Chapter

Plato’s Sun and Descartes’s Stove: Contemplation and Control in Cartesian Philosophy

JOHN COTTINGHAM

in Rationalism, Platonism and God

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264201
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734670 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264201.003.0002

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Plato’s Sun and Descartes’s Stove: Contemplation and Control in Cartesian Philosophy

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This chapter examines contemplation and control in Cartesian philosophy and sets out some of the Platonic strands in Descartes’ cosmology, metaphysics and moral theory. It argues that Descartes’ philosophy is deeply imbued with ancient and medieval views of humanity’s place in the divine order, and yet is also the harbinger of a modern conception of a value-neutral and impersonal natural universe. It considers the tension between Descartes’ natural philosophy and account of physical law and suggests that these two mindsets represent a certain opposition within people’s thinking that still needs a resolution.

Keywords: Cartesian philosophy; cosmology; metaphysics; moral theory; contemplation; control; divine order; natural philosophy; physical law

Chapter.  12380 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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