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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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Reintroducing Descartes in the History of Materialism

Reintroducing Descartes in the History of Materialism

The Effects of the Descartes/Hobbes Debate on the First Reception of Cartesianism

(p.125) 8 Reintroducing Descartes in the History of Materialism
Descartes and Cartesianism

Delphine Antoine-Mahut

Oxford University Press

Descartes is identified as a defender of the pure idea, especially in contrast to Hobbes. The objective of my contribution is to discuss this historiographical cliché by combining an internalist approach to the Cartesian corpus (the Treatise on Man, the Optics, and the Objections and Replies) and a reception study of Cartesianism by La Forge. Three results emerge: as (1) the debate between Descartes and Hobbes employs two distinct conceptions of the material idea; and (2) Cartesianism is obliged to take the arguments of materialists seriously in order to preserve the specificity of the material, Cartesian definition of the idea; and (3) Cartesianism should therefore be reintroduced in the history of modern-day materialism and anthropology as an essential component and no longer simply a ghostly antagonist.

Keywords:   Cartesianism, René Descartes, history of materialism, Thomas Hobbes, definition of idea, Louis de la Forge

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