1st Edition

Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes and in his Reception

Edited By Delphine Antoine-Mahut, Sophie Roux Copyright 2019
    300 Pages
    by Routledge

    300 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume explores the relationship between physics and metaphysics in Descartes’ philosophy. According to the standard account, Descartes modified the objects of metaphysics and physics and inverted the order in which these two disciplines were traditionally studied. This book challenges the standard account in which Descartes prioritizes metaphysics over physics. It does so by taking into consideration the historical reception of Descartes and the ways in which Descartes himself reacted to these receptions in his own lifetime. The book stresses the diversity of these receptions by taking into account not only Cartesianisms but also anti-Cartesianisms, and by showing how they retroactively highlighted different aspects of Descartes’ works and theoretical choices. The historical aspect of the volume is unique in that it not only analyzes different constructions of Descartes that emerged in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, but also reflects on how his work was first read by philosophers across Europe. Taken together, the essays in this volume offer a fresh and up-to-date contribution to this important debate in early modern philosophy.


    Delphine Antoine-Mahut and Sophie Roux

    Part I. Historiography

    1. First Philosophy, Metaphysics and Physics: The Implications of Order in Cartesian and in the Enlightenment Philosophy

    Mariafranca Spallanzani

    2. To Replant and Unroot: Typology of the Cartesian Tree of Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century French Histories of Philosophy

    Delphine Antoine-Mahut

    3. Between Fake, Unfortunate, and Actual Dependence: The Tumultuous Relationships of Descartes’ Physics and Metaphysics in the First Half of Twentieth-Century History and Philosophy of Science

    Delphine Bellis

    Part II. Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes’ Time

    4. Ontology and the Place of Metaphysics: Taurellus, Gorlaeus, Regius and Descartes

    Christoph Lüthy

    5. Strange Bedfellows: Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes

    Emanuela Scribano

    6. Descartes, A Priori Knowledge, and Metaphysics

    Desmond M. Clarke

    7. A Deflationist Solution to the Problem of Force in Descartes

    Sophie Roux

    Part III. European Recceptions

    8. Duplex intellectus et sermo duplex: Method and the separation of disciplines in Johannes De Raey

    Antonella Del Prete

    9. The Materialist Reception of the Cartesian Physics in Naples

    Pierre Girard

    10. Physics in the broad senseBoyle, Newton and the Baconian metaphysical physics

    Philippe Hamou

    11. Continuous Creation, Occasionalism and Persistence: Leibniz on Bayle

    Jean-Pascal Anfray

    12. Sticking to the Middle Course. Intellectual ethics and scientific practice in Leibniz’s metaphysical physics

    Mogens Lærke


    Delphine Antoine-Mahut is Professor of Early Modern Philosophy at the ENS, Lyon. Her research focuses on the tribulations – adventures and misadventures – of Cartesian dualism between the seventeenth and the nineteenth century. She is especially interested by the intersections of metaphysics and physiology.

    Sophie Roux is Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at the École Normale Supérieure. She published extensively on natural philosophy in the Early Modern period, but also in philosophy of science (e.g. on thought experiments and on mathematization) and in history of philosophy of science (e.g. on Duhem and on Couturat).

    "The strength of this volume lies in its attention to intellectual history of the sort that is not often discussed in Anglophone historiography, but that is given more emphasis in the work of European scholars."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews