The Years of Consolidation 1634–1640

Stephen Gaukroger

in Descartes: An Intellectual Biography

Published in print May 1997 | ISBN: 9780198237242
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597480 | DOI:
The Years of Consolidation 1634–1640

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Discusses various works of Descartes's and their reception, including objections to them and his response to those objections. Météors deals with meteorology, which includes a corpuscular model of light, an account of refraction, and vision, and its links with optical instruments; the Dioptrique is a practical treatise on the construction of these optical instruments; and Géométrie compares arithmetic with geometry and extends Descartes's treatment of the Pappus problem and the classification of curves. The organization of material in the Discours appears arbitrary unless interpreted autobiographically. The Meditationes contains a fuller treatment of scepticism, in comparison with Pyrrhonism, and hyperbolic doubt, a defence of mechanism (which Descartes also saw as a defence of Copernicanism), discussions of the cogito and the transcendence of God, the classification of ideas, a new version of the doctrine of clarity and distinctness, and the nature of the thinking self, the identification of the self with the mind and mind/body dualism.

Keywords: body; clarity and distinctness; cogito; Dioptrique; Discours; Discourse of Method; dualism; mechanism; Meditationes; Meditations; Météors; mind; Pyrrhonism; scepticism

Chapter.  29785 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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