Descartes and the last Scholastics: objections and replies -- Descartes and the Scotists -- Ideas, before and after Descartes -- The Cartesian destiny of form and matter -- Descartes, Basso, and Toletus: three kinds of Corpuscularians -- Scholastics and the new astronomy on the substance of the heavens -- Descartes and the Jesuits of La Fleche: the Eucharist -- Condemnations of Cartesianism: the extension and unity of the universe -- Cartesians, Gassendists, and censorship -- The cogito in the seventeenth century.
Descartes' image of the tree of knowledge from the preface to the French edition of the Principles of Philosophy is usually taken to represent Descartes' break with the past and with the fragmentation of knowledge of the schools. But if Descartes' tree of knowledge is analyzed in its proper context, another interpretation emerges. A series of contrasts with other classifications of knowledge from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries raises some puzzles: claims of originality and radical break from the past do (...) not seem warranted. Further contrasts with Descartes' unpublished writings and with school doctrines lead to the ironic conclusion that, in the famous passage, Descartes is attempting to appeal to conventional wisdom and trying to avoid sounding novel. (shrink)
Roger Ariew presents a new account of Descartes as a philosopher who sought to engage his contemporaries and society. He argues that the Principles of Philosophy was written to rival Scholastic textbooks, and considers Descartes' enterprise in contrast to the tradition it was designed to replace and in relation to the works of the first Cartesians.
No single text could be considered more important in the history of philosophy than Descartes' Meditations. This unique collection of background material to this magisterial philosophical text has been translated from the original French and Latin. The texts gathered here illustrate the kinds of principles, assumptions, and philosophical methods that were commonplace when Descartes was growing up. The selections are from: Francisco Sanches, Christopher Clavius, Pierre de la Ramee, Francisco Suárez, Pierre Charron, Eustachius a Sancto Paulo, Scipion Dupleix, Marin Mersenne, (...) Pierre Gassendi, Jean de Silhon, François de la Mothe le Vayer, Charles Sorel, and Jean-Baptiste Morin. (shrink)
There is a popular view that Descartes and Pascal were antagonists. I argue instead that Pascal was a Cartesian, in the manner of other Cartesians in the seventeenth century. That does not, of course, mean that Pascal accepted everything Descartes asserted, given that there were Cartesian atomists, for example, when Descartes was a plenist and anti-atomist. Pascal himself was a vacuuist and thus in opposition to Descartes in that respect, but he did accept some of the more distinctive and controversial (...) aspects of Cartesianism, including his mechanistic philosophy and the consequent view that animals are automata. (shrink)
Although Leibniz's writing forms an enormous corpus, no single work stands as a canonical expression of his whole philosophy. In addition, the wide range of Leibniz's work--letters, published papers, and fragments on a variety of philosophical, religious, mathematical, and scientific questions over a fifty-year period--heightens the challenge of preparing an edition of his writings in English translation from the French and Latin.
I discuss some of Leibniz's pronouncements about fringe phenomena__various monsters; talking dogs; genies and prophets; unicorns, glossopetrae, and other games of nature__in order to understand better Leibniz's views on science and the role these curiosities play in his plans for scientific academies and societies. However, given that Leibniz's sincerity has been called into question in twentieth-century secondary literature, I begin with a few historiographical remarks so as to situate these pronouncements within the Leibnizian corpus. What emerges is an image of (...) Leibniz as a sober, cautious interpreter, a skeptic one might say, but one who is prepared to concede the possibility of many strange phenomena. Leibniz expects these fringe phenomena to take their place among the natural curiosities catalogued as part of a hoped for empirical database intended as means toward the perfection of the sciences. (shrink)
This is a dictionary of Descartes and Cartesian philosophy, primarily covering philosophy in the 17th century, with a chronology and biography of Descartes's life and times and a bibliography of primary and secondary works related to Descartes and to Cartesians.
It would seem that there are enormous differences between strict hylomorphism and Cartesianism on form and matter: for a strict hylomorphist, matter and form cannot be separated, but for a Cartesian, matter and form are really distinct ; for a strict hylomorphist, form is the principle of being and matter the principle of individuation, but for a Cartesian, the mind-a form-is the principle of individuation for persons, if anything is. However, these breaks are not as severe as might have been (...) thought, if seventeenth century scholastics are taken into account. For a variety of reasons, the late Aristotelians broke with Aristotle and accepted the reality of matter without form, form without matter, and form as the principle of individuation. In addition, the intellectual landscape of seventeenth century philosophy was not limited to the properly scholastic ; there were anti-Aristotelian options available before Descartes. Given that the gulf between the schoolmen and novatores like Descartes was not so great, the way was open for certain compromises. These were sought in a variety of scholastic restatements of Cartesianism from more or less Cartesian positions. Thus, it can be said that some varieties of Aristotelianism in the seventeenth century prepared the ground for the acceptance of Cartesianism and the eventual attempts at their reunification. (shrink)
For this new edition, Roger Ariew has adapted Samuel Clarke's edition of 1717, modernizing it to reflect contemporary English usage. Ariew's introduction places the correspondence in historical context and discusses the vibrant philosophical climate of the times. Appendices provide those selections from the works of Newton that Clarke frequently refers to in the correspondence. A bibliography is also included.
Before publishing his landmark _Meditations_ in 1641, Rene Descartes sent his manuscript to many leading thinkers to solicit their objections to his arguments. He included these objections, along with his own detailed replies, as part of the first edition. This unusual strategy gave Descartes a chance to address criticisms in advance and to demonstrate his willingness to consider diverse viewpoints—critical in an age when radical ideas could result in condemnation by church and state, or even death. _Descartes and his Contemporaries_ (...) recreates the tumultuous intellectual community of seventeenth-century Europe and provides a detailed, modern analysis of the _Meditations_ in its historical context. The book's chapters examine the arguments and positions of each of the objectors—Hobbes, Gassendi, Arnauld, Morin, Caterus, Bourdin, and others whose views were compiled by Mersenne. They illuminate Descartes' relationships to the scholastics and particularly the Jesuits, to Mersenne's circle with its debates about the natural sciences, to the Epicurean movements of his day, and to the Augustinian tradition. Providing a glimpse of the interactions among leading 17th-century intellectuals as they grappled with major philosophical issues, this book sheds light on how Descartes' thought developed and was articulated in opposition to the ideas of his contemporaries. (shrink)
I am grateful that a set of fine scholars would be willing to reflect upon and write about Descartes and the First Cartesians. Their efforts are greatly appreciated and, on the whole, their observations are sound. It should be evident that I do not consider the work to be the final word on the subject of Descartes and Cartesians, that is, something exhaustive of it or complete for any of its topics. In fact, every time I reconsider an issue from (...) my book, I find that there is more to be said even in respect to what I wrote about in great detail. I will reply to the commentators in the following order: 1. Domenico Collacciani; 2. Lucian Petrescu; 3. Martine... (shrink)
Some philosophers of science suggest that philosophical assumptions must influence historical scholarship, because history (like science) has no neutral data and because the treatment of any particular historical episode is going to be influenced to some degree by one's prior philosophical conceptions of what is important in science. However, if the history of science must be laden with philosophical assumptions, then how can the history of science be evidence for the philosophy of science? Would not an inductivist history of science (...) confirm an inductivist philosophy of science and a conventionalist history of science confirm a conventionalist philosophy of science? I attempt to resolve this problem; essentially, I deny the claim that the history of science must be influenced by one's conception of what is important in science — one's general philosophy of science. To accomplish the task I look at a specific historical episode, together with its history, and draw some metamethodological conclusions from it. The specific historical episode I examine is Descartes' critique of Galileo's scientific methodology. (shrink)
We examine Duhem's critique of Maxwell, especially Duhem's complaints that Maxwell's theory is too bold or not systematic enough, that it is too dependent on models, and that its concepts are not continuous with those of the past. We argue that these complaints are connected by Duhem's historical criterion for the evaluation of physical theories. We briefly compare Duhem's criterion of historical continuity with similar criteria developed by "historicists" like Kuhn and Lakatos. We argue that Duhem's rejection of theoretical pluralism (...) was a primary factor preventing him from recognizing Maxwell's work as an autonomous tradition. (shrink)
This volume appears to be the product of much effort, the culmination of more than twenty years of study--though it could not have been "written before the collapse of the research program of the logical positivists," as the back cover proclaims. Schlagel's introduction is more precise: the volume adopts an anti-positivistic approach to understanding science precisely because of the failure of the research program of the positivists and the success of the historicists. In fact, in opposition to the positivists who (...) approach science as a completed system of laws, theories, and mathematical formalism, Schlagel conceives of science as an intellectual enterprise exhibiting a developmental, creative process. Schlagel believes that there is an emerging consensus, in this century, in the work of anthropologists, classicists, philologists, and historians of science about man's intellectual history. He argues that what is lacking is an interpretation of these products from the perspective of gradual cognitive development, that is, from the perspective of various anthropological conceptions of primitive mentality and psychological studies of different mental developments. Chapters I, II, and III provide the details for this original and challenging thesis of the volume. (shrink)
This essay explores the reception and used of Suárez’s philosophy by two canonical early modern philosophers, René Descartes and Gottfried Leibniz. It is argued that Descartes’ theory of distinctions does not betray any indications of being Suárezian, despite many claims to the contrary. Leibniz, however, was a very different reader of Suárez’s works, it is argued, and his thinking about individuation was clearly influenced by Suárez even if he did not adopt the Suárezian position in the end.