By John Schuster

This booklet reconstructs key features of the early occupation of Descartes from 1618 to 1633; that's, up throughout the element of his composing his first procedure of average philosophy, Le Monde, in 1629-33. It focuses upon the overlapping and intertwined improvement of Descartes’ tasks in physico-mathematics, analytical arithmetic, common strategy, and, ultimately, systematic corpuscular-mechanical normal philosophy. the fear isn't really easily with the conceptual and technical elements of those initiatives; yet, with Descartes’ agendas inside them and his building and presentation of his highbrow id with regards to them.

Descartes’ technical initiatives, agendas and senses of id shifted over the years, entangled and displayed nice successes and deep mess ups, as he morphed from a mathematically useful, Jesuit proficient graduate in neo-Scholastic Aristotelianism to aspiring prophet of a systematised corpuscular-mechanism, passing via phases of being a devoted physico-mathematicus, recommend of a putative ‘universal mathematics’, and projector of a grand methodological dream. In all 3 dimensions—projects, agendas and identification concerns—the younger Descartes struggled and contended, with himself and with actual or digital friends and rivals, as a result the name ‘Descartes-Agonistes’.

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Additional info for Descartes-Agonistes: Physico-mathematics, Method & Corpuscular-Mechanism 1618-33

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1995. Descartes: An intellectual biography. Oxford: OUP. A. Schuster. 2002. The hydrostatic paradox and the origins of Cartesian dynamics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 33: 535–572. A. Schuster, and J. ). 2000. Descartes’ natural philosophy. London: Routledge. C. 2005. Descartes: The life of René Descartes and its place in his times. London: Free Press. Howard, Don. 2008. Time for a moratorium? Isaacson, Einstein and the challenge of scientific biography. Journal of Historical Biography 3: 124–133.

The hydrostatics manuscript turns out to be the key case, most revealing of the style and aims of Descartes’ physico-mathematics articulated to, and through, an embryonic corpuscular-mechanism. Understanding his agenda on this basis allows us to understand the third fragment, which in turn is critically important to my examination in Chap. 4 of Descartes’ later successes in physico-mathematical optics in the mid and late 1620s, including his discovery and attempted mechanistic explanation of the law of refraction of light.

On the one hand, it is shown that the vortex celestial mechanics has a genealogy reaching back through the physico-mathematics studied in earlier chapters. But, on the other hand, we also learn that the vortex mechanics was clearly a piece of generic natural philosophical discourse, understandable as such by any member of the educated culture of natural philosophizing, and playing the central role in this new corpuscular-mechanical system of natural philosophy. The larger lesson is that Le Monde was simultaneously the climax of Descartes’ trajectory in physico-mathematics and the first iteration of a systematic natural philosophizing, emergent from that carapace.

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