Descartes Our Contemporary [Book Review]

The European Legacy 4 (4):98-101 (1999)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this review of two books, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography, by Stephen Gaukroger, and Descartes and his Contemporaries: Meditations, Objections, and Replies, edited by Roger Ariew and Marjorie Grene, I consider arguments about the motivation of Descartes for writing the Meditations on First Philosophy. According to Gaukroger, Descartes wrote the Meditations simply to legitimate his natural philosophy, which he had already worked out, for an audience of theologians and Scholastic philosophers, whom he feared would condemn it (as Galileo had been condemned by the Inquisition in 1633). If Gaukroger is right, it would explain something that is not mentioned in the collection edited by Ariew and Grene, namely, that five of the seven sets of objections are from theologians, and that the strong objections made by philosophers Gassendi and Hobbes are given relatively short shrift, whereas, the weak objections made by the Jesuit theologian Pierre Bourdin are responded to at great length. Gaukroger, however, has an extremely implausible interpretation of Descartes's position on animals, according to which Descartes held that animals had thoughts and experiences, just not thoughts and experiences like ours, and hence, that he did not think of animals as machines (the "bete machine" hypothesis).



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,219

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Descartes: An Intellectual Biography.Stephen Gaukroger - 1995 - Oxford, GB: Clarendon Press.
Meditations, Objections, and Replies.René Descartes - 2006 - Hackett Publishing Company.
Unmasking Descartes’s Case for the Bête Machine Doctrine.Lex Newman - 2001 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):389-425.
Descartes’ Dog: a Clock with Passions?Abel B. Franco - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):101-130.
Two new Descartes.Roger Ariew - 1997 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 5 (1):165 – 173.
Who was that masked man?Daniel Garber - 1998 - British Journal for the History of Science 31 (1):55-62.
Meditations on first philosophy: with selections from the Objections and Replies.René Descartes - 1960 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by John Cottingham & Bernard Williams.
Descartes' System of Natural Philosophy.Stephen Gaukroger - 2002 - New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Descartes and the First Cartesians by Roger Ariew. [REVIEW]John Grey - 2016 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (1):167-168.
Descartes: an intellectual biography by Stephen Gaukroger.T. Sorell - 1996 - European Journal of Philosophy 4:107-110.


Added to PP

89 (#184,948)

6 months
7 (#350,235)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

James Mahon
Lehman College (CUNY)

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references