Reasons Descartes’ should be seriously read

1. Descartes’ is not just the author of the meditations; he has historically significant physics, and arguably anticipates the second law of motion

2. Descartes’ has interesting, but not terribly significant mathematical innovations, still, that mapping system and developments in trigonometry is pretty significant, right? Even if it’s not metaphysics…

3. Descartes’ represents a philosophical moment; when freethinking was opposed and atheism was a stigma. There is at least one commentator out there who argued that Descartes was an atheist…(that’s a very complicated story though…)

4. Descartes’ arries on the spirit of Aristotle to systematise reality; the project Descartes had of Le Monde was a promising idea. Philosophers today are hardly as ambitious as he was, not even Kant had the pretentions of Descartes. Perhaps the only people who have similar pretensions are rationalist theologians and theoretcal physicists who talk about the “theory of everything”.

5. Spinoza’s axiomatic system in the Ethics was predated by Descartes (Principles, III)


P.S. A comment about dualism, scepticism and the ontological argument for God are purposely omitted; they are hardly significant compared to the above.


One thought on “Reasons Descartes’ should be seriously read

  1. All of the Modern philosophers have had such amazing lives (except Kant)

    Outside of philosophy, Leibniz invented calculus

    Outside of physics, Newton found a way to detect counterfeit coins

    During his life, Spinoza maintained contact with intelligensia like Oldenberg, Leibniz and Robert Boyle. two of whom were members of the Royal Society.

    Hume, during his life, had friends from Rousseau to Adam Smith; the latter of which currently appears on £20 notes , the former of which, abandoned his kids.

    Berkeley travelled to the new world, and now has a city and university named after him there!

    My point is this; they are all worthy of study; just because Descartes’ is the standard intro text doesn’t make him more or less interesting and imortant than the others; that 6 chapter book just makes him ‘accessible’ to non-technical audiences


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