Descartes and the Enlightenment /
Peter A. Schouls.
Kingston, Ont. : McGill-Queen's University Press, 1989.
194 p. --
0773510141 :
More Details
Kingston, Ont. : McGill-Queen's University Press, 1989.
0773510141 :
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. [187]-190.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1989-09:
Enlightenment philosophers such as Voltaire and Diderot are usually understood as rejecting the rationalism of Descartes and replacing it by an empiricism derived from John Locke. Schouls argues that Descartes nonetheless influenced Enlightenment thought. Although the philosophers rejected specific Cartesian metaphysical claims, they nonetheless carried on the Cartesian method. Both saw this method as aiming at certainty, which would render one autonomous with respect to inherited traditions and patterns of thought; and such concepts as freedom, mastery, and progress are central to the thought of both. Others have argued this for Enlightenment thought; this book does the same for Descartes. Even if one continues to accept, contrary to Schouls, that the Cartesian rationalist metaphysics is of greater philosophical interest than his philosophy of human nature, Schouls's work will make it hard to defend claims (e.g., Peter Gay's The Enlightenment, CH, Oct '67), about radical discontinuity between Cartesianism and the Enlightenment. For advanced students. -F. Wilson, University of Toronto
Review Quotes
"elegantly conceived and executed and puts forward an interesting, novel, and well substantiated thesis...will be found valuable by philosophers and historians of thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and of course, by Cartesian scholars." Peter Jones, Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Edinburgh "a genuine contribution to the field. Throughout, the author is careful, balanced, and interesting." Mark Glouberman, Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 1989
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Main Description
Schouls limits himself to a discussion of these three concepts in order to escape facile and vague generalizations. For the same reason, in relating Descartes to eighteenth-century thinkers, Schouls limits his attention to a single part of the spectrum of acknowledged Enlightenment reflection, the French "philosopes." From their writings he demonstrates that they are, and acknowledge themselves to be, Descartes' progeny.

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