The typical Cartesian collection contains papers which treat the problems arising out of Descartes's philosophy as though they and it appeared for the first time in a recent journal. The approach of this collection is quite different. The eight contributors concentrate on problems faced by Cartesianism which are of historical significance. Without denigrating the importance of the technique of exploiting the texts in a manner that appeals to contemporary philosophical interests, the contributors show how Cartesianism was shaped over time by the criticism it received. This criticism took place in many areas - politics, theology, natural science, and metaphysics - and its scope is reflected in this collection of papers. The efforts of advocates of Cartesianism to produce a biography of Descartes, and the political difficulties they faced, are no less a part of the problems of Cartesianism than are the difficulties alleged against the Cartesian ontology of thought and extension in accounting for transubstatiation. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century theories of the formation of the earth, for example, were historically part of the same set of problems as the difficulties in Bible criticism. These significant issues and many others are discussed in this volume.
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