David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Encyclopedia of the life sciences. Macmillan. 383-386 (2001)
Descartes was born in La Haye (now Descartes) in Touraine and educated at the Jesuit college of La Fleche` in Anjou. Descartes’modern reputation as a rationalistic armchair philosopher, whose mind–body dualism is the source of damaging divisions between psychology and the life sciences, is almost entirely undeserved. Some 90% of his surviving correspondence is on mathematics and scientiﬁc matters, from acoustics and hydrostatics to chemistry and the practical problems of constructing scientiﬁc instruments. Descartes was just as interested in the motions of matter as in the supernatural soul, and he advised against spending too much time on metaphysical inquiries which neglect imagination and the senses. After meeting the Dutch engineer Isaac Beeckman in 1618, Descartes became committed to a systematically ‘mechanical’account of nature. This involved explaining all natural processes in terms of interactions between microscopic material bodies in motion. Descartes modelled his physics and cosmology on the behaviour of ﬂuids, which also have a distinctive and central role in his physiology: the key processes for natural philosophical investigation are the circulation and mutual displacement of constrained bodies, rather than the isolated collisions of atoms in a void. Descartes settled in Holland in 1628, and commenced an ambitious programme of physiological research. In 1630 he was ‘studying chemistry and anatomy simultaneously’, and in late 1632 he was ‘dissecting the heads of various animals’, in order to ‘explain what imagination, memory, etc. consist in’. By late 1633 Descartes had almost completed L’homme, the Treatise on Man; but he abandoned plans to publish it along with a work on matter theory and optics which relied on Copernican cosmology, after he heard of the condemnation of Galileo. L’homme was published posthumously in 1662 (Latin) and 1664 (French); not until 1972 was it fully translated into English. L’homme draws on many (mostly unnamed) Renaissance medical writers, and covers, ﬁrstly, a range of traditional physiological topics, such as digestion and respiration..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Jeffrey McDonough (forthcoming). Descartes' Dioptrics and Descartes' Optics. In Nolan Larry (ed.), The Cambridge Descartes Lexicon. Cambridge.
Jeffrey K. McDonough (forthcoming). Descartes' "Dioptrics" and Descartes' Optics. In Larry Nolan (ed.), The Cambridge Descartes Lexicon. Cambridge.
René Descartes (1984). The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Cambridge University Press.
Richard Arthur (2007). Beeckman, Descartes and the Force of Motion. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):1--28.
Stephen Gaukroger (2002). Descartes' System of Natural Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
Markku Roinila (2004). Hyisen pohjolan viettelys: Rene Descartes (1596-1650). In Timo Kaitaro & Markku Roinila (eds.), Filosofin kuolema. Summa.
John Cottingham (ed.) (1998). Descartes. Oxford University Press.
Elisabeth (2007). The Correspondence Between Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and René Descartes. University of Chicago Press.
S. Gaukroger & J. Schuster (2002). The Hydrostatic Paradox and the Origins of Cartesian Dynamics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):535-572.
Paul Hoffman (2009). Essays on Descartes. Oxford University Press.
Added to index2010-12-22
Total downloads5 ( #255,653 of 1,410,004 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #176,758 of 1,410,004 )
How can I increase my downloads?