By John G. Cottingham
To confront the philosophical procedure of Rene Descartes is to consider a magnificently laid out map of human cognitive endeavour. In following Descartes arguments, the reader is drawn into one of the most basic and demanding matters in all of philosophy. during this dictionary, John Cottingham offers an alphabetied consultant to this so much stimulating and widely-studied of philosophers. He examines the most important strategies and concepts in Cartesian notion and areas them within the context either one of the seventeenth-century highbrow weather and of next interpretation. The entries variety over a wide selection of parts together with cosmology, physics, theology, psychology and ethics. The ebook is designed to entice the newcomer to Descartes, no matter if scholar or basic reader, whereas additionally delivering precise serious remark and detailed textual references for the extra complicated reader. additionally incorporated are a common advent describing Descartes' existence and works, and bibliographic advisor to the Cartesian texts and the mass of interpretative literature on Descartes.
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Additional resources for A Descartes Dictionary
E. that to which every kind of division, shape and motion is applicable' (AT VIII A 79: CSM I 24 7 ) . A qualitative notion such as redness (or any other colour) has no place in this explanatory schema, except in so far as state ments about its presence in an object can be reduced to statements about that obj ect's size, shape and motion (to this account Descartes adds the further fact that when an obj ect of this kind interacts with our sense organs, 36 COMMENTS ON A CERTAIN BROADSHEET we will have a colour-sensation of a characteristic kind).
This document is the result of a meeting held on 1 6 April 1 648 between Descartes and the young Dutchman Frans Burman. Burman came to interview Descartes (who was living at the time at Egmond Binnen, near Alkmaar) , and questioned him closely about a large number of passages in the Meditations, Principles of Philosophy and Discourse. He took full notes of Descartes' replies, and the result is what purports to be a verbatim report of the interview. Through the efforts of Burman's friend, the young philosopher John Clauberg (later to publish several works on Descartes) , a copy of the manuscript was preserved; it was not, however, until the end of the nineteenth century that the work was first published.
In keeping with its simplicity, Descartes' universe is perfectly homogeneous: somewhat in the manner of the 'perfect cosmological principle' proposed by some present-day astronomers, Descartes suggests that the application of the basic laws of physics yields a universe which is always and everywhere perfectly regular and uniform. Thus, even if one were to suppose an initially chaotic configura tion of matter, 'the laws of nature are sufficient to cause the parts of the chaos to disentangle themselves and arrange themselves in such good order that they will have the form of a quite perfect world' (AT XI 34: CSM I 9 1 ).