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The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

Matthew L. Jones

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780226409542
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226409566 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226409566.001.0001
The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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Amid the unrest, dislocation, and uncertainty of seventeenth-century Europe, readers seeking consolation and assurance turned to philosophical and scientific books that offered ways of conquering fears and training the mind—guidance for living a good life. This book presents a triptych showing how three key early modern scientists—René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Gottfried Leibniz—envisioned their new work as useful for cultivating virtue and for pursuing a good life. Their scientific and philosophical innovations stemmed in part from their understanding of mathematics and science as cognitive and spiritual exercises that could create a truer mental and spiritual nobility. In portraying the rich contexts surrounding Descartes' geometry, Pascal's arithmetical triangle, and Leibniz's calculus, the author argues that this drive for moral therapeutics guided important developments of early modern philosophy and the Scientific Revolution.

Keywords: unrest; uncertainty; seventeenth-century Europe; consolation; philosophical books; scientific books; early modern scientists; René Descartes; Blaise Pascal; Gottfried Leibniz

Book.  406 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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Geometry as Spiritual Exercise in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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A Rhetorical History of Truth in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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Mathematical Liaisons in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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The Anthropology of Disproportion in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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Forms of Expression in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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Seeing All at Once in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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Epilogue in The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution

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