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Mach, Ernst (1838-1916)

Austrian physicist and philosopher of science. As a radical empiricist, Mach argued in Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklung historish-kritisch dargestellt (The Science of Mechanics) (1883) that the aim of natural science is to describe human sensations without presuming anything about their external causes, developing hypothesis as convenient aids to prediction. As expanded in Beiträge zur Analyse der Empfindungen (Contributions to the Analysis of Sensations) (1886) and Erkenntnis und Irrtum: Skizzen zur Psychologie der Forschung (Knowledge and Error: Sketches on the Psychology of Enquiry) (1905), these views significantly influenced James, Russell, and the logical positivists.

Recommended Reading: Mach's Principle: From Newton's Bucket to Quantum Gravity, ed. by Julian B. Barbour and Herbert Pfister (Springer Verlag, 1995) and Ernst Mach: A Deeper Look, ed. by John Blackmore (Kluwer, 1992).

Also see SEP, WSB, EB, and Austria-Forum.

Machiavelli, Niccolo (1469-1527)

Italian politician and philosopher who offered practical suggestions for the successful use of power for the achievement of desirable political stability by the arbitrary ruler of any principality, without concern for abstract moral judgments.

For a discussion of his life and works, see Machiavelli.

MacKinnon, Catharine (1946- )

American feminist and political philosopher who shows that the pretense of justice and equality through 'objective' laws often disguises and supports social structures that institutionalize the systematic control of women by men.

For a discussion of her life and works, see MacKinnon.

McTaggart, John McTaggart Ellis (1866-1925)

British philosopher. In Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic (1896), Studies in the Hegelian Cosmology (1901), and Commentary on Hegel's Logic (1910) McTaggart criticized and modified Hegel's use of dialectical methods. McTaggart's own effort to unfold the consequences of the supposition that something exists in The Nature of Existence (1921, 1927) notoriously resulted in an extreme version of idealism, according to which space, time, and material objects have no genuine reality. Only individual minds, related to each other by love, are real in the most fundamental sense.

Recommended Reading: J. McT. Ellis McTaggart, Philosophical Studies, ed. by S. V. Keeling and Gerald Rochelle (St. Augustine, 1996); Gerald Rochelle, The Life and Philosophy of J. McT. E. McTaggart, 1866-1925 (Edwin Mellen, 1991); Gerald Rochelle, Behind Time: The Incoherence of Time and McTaggart's Atemporal Replacement (Ashgate, 1998); and C. D. Broad, Examination of McTaggart's Philosophy (Thoemmes, 2000).

Also see SEP.

magnanimity {Gk. μεγαλοψυχι&alpha [megalopsychía]}

Greatness of soul; one of Aristotle's most important virtues.

Maimonides, Moses (Moses ben Maimon or "Rambam") (1135-1204)

Jewish philosopher and theologian whose Sefer ha-Mizvot (Book of Commandments) codified Talmudic law. In Moreh Nevukhim (Guide to the Perplexed) (1190), Maimonides offered for the benefit of the intellectually elite an effective synthesis of medieval Judaism with the philosophy of Aristotle. On this view, reason is the primary source for human knowledge, but it remains acceptable to rely upon faith in cases beyond the reach of rationality. Maimonides's opposition to the neoplatonism of al-Farabi and Ibn Sina was a significant influence on the work of Aquinas and Spinoza.

Recommended Reading: Ethical Writings of Maimonides, ed. by Charles E. Butterworth (Dover, 1983); Maimonides Reader, ed. by Isadore Twersky (Behrman House, 1989); Jose Faur, Homo Mysticus: A Guide to Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed (Syracuse, 1999); Marvin Fox, Interpreting Maimonides: Studies in Methodology, Metaphysics, and Moral Philosophy (Chicago, 1995); Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason (SUNY, 1995); and Maimonides: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. by Joseph A. Buijs (Notre Dame, 1990).

Also see SEP, CE, Aharun Shear-Yashuv, EB, and ELC.

major premise

In a categorical syllogism, the premise whose terms are the syllogism's major term and middle term.

major term

The predicate term of the conclusion of a categorical syllogism.

Malebranche, Nicolas (1638-1715)

French priest and philosopher. As a leading Cartesian, Malebranche argued in De la Recherche de la Vérité (The Search after Truth) (1675) and Entretiens sur la métaphysique et sur la religion (Dialogues on Metaphysics and on Religion) (1688) that our ideas provide no direct, certain knowledge of bodies, but that instead we "see all things in god." This divinely ordained occasionalism provided for the apparent regularity of the natural world without appealing to any genuine causal interaction among things. Malebranche's explanation of the imperfection of a divinely-created universe in the Traité de la nature et de la grace (Treatise on Nature and Grace) (1680) and other theological writings influenced the theodicy of Leibniz.

Recommended Reading: Nicolas Malebranche, Oeuvres Completes (French & European, 1978); Patricia Easton, Thomas M. Lennon, and Gregor Sebba, Bibliographia Malebranchiana: A Critical Guide to the Malebranche Literature into 1989 (Southern Illinois, 1992); Nicholas Jolley, The Light of the Soul: Theories of Ideas in Leibniz, Malebranche, and Descartes (Clarendon, 1998); and The Cambridge Companion to Malebranche, ed. by Steven M. Nadler (Cambridge, 2000).

Also see SEP on Malebranche and ideas in God, IEP, EB, CE, Miran Bozevic, ELC, and MMT.

Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766-1834)

English economist. In his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) Malthus pointed out that since human populations tend to grow more rapidly than their supply of food, they are eventually reduced by war, disease, and famine. In opposition to the optimism of social reformers like Godwin, Malthus urged the prohibition or postponement of marriage as a responsible social policy in Principles of Political Economy (1820).

Recommended Reading: William Petersen, Malthus: Founder of Modern Demography (Transaction, 1998); Thomas Robert Malthus: Critical Assessments, ed. by John Cunningham Wood (Routledge, 1986); Malthus: Critical Responses, ed. by Geoffrey Gilbert (Routledge, 1997); and Beyond Malthus: Nineteen Dimensions of the Population Challenge, ed. by Lester R. Brown, Gary Gardner, and Brian Halweil (Norton, 1999).

Also see EB and WSB.

Mandelbrot, Benoit (1924- )

Polish-American mathematician. Mandelbrot's The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982) made significant contributions to the study of fractal geometry as a method of understanding the scale-symmetries of natural objects and artifacts.

Recommended Reading: Fractal Geometry and Analysis, ed. by C. J. G. Evertsz, H.-O. Peitgen, and R. F. Voss (World Scientific, 1996) and Complex Dynamical Systems: The Mathematics Behind the Mandelbrot and Julia Sets, ed. by Robert L. Devaney (Am. Math. Soc., 1995).

Also see EB and MMT.

Mandeville, Bernard (1670-1733)

Dutch physician and philosopher. Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees; or, Private Vices, Public Benefits (1723) offered an account of human society as a purely conventional construction, governed by economic and moral principles serving only to secure the rational self-interest of its individual citizens. The only motive for altruistic conduct, Mandeville supposed, is the condescending self-satisfaction an agent feels when proudly acting for the benefit of others.

Recommended Reading: Maurice M. Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits: Bernard Mandeville's Social and Political Thought (Cambridge, 1985); Jack Malcolm, The Social and Political Thought of Bernard Mandeville (Garland, 1991); and Paradox and Society: The Work of Bernard Mandeville, ed. by Louis Schneider and Jay Weinstein (Transaction, 1986).

Also see EB.


Persian religion. Followers of Manes (216-277) adhered to a radical dualism between good and evil, or spirit and body, and recommended an ascetic way of life. Augustine, who had been a Manichaean before his conversion to Christianity, later wrote an extended refutation of this heretical doctrine.

Recommended Reading: Augustine and Manichaeism in the Latin West, ed. by Johannes Van Oort, Otto Wermelinger, and Gregor Wurst (Brill, 2001); Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaen Sources, ed. by Paul Allan Mirecki and Jason Beduhn (Brill, 1997); and Jason David Beduhn, The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and Ritual (Johns Hopkins, 2000).

Also see EB.


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