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.
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 Further contrasts with Descartes' unpublished writings and with school doctrines lead to the ironic conclusion that, in the famous passage, Descartes is attempting to appeal to conventional wisdom and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)
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 argue that Descartes and the Cartesians are likely in agreement that logic is an ars cogitandi whose aim is to perfect the ingenium by the exercise of its operations: ideating, judging, discoursing, and ordering. We can see that these elements are the underpinning of both the Regulae and the Discourse on Method, and thus, like Adrien Baillet and others in the seventeenth century, we can understand these two works as embodying Descartes’ “logic,” despite Descartes’ notorious anti-logic Renaissance rhetoric in (...) both writings. (shrink)
This volume presents new work in history and historiography to the increasingly broad audience for studies of the history and philosophy of science. These essays are linked by a concern to understand the context of early modern science in its own context.
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)
Gregorio Baldin’s book, La croisée des savoirs, concerns the intellectual relations among Hobbes, Mersenne, and Descartes. The study is limited to the time between 1634 and 1648, starting when Hobbes first met Mersenne in Paris and ending when Mersenne died. It covers three main topics. Part i is devoted to the relations maintained by Hobbes with the circle of Mersenne during 1634–1636, which Baldin thinks are essential for the development of Hobbes’ scientific thought. Part ii develops the theme of the (...) “hidden” influence of Mersenne on Hobbes’ thought, highlighting points of contact between the two authors, such as mechanism, research in optics, and their approach to epistemology. Part iii concerns Hobbes’ influence on Mersenne’s thought. It addresses several themes, starting with Mersenne’s interest in Hobbes’ system, the attitudes of Mersenne, Gassendi, and Hobbes toward Cartesian metaphysics, and ending with scientific themes debated in Mersenne’s circle during the 1640s. (shrink)
A superb text for teaching the philosophy of Descartes, this volume includes all his major works in their entirety, important selections from his lesser known writings, and key selections from his philosophical correspondence. The result is an anthology that enables the reader to understand the development of Descartes’s thought over his lifetime. Includes a biographical Introduction, chronology, bibliography, and index.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
Since the revival of historicist philosophy of science in the 1960s many philosophers have acknowledged a debt to Duhem. But Duhem’s opinions are imperfectly understood and, as McMullin has shown in his (1970) and (1979), there are many strands in the current revival of historicism. We consider here Duhem’s views on the role of history in the appraisal of scientific theories. However, there is no single text offering Duhem’s views on the subject; rather, they are revealed during their application to (...) various historical and contemporary cases. Duhem’s most sustained examination of a contemporary case is his critique of Maxwell’s science and scientific methodology.Duhem’s critique of Maxwell is not a set of isolated or incidental dicta, but the expression of Duhem’s mature thought over the last quarter-century of his life, ranging from (at least) 1893 to his death in 1916. (shrink)
I consider two events in late seventeenth-century philosophy: the condemnation of Cartesianism by the church, the throne, and the university and the noncondemnation of Gassendism by the same powers. What is striking about the two events is that both Cartesians and Gassendists accepted the same proposition deemed heretical. Thus, what was sufficient to condemn Cartesianism was not sufficient to condemn Gassendism. As a result, I suggest that to understand what is involved in condemnation one has to pay close attention to (...) the intellectual and/or social context and to rhetorical strategy, not just to the propositions condemned. In this case, what is at stake are some of the central propositions of corpuscularianism and the mechanical philosophy. (shrink)
These selections from _Le système du monde_, the classic ten-volume history of the physical sciences written by the great French physicist Pierre Duhem, focus on cosmology, Duhem's greatest interest. By reconsidering the work of such Arab and Christian scholars as Averroes, Avicenna, Gregory of Rimini, Albert of Saxony, Nicole Oresme, Duns Scotus, and William of Occam, Duhem demonstrated the sophistication of medieval science and cosmology.
This anthology offers the key works of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz in their entirety or in substantial selections, along with a rich selection of associated texts by other leading thinkers of the period.
This anthology offers the key works of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume in their entirety or in substantial selections, along with a rich selection of associated texts by other leading thinkers of the period.