Descartes: An Intellectual Biography

Paperback | May 1, 1997

byStephen Gaukroger

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Rene 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 onDescartes, 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 werephilosophy 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 viewsabout 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 ergosum, `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.

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From Our Editors

Rene 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.

From the Publisher

Rene 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 onDescartes, traces his intellectual development from ...

From the Jacket

Rene 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 is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He is Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and President of the Australian Society for the History of Philosophy.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:520 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.18 inPublished:May 1, 1997Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198237243

ISBN - 13:9780198237242

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Table of Contents

Preface; Chronological Table; Introduction1. `A Learned and Eloquent Piety'2. An Education in Propriety, 1606-16183. The Apprenticeship with Beeckman, 1618-16194. The Search for Method, 1619-16255. The Paris Years, 1625-16286. A New Beginning, 1629-16307. A New System of the World, 1630-16338. The Years of Consolidation, 1634-16409. Natural Philosophy and Orthodoxy, 1640-1644Biographical Sketches; Select Bibliography; Index

From Our Editors

Rene 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.

Editorial Reviews

`The book is a very fine achievement indeed. Gaukroger long ago proved himself to be one of the best guides to the philosophy of Descartes ... in this work he has surpassed even his own high standards, and surely demonstrated once and for all that Descartes cannot be understood unless he isseen as a natural philosopher. Furthermore, thanks to the superbly clear organisation of his text, it is possible to break into the densely packed narrative in order to use it as a handbook.'Metascience