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Descartes and CartesianismEssays in Honour of Desmond Clarke$
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Stephen Gaukroger and Catherine Wilson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198779643

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198779643.001.0001

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Context, History, and Interpretation

Context, History, and Interpretation

The Religious Dimension in Descartes’ Metaphysics

(p.42) 3 Context, History, and Interpretation
Descartes and Cartesianism

John Cottingham

Oxford University Press

Descartes’ philosophical outlook was shaped not just by the aspirations of the new mathematical physics that he helped create, but also by the contemplative tradition of Plato and Augustine that remained at the centre of his worldview. Giving due acknowledgement to Descartes the scientist should not lead us to downplay the role of Descartes the theistic metaphysician. Descartes’ philosophy, for all its progressive scientific aspects, is located within an overarching epistemic and metaphysical framework that acknowledges our fundamental human dependence. For Descartes, philosophical inquiry could not even begin without an implicit reliance on a stable rational order at the heart of things, and an implicit faith that what comes to us from that source will point us towards the truth.

Keywords:   René Descartes, God, Plato, Augustine, worldview, mathematical physics

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