francis Bacon and William Gilbert.

Main works: C. de Waard, Journal tenu par Isaac Beeckman de 1604 à 1634, 4 vol., The Hague 1939-1953.

Bibliography: E. Canone, Il Catalogus librorum di Isaac Beeckmann, «Nouvelles de la République des Lettres», 1991, 1, pp. 131-159; K. van Berkel, Isaac Beeckman (1588-1637) en de mechanisering van het wereldbeeld, Amsterdam, Rodopi 1983; B. Gemelli, Isaac Beeckman. Atomista e lettore critico di Lucrezio, Firenze, Olschki 2002; W.R. Shea, La magia dei numeri e del moto. René Descartes e la scienza del Seicento, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri 1994.

Online resources: Eugenio Canone, Il Catalogus librorum di Isaac Beeckmann, «Nouvelles de la République des Lettres», 1991 - I, pp. 131-138.

Catalogus variorum & insignium Librorum clarissimi doctissimique viri D. Isaaci Beeckmanni praestantissimi medici, philosophi, atque mathematici autissimi, Schelae Durdracaenae Rectoris vigilantissimi. Quorum Auctio habebitur in aedibus defuncti ad diem 14 Iulij MDCXXXVII.

Biblioteca Angelica, Roma.

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