Download PDF Early Modern Cartesianisms: Dutch and French Constructions

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Our members might be interested in the following seminars, conferences, and lectures. Talk to your supervisor to determine if any are a good fit and worthwhile for you. Fallon, Notre Dame. If you are interested in participating in any of the programs or would like to inquire about travel grants to attend, please contact Prof. Benjamin Hill for more details. Like most philosophers of my generation, I was trained to see Descartes as an epistemologist and metaphysician of substance. I was aware that he had side interests mechanism and mathematization, the philosophy of mind, and philosophical method but they were just that, side interests.

I came to see Meditation Three as the center of his vision, the clear and distinct perception of God and the containment of everything therein. Reading Descartes as an Augustinian is particularly interesting, fruitful, and exciting, I find. And I want to keep pushing and pressing it to see how far it can go and to see what the philosophical costs and benefits of that philosophical vision are. In so far as any new scholarship wants to depict the philosophical scene of the time period and flesh out the details of the statements and personalities involved in doing philosophy then — great; I love it!

Fortunately, much of the new scholarship on early Cartesianism aims at and achieves more than just historical psychoanalysis and fleshing out details within historical space.

Pdf Early Modern Cartesianisms Dutch And French Constructions 2016

They almost all emphasize that the proliferation of Cartesian voices during this period produce a poly-harmoniousness indicative of something philosophically more interesting and greater. Dobre and Nyden talk about a family resemblance among Cartesians and Schmaltz refines that into a social network account of Cartesianisms. As I take it, the important message is that none of these versions are more or less authentic, more or less orthodox than any other, even though they are all incompatibly different.

This more inclusive notion of Cartesianism is what is interesting and attractive to me. Whether there is a single coherent philosophical vision underlying all the texts and works Descartes presented over the course of some thirty years in no longer really the issue, if this new scholarship is on the right track.

The interesting issues, it seems, concern what follows if an emphasis or priority is placed on certain ideas, theses, or positions rather than others. Are there reasons for preferring some starting-points over others? I still prefer the Augustinian reading of Descartes and am interested in pushing how far it can be developed and defended. But not with an eye toward proving it to be historically superior to the others. I can prefer, defend, and explore one reading without disvaluing the historical or philosophical significance of the others, in just the same way that being a historian studying Descartes or Cartesianism does not make me a Cartesian or a partisan of the Augustinian Cartesians.

Maybe we can think of it like ice cream: my preferring vanilla ice cream over chocolate and defending my preference of it does not require me to disvalue chocolate, prohibit me from purchasing it for my kids, or even criticizing it.

Robert Desgabets

Historical study and research works the same way — what matters and is interesting is not whether one flavor is better than the others especially in all contexts and for all historians but the characters and merits of each expression of the flavors, a silkier and more intense vanilla or a subtler and surprising dark chocolate.

Some philosophers might worry about historical truth here: surely there is a fact of the matter about what Descartes was thinking and saying, and historians are or ought to be concerned with that; as the ice cream metaphor emphasizes, this approach is to abandon truth for preference or intellectual taste. Um, OK. Short answer: It is not true that the historian of philosophy ought to be concerned with establishing the truth about matters of fact. But it will be hard to accomplish more than a paraphrase of what Descartes did say.

There is not much more evidence for what his psychological states were other than his writings and written reports about what he said or claimed to think, both of which are difficult to handle. There is not much evidence for such a project and the evidence that there is is not really of the right kind for it. Moreover, whatever is of interest to historians of philosophy in those resources are woefully underdetermined.

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But hey, if that is your kind of thing, great; however you like to spend your time is no concern of mind. You should notice also that being concerned with truth and matters of fact in this sense requires no real philosophical skill or training. This points toward something deeply flawed with that characterization of the approach, something that makes it worse than simply a wild goose chase because even if successful it will still miss something important, even essential, about the history of philosophy.


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The history of philosophy is an philosophical exploration of ideas and systems in addition to being a historical exploration. It essentially involves analysis, assessment, comparison, and argument construction in its projects. One of the important lessons of this new scholarship into Cartesianism is that there is no fact of the matter when it comes to the philosophical ideas and systems being explored and expressed by Descartes and the various Cartesianism. There is an inherent vagueness, fruitfulness, and undeveloped ideas in really interesting philosophical texts; that is an important part of what makes them interesting.

And this is what undercuts the notion that there is a fact of the matter about the philosophical system being discussed by a historical figure. This is not to say that there are not standards for assessing and differentiating readings or that some readings are not obviously wrong-headed. But some ice creams are pretty gross. Have you ever had bacon raspberry ice cream?

What is CARTESIANISM? What does CARTESIANISM mean? CARTESIANISM meaning, definition & explanation

But that does not entail that one flavor is better all things considered or even relative to a context than all others or that anything is interesting enough to spend time and energy on. He had a message and a vision and was working toward developing and filling it out.


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  • He is an authority on it, just like some gourmands are authorities on ice creams or wines, or cheeses, or etc… , but he is not an exclusive or inerrant authority on it. By engaging it historically as historians of philosophy we are also engaging it philosophically and contributing to its philosophical development and expression. The different Cartesians present different philosophical characteristics with interestingly different and appealing strengths and weaknesses.

    Each is worth understanding, and appreciating, in their own rights, and comparing with one another and with non-Cartesian alternatives, regardless of whether one wants to become a partisan or not. As a historian of philosophy, I want to sample widely, savor with gusto, and enjoy new intellectual experiences, whether Cartesian, Lockean, or otherwise. Hard work, but immensely rewarding and valuable. Good luck Richard! Our members and followers might be interested in this report of a workshop held at Western last weekend June , From the report, it sounds like it was an excited and rich event!

    You might be interested in checking out this report on the Locke Workshop posted by Western Philosophy. The interview and discussion will take place in early October watch for the announcement of a firm date and time around the end of August. If you are interested in joining the group as we study and reflect on the book virtual participation is possible or are interested in joining the panel of external experts supplying questions for Prof.

    Van Cleve, please contact us. James Van Cleve here shows why Thomas Reid deserves a place alongside the other canonical figures of modern philosophy. The most comprehensive work on Reid in a quarter century, this book will be welcomed by students of early modern philosophy, epistemology, the philosophy of perception, and the philosophy of action.

    We hope your trip to Chicago is fun and your experience at the Newberry rich and rewarding! It sounds like it will be a great chance to learn about archival work and learn about some of the holdings and opportunities at the Newberry.

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    Key questions for the symposium are:. If you are interested, please contact Prof. Hill for more information about the programs and applying for them. Travel funds are available for Western students to attend Newberry Library programs. Congratulations to Julia Lei — She gave her first philosophical presentation yesterday at the 5th annual Michigan Undergraduate Conference in Flint, Michigan. Julia argued that the proper characterization of soul as the substantial form of the body is in terms of the activation of the animal body. The notion of an activation is a very different kind of thing, ontologically speaking, than a substance, she argued.

    As such, it does not reduce down to the animal body even though it does depend in some important way on the animal body. When you see Julia, please congratulate her and feel free to ask her about animalism, substantial forms, and the hylomorphic conception of soul. This study addresses the need for a more current understanding of these receptions by considering the different constructions of Descartes's thought that emerged in the Calvinist United Provinces Netherlands and Catholic France, the two main centers for early modern Cartesianism, during the perioddating from the last decades of his life to the century or so following his death in It turns out that we must speak not of a single early modern Cartesianism rigidly defined in terms of Descartes's own authorial intentions, but rather of a loose collection of early modern Cartesianisms thatinvolve a range of different positions on various sets of issues.

    Though more or less rooted in Descartes's somewhat open-ended views, these Cartesianisms evolved in different ways over time in response to different intellectual and social pressures. Chapters of this study are devoted to: the early modern Catholic and Calvinist condemnations of Descartes and theincompatible Cartesian responses to these; conflicting attitudes among early modern Cartesians toward ancient thought and modernity; competing early modern attempts to combine Descartes's views with those of Augustine; the different occasionalist accounts of causation within early modernCartesianism; and the impact of various forms of early modern Cartesianism on both Dutch medicine and French physics.

    Toggle Dropdown Advanced Search. Schmaltz Paper Book, Status Available. Call number B Description There is a general sense that the philosophy of Descartes was a dominant force in early modern thought.