This is the first intellectual biography of Descartes in English. Stephen Gaukroger provides a rich, authoritative account of Descartes' intellectual and personal development, understood in its historical context, and offers a reassessment of all aspects of his life and work.
René Descartes (1596-1650) is the father of modern philosophy, and one of the greatest of all thinkers. This is the first intellectual biography of Descartes in English; it offers a fundamental reassessment of all aspects of his life and work. Stephen Gaukroger, a leading authority on Descartes, traces his intellectual development from childhood, showing the connections between his intellectual and personal life and placing these in the cultural context of seventeenth century Europe. Descartes' early work in mathematics and science produced ground breaking theories, methods, and tools still in use today. This book gives the first full account of how this work informed and influenced the later philosophical studies for which, above all, Descartes is renowned. Not only were philosophy and science intertwined in Descartes' life; so were philosophy and religion. The Church of Rome found Galileo guilty of heresy in 1633; two decades earlier, Copernicus' theories about the universe had been denounced as blasphemous. To avoid such accusations, Descartes clothed his views about the relation between God and humanity, and about the nature of the universe, in a philosophical garb acceptable to the Church. His most famous project was the exploration of the foundations of human knowledge, starting from the proof of one's own existence offered in the formula Cogito ergo sum, `I am thinking therefore I exist'. Stephen Gaukroger argues that this was not intended as an exercise in philosophical scepticism, but rather to provide Descartes' scientific theories, influenced as they were by Copernicus and Galileo, with metaphysical legitimation. This book offers for the first time a full understanding of how Descartes developed his revolutionary ideas. It will be welcomed by all readers interested in the origins of modern thought.
Towards the end of his life, Descartes published the first four parts of a projected six-part work, The Principles of Philosophy. This was intended to be the definitive statement of his complete system of philosophy. Gaukroger examines the whole system, and reconstructs the last two parts from Descartes' other writings.
Of all the thinkers of the century of genius that inaugurated modern philosophy, none lived an intellectual life more rich and varied than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716). Maria Rosa Antognazza's pioneering biography provides a unified portrait of this unique thinker and the world from which he came. At the centre of the huge range of Leibniz's apparently miscellaneous endeavours, Antognazza reveals a single master project lending unity to his extraordinarily multifaceted life's work. Throughout the vicissitudes of his long life, Leibniz tenaciously pursued the dream of a systematic reform and advancement of all the sciences. As well as tracing the threads of continuity that bound these theoretical and practical activities to this all-embracing plan, this illuminating study also traces these threads back into the intellectual traditions of the Holy Roman Empire in which Leibniz lived and throughout the broader intellectual networks that linked him to patrons in countries as distant as Russia and to correspondents as far afield as China.
Biography & Autobiography by Geneviève Rodis-Lewis
This major intellectual biography illuminates the personal and historical events of Descartes's life, from his birth and early years in France to his death in Sweden, his burial, and the fate of his remains. Concerned not only with historical events but also with the development of Descartes's personality, Rodis-Lewis speculates on the effect childhood impressions may have had on his philosophy and scientific theories. She considers in detail his friendships, particularly with Isaac Beeckman and Marin Mersenne. Primarily on the basis of his private correspondence, Rodis-Lewis gives a thorough and balanced discussion of his personality. The Descartes she depicts is by turns generous and unforgiving, arrogant and open-minded, loyal in his friendships but eager for the isolation his work required. Drawing on Descartes's writings and his public and private correspondence, she corrects the errors of earlier biographies and clarifies many obscure episodes in the philosopher's life.
Towards the end of his life, Descartes published the first four parts of a projected six-part work, The Principles of Philosophy. This was intended to be the definitive statement of his complete system of philosophy, dealing with everything from cosmology to the nature of human happiness. Stephen Gaukroger examines the system, and reconstructs the last two parts, "On Living Things" and "On Man", from Descartes' other writings. He relates the work to the tradition of late Scholastic textbooks which it follows, and also to Descartes' other philosophical writings.
René Descartes is best remembered today for writing 'I think, therefore I am', but his main contribution to the history of ideas was his effort to construct a philosophy that would be sympathetic to the new sciences that emerged in the seventeenth century. To a great extent he was the midwife to the Scientific Revolution and a significant contributor to its key concepts. In four major publications, he fashioned a philosophical system that accommodated the needs of these new sciences and thereby earned the unrelenting hostility of both Catholic and Calvinist theologians, who relied on the scholastic philosophy that Descartes hoped to replace. His contemporaries claimed that his proofs of God's existence in the Meditations were so unsuccessful that he must have been a cryptic atheist and that his discussion of skepticism served merely to fan the flames of libertinism. This is the first biography in English that addresses the full range of Descartes' interest in theology, philosophy and the sciences and that traces his intellectual development through his entire career.
Exactly four hundred years after the birth of René Descartes (1596-1650), the present volume now makes available, for the first time in a bilingual, philosophical edition prepared especially for English-speaking readers, his Regulae ad directionem ingenii / Rules for the Direction of the Natural Intelligence (1619-1628), the Cartesian treatise on method. This unique edition contains an improved version of the original Latin text, a new English translation intended to be as literal as possible and as liberal as necessary, an interpretive essay contextualizing the text historically, philologically, and philosophically, a com-prehensive index of Latin terms, a key glossary of English equivalents, and an extensive bibliography covering all aspects of Descartes' methodology. Stephen Gaukroger has shown, in his authoritative Descartes: An Intellectual Biography (1995), that one cannot understand Descartes without understanding the early Descartes. But one also cannot understand the early Descartes without understanding the Regulae / Rules. Nor can one understand the Regulae / Rules without understanding a philosophical edition thereof. Therein lies the justification for this project. The edition is intended, not only for students and teachers of philosophy as well as of related disciplines such as literary and cultural criticism, but also for anyone interested in seriously reflecting on the nature, expression, and exercise of human intelligence: What is it? How does it manifest itself? How does it function? How can one make the most of what one has of it? Is it equally distributed in all human beings? What is natural about it, and what, not? In the Regulae / Rules Descartes tries to provide, from a distinctively early modern perspective, answers both to these and to many other questions about what he refers to as ingenium.
The first full-length study in English of Gassendi's life and work. I. The Man and his Work - II. Gassendi the Critic (separate chapters devoted to the Aristoteleans, Herbert of Cherbury and Descartes) - III. Gassendi the Philosopher. (Bibliotheca Humanistica & Reformatorica, Vol. XXXIV).
This accessible and highly readable book is the first full-length biography of Hegel to be published since the largely outdated treatments of the nineteenth century. Althaus draws on new historical material and scholarly sources about the life and times of this most enigmatic and influential of modern philosophers. He paints a living portrait of a thinker whose personality was more complex than is often imagined, and shows that Hegel's relation to his revolutionary times was also more ambiguous than is usually accepted. Althaus presents a broad chronological narrative of Hegel's development from his early theological studies in Tubingen and the associated unpublished writings, profoundly critical of the established religious orthodoxies. He traces Hegel's years of philosophical apprenticeship with Schelling in Jena as he struggled for an independent intellectual position, up to the crowning period of influence and success in Berlin where Hegel appeared as the advocate of the modern Prussian state. Althaus tells a vivid story of Hegel's life and his intellectual and personal crises, drawing generously on the philosopher's own words from his extensive correspondence. His central role in the cultural and political life of the time is illuminated by the impressions and responses of his contemporaries, such as Schelling, Schleiermacher and Goethe. This panoramic introduction to Hegel's life, work and times will be a valuable resource for scholars, students and anyone interested in this towering figure of philosophy.
Stephen Gaukroger presents an original account of the development of empirical science and the understanding of human behaviour from the mid-eighteenth century. Since the seventeenth century, science in the west has undergone a unique form of cumulative development in which it has been consolidated through integration into and shaping of a culture. But in the eighteenth century, science was cut loose from the legitimating culture in which it had had a public rationale as a fruitful and worthwhile form of enquiry. What kept it afloat between the middle of the eighteenth and the middle of the nineteenth centuries, when its legitimacy began to hinge on an intimate link with technology? The answer lies in large part in an abrupt but fundamental shift in how the tasks of scientific enquiry were conceived, from the natural realm to the human realm. At the core of this development lies the naturalization of the human, that is, attempts to understand human behaviour and motivations no longer in theological and metaphysical terms, but in empirical terms. One of the most striking feature of this development is the variety of forms it took, and the book explores anthropological medicine, philosophical anthropology, the 'natural history of man', and social arithmetic. Each of these disciplines re-formulated basic questions so that empirical investigation could be drawn upon in answering them, but the empirical dimension was conceived very differently in each case, with the result that the naturalization of the human took the form of competing, and in some respects mutually exclusive, projects.
Consisting of twelve newly commissioned essays and enhanced by William Molyneux’s famous early translation of the Meditations, this volume touches on all the major themes of one of the most influential texts in the history of philosophy. Situates the Meditations in its philosophical and historical context. Touches on all of the major themes of the Meditations, including the mind-body relation, the nature of the mind, and the existence of the material world.
The first book to address the historical failures of philosophy—and what we can learn from them Philosophers are generally unaware of the failures of philosophy, recognizing only the failures of particular theories, which are then remedied with other theories. But, taking the long view, philosophy has actually collapsed several times, been abandoned, sometimes for centuries, and been replaced by something quite different. When it has been revived it has been with new aims that are often accompanied by implausible attempts to establish continuity with a perennial philosophical tradition. What do these failures tell us? The Failures of Philosophy presents a historical investigation of philosophy in the West, from the perspective of its most significant failures: attempts to provide an account of the good life, to establish philosophy as a discipline that can stand in judgment over other forms of thought, to set up philosophy as a theory of everything, and to construe it as a discipline that rationalizes the empirical and mathematical sciences. Stephen Gaukroger argues that these failures reveal more about philosophical enquiry and its ultimate point than its successes ever could. These failures illustrate how and why philosophical inquiry has been conceived and reconceived, why philosophy has been thought to bring distinctive skills to certain questions, and much more. An important and original account of philosophy’s serial breakdowns, The Failures of Philosophy ultimately shows how these shortcomings paradoxically reveal what matters most about the field.
The institutionalization of History and Philosophy of Science as a distinct field of scholarly endeavour began comparatively earl- though not always under that name - in the Australasian region. An initial lecturing appointment was made at the University of Melbourne immediately after the Second World War, in 1946, and other appoint ments followed as the subject underwent an expansion during the 1950s and 1960s similar to that which took place in other parts of the world. Today there are major Departments at the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales and the University of W ollongong, and smaller groups active in many other parts of Australia and in New Zealand. 'Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science' aims to provide a distinctive pUblication outlet for Australian and New Zealand scholars working in the general area of history, philosophy and social studies of science. Each volume comprises a group of essays on a connected theme, edited by an Australian or a New Zealander with special expertise in that particular area. Papers address general issues, however, rather than local ones; parochial topics are avoided. Further more, though in each volume a majority of the contributors is from Australia or New Zealand, contributions from elsewhere are by no means ruled out. Quite the reverse, in fact - they are actively encouraged wherever appropriate to the balance of the volume in question.
This ebook is a selective guide designed to help scholars and students of social work find reliable sources of information by directing them to the best available scholarly materials in whatever form or format they appear from books, chapters, and journal articles to online archives, electronic data sets, and blogs. Written by a leading international authority on the subject, the ebook provides bibliographic information supported by direct recommendations about which sources to consult and editorial commentary to make it clear how the cited sources are interrelated related. This ebook is a static version of an article from Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy, a dynamic, continuously updated, online resource designed to provide authoritative guidance through scholarship and other materials relevant to the study Philosophy. Oxford Bibliographies Online covers most subject disciplines within the social science and humanities, for more information visit www.oxfordbibligraphies.com.
Publisher: Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
In this dissertation I deal with a particular problem in the historiography of science: the image of Descartes as an early modern scientist. For many, this entails seeing Descartes as a materialist and atheist, who inserted God and faith into his philosophy only to slip it past the authorities. This means that, in reality, Descartes adhered exclusively to the first rule of his method-to give credence only to reason-and that, consequently, he rejected the claims of religion. Any professions of faith found in his work are, therefore, a sham. This is known as the dissimulation hypothesis. I trace the history of this image of Descartes as dissimulator in its most prominent twentieth-century manifestations, beginning with French philosophy at the turn of the century, then going through the Anglo-American discussion of the issue, up to the place of this image in current Straussian political philosophy (the strong version of dissimulation), and in the latest biographical literature. By means of an exhaustive survey of the central philosophical problems found in the primary and secondary sources, I show that while Descartes was careful about his manner of self-presentation in both his life and his work, the strong version of dissimulation adopted by the esoteric Straussian School, which sees Descartes primarily as an atheist, is deeply flawed. I thus reject the dissimulation hypothesis, as well as the image of Descartes as an early-modern scientist (prominent in Stephen Gaukroger's intellectual biography), and suggest that Richard Watson's popular Cogito Ergo Sum: A Life of Rene Descartes, although occasionally going too far in its skepticism, points the way to a more complex and historically accurate intentional portrait of Descartes. I argue that this more complex picture, which is beginning to receive increased attention in the literature, ought to replace the dissimulating Descartes in our research. Rather than being an early-modern scientist, Descartes is more properly seen as a Renaissance natural philosopher, who was cautious about the way he presented himself and his ideas. With this complex intentional portrait in mind, I examine how Descartes dealt with the charges of dissimulation, secret skepticism, and atheism that were leveled at him in the latter part of his life. Descartes, I argue, saw faith, reason, and science as compatible, as is shown by his attitude towards Copernicanism. I conclude with a summary of the implications of the Faustian Descartes for our understanding of the modern world. I also suggest a way of understanding the Straussian interpretation, and Straussianism in general, as an elaborate conspiracy theory designed to further radically conservative political ends.
René Descartes is best known as the man who coined the phrase “I think, therefore I am.” But though he is remembered most as a thinker, Descartes, the man, was no disembodied mind, theorizing at great remove from the worldly affairs and concerns of his time. Far from it. As a young nobleman, Descartes was a soldier and courtier who took part in some of the greatest events of his generation—a man who would not seem out of place in the pages of The Three Musketeers. In The Young Descartes, Harold J. Cook tells the story of a man who did not set out to become an author or philosopher—Descartes began publishing only after the age of forty. Rather, for years he traveled throughout Europe in diplomacy and at war. He was present at the opening events of the Thirty Years' War in Central Europe and Northern Italy, and was also later involved in struggles within France. Enduring exile, scandals, and courtly intrigue, on his journeys Descartes associated with many of the most innovative free thinkers and poets of his day, as well as great noblemen, noblewomen, and charismatic religious reformers. In his personal life, he expressed love for men as well as women and was accused of libertinism by his adversaries. These early years on the move, in touch with powerful people and great events, and his experiences with military engineering and philosophical materialism all shaped the thinker and philosopher Descartes became in exile, where he would begin to write and publish, with purpose. But though it is these writings that made ultimately made him famous, The Young Descartes shows that this story of his early life and the tumultuous times that molded him is sure to spark a reappraisal of his philosophy and legacy.
The most comprehensive collection of essays on Descartes' scientific writings ever published, this volume offers a detailed reassessment of Descartes' scientific work and its bearing on his philosophy. The 35 essays, written by some of the world's leading scholars, cover topics as diverse as optics, cosmology and medicine, and will be of vital interest to all historians of philosophy or science.
Traces the life of Lord Herbert of Chirbury from birth to death, chronicling the travels, poetry, philosophy, and theology of a now-neglected figure who was well known in his own day and whose books were read and commented on by Descartes, Hobbes, and Comenius.