@azh   4 months ago visitor: 219   follow: 0   favorite: 0

Cartesian Philosophy

  • Won over Aristotelian philosophy until it was brought down by Newton, mostly cosmologically

    • Descartes thought that comets travelled an irregular path through the heavens you can describe mechanistically

    • However, Halley’s comet was too regular: every 70ish years

    • Its return in 1759 was predicted using Newton’s theories which sealed the deal

  • Growing positive reaction: 1640s - onwards

    • Held in high esteem in the 1640s, although he wasn’t widely known

    • Really picked up in the 1660s among the French aristocracy

  • Pushback from the establishment around 1662-1671

    • Leuven, the Sorbonne condemned it

    • Professors had been teaching Aristotelian ideas for centuries so they were unhappy about having to change

    • They even put Descartes’s works on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum

    • In the end, this pushback was unsuccessful because everyone adopted it

  • The Cartesian breakthrough: 1660s onwards

    • The Royal Society of Sciences was a stronghold of Cartesian thought

    • Bernard de Fontenelle, Secretary of the Royal Society was a diehard Descartes fanboy

  • The British Attack–Newton, Halley, Locke: 1687 onwards

    • Cartesianism was phased out in Britain first

    • Newton’s mathematical approach won out, largely because his cosmology was next-level

    • Cartesian vortices are problematic because the motions of comets are too regular

    • Even though it didn’t strike at the core of the Cartesian system, this reflected badly on it as a whole

    • Same thing happened to Aristotle

    • Newton thought the Earth was oblate, but Descartes thought it was melon-shaped

    • Voltaire: Everyone’s discourse is on Descartes vs. Newton; Descartes wrote an essay, Newton wrote a masterpiece, but Descartes led us towards truth first

    • Him and Madame du Chatelet did the ideas and the mathematical heavy work respectively to promote and understand Newton

    • Maupertius went on expeditions to Ecuador and Sweden to see if the Earth was flat or not

    • Discovered that it was as Newton thought it would be

  • Later, Spinoza would take the wheel