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Descartes: A Biography

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Although Ren� Descartes' (1596-1650) is best remembered today for writing I think, therefore, I am, his unique contribution to the history of ideas was his effort to construct a philosophy that would be sympathetic to the new sciences that emerged in the seventeenth century. In four major publications, he fashioned a philosophical system that accommodated the needs of thes Although Ren� Descartes' (1596-1650) is best remembered today for writing I think, therefore, I am, his unique contribution to the history of ideas was his effort to construct a philosophy that would be sympathetic to the new sciences that emerged in the seventeenth century. In four major publications, he fashioned a philosophical system that accommodated the needs of these new sciences, thereby earning the unrelenting hostility of both Catholic and Calvinist theologians, who relied on the scholastic philosophy that Descartes hoped to replace. His contemporaries claimed that his proofs of God's existence, in the Meditations, were so unsuccessful that he must have been a cryptic atheist, and that his discussion of skepticism served merely to fan the flames of libertinism. Although Descartes died in Stockholm in obscurity, he soon became one of the most famous philosophers of the seventeenth century, a status that he continues to enjoy today. This English-language biography addresses the complete range of Descartes' interests in theology, philosophy, and the sciences, and traces his intellectual development throughout his entire career. Desmond M. Clarke is Professor of Philosophy at University College Cork, Ireland, where he previously served as Dean of Arts and Vice-President. He is author of a number of books on Descartes and the seventeenth century, including Descartes' Philosophy of Science (1982), Occult Powers & Hypotheses (1989) and Descartes' Theory of Mind (1993). He has translated two selections of Descartes' writings and has also translated La Forge's Treatise on the Human Mind (1997) and Poulain de la Barre's The Equality of the Sexes.


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Although Ren� Descartes' (1596-1650) is best remembered today for writing I think, therefore, I am, his unique contribution to the history of ideas was his effort to construct a philosophy that would be sympathetic to the new sciences that emerged in the seventeenth century. In four major publications, he fashioned a philosophical system that accommodated the needs of thes Although Ren� Descartes' (1596-1650) is best remembered today for writing I think, therefore, I am, his unique contribution to the history of ideas was his effort to construct a philosophy that would be sympathetic to the new sciences that emerged in the seventeenth century. In four major publications, he fashioned a philosophical system that accommodated the needs of these new sciences, thereby earning the unrelenting hostility of both Catholic and Calvinist theologians, who relied on the scholastic philosophy that Descartes hoped to replace. His contemporaries claimed that his proofs of God's existence, in the Meditations, were so unsuccessful that he must have been a cryptic atheist, and that his discussion of skepticism served merely to fan the flames of libertinism. Although Descartes died in Stockholm in obscurity, he soon became one of the most famous philosophers of the seventeenth century, a status that he continues to enjoy today. This English-language biography addresses the complete range of Descartes' interests in theology, philosophy, and the sciences, and traces his intellectual development throughout his entire career. Desmond M. Clarke is Professor of Philosophy at University College Cork, Ireland, where he previously served as Dean of Arts and Vice-President. He is author of a number of books on Descartes and the seventeenth century, including Descartes' Philosophy of Science (1982), Occult Powers & Hypotheses (1989) and Descartes' Theory of Mind (1993). He has translated two selections of Descartes' writings and has also translated La Forge's Treatise on the Human Mind (1997) and Poulain de la Barre's The Equality of the Sexes.

30 review for Descartes: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Το Άθχημο γατί του θενιόρ Γκουαναμίρου

    Ο Descartes κατάφερε το αδιανόητο: Να πει κάτι, υποστηρίζοντας το ακριβώς αντίθετο. Να υπονομεύσει το status quo υποστηρίζοντάς το. Να παραμένει αφανής βγαίνοντας στο προσκήνιο. Ήταν ένας πολύ λογικός άνθρωπος που έζησε μέσα σε έναν εξαιρετικά παράλογο κόσμο. Έναν κόσμο στον οποίο τα αποκλειστικά δικαιώματα διαχείρισης της γνώσης ανήκαν πρωτίστως στον ανώτερο κλήρο και του οποίου οι νόμοι και οι λειτουργίες, έτσι όπως εξάγονταν από τις επιστημονικές παρατηρήσεις έρχονταν σε σύγκρουση με τις επικ Ο Descartes κατάφερε το αδιανόητο: Να πει κάτι, υποστηρίζοντας το ακριβώς αντίθετο. Να υπονομεύσει το status quo υποστηρίζοντάς το. Να παραμένει αφανής βγαίνοντας στο προσκήνιο. Ήταν ένας πολύ λογικός άνθρωπος που έζησε μέσα σε έναν εξαιρετικά παράλογο κόσμο. Έναν κόσμο στον οποίο τα αποκλειστικά δικαιώματα διαχείρισης της γνώσης ανήκαν πρωτίστως στον ανώτερο κλήρο και του οποίου οι νόμοι και οι λειτουργίες, έτσι όπως εξάγονταν από τις επιστημονικές παρατηρήσεις έρχονταν σε σύγκρουση με τις επικρατούσες θεολογικές διδασκαλίες. Πιο συγκεκριμένα, η Εκκλησία στα χρόνια του Descartes: 1. Αποτελεί τον βασικό εκπαιδευτικό φορέα της Ευρώπης. 2. Εθελοτυφλεί μπροστά στα νέα επιστημονικά δεδομένα. 3. Χρησιμοποιεί την ξεπερασμένη σχολαστική μέθοδο και ερμηνεύει τα φυσικά φαινόμενα χρησιμοποιώντας απηρχαιωμένες πηγές (θρησκευτικά κείμενα και αρχαίους φιλοσόφους). 4. Επιβάλλει λογοκρισία και ποινές σε όσους της εναντιώνονται. 5. Βρίσκεται διασπασμένη λόγω των συνεχών θρησκευτικών ερίδων γεγονός που την οδηγεί σε περαιτέρω ριζοσπαστικοποίηση. Όταν μιλάμε για νέα επιστημονικά δεδομένα, στον 17ο αιώνα, δεν εννοούμε αυτό που ισχύει σήμερα. Η διαχωριστική γραμμή ανάμεσα στον μάγο, τον αλχημιστή, τον τσαρλατάνο και τον γιατρό, τον μαθηματικό και τον αστρονόμο, ανάμεσα στον θεολόγο και τον φιλόσοφο απλώς δεν υπήρχε: It was particularly difficult during these years to distinguish between genuine advances in knowledge and the claims of soothsayers and mystics who exploited the general climate of uncertainty to further their dubious ambitions. The line of demarcation between the two that we might wish to project back into history was simply not there, and the ease with which authors oscillated from one to the other requires explanation only to those who look back from today’s perspective (σελ. 75). Όταν ο Descartes πληροφορείται στα 1633 για την καταδίκη του Γαλιλαίου, ο οποίος υποστήριζε την κίνηση της Γης γύρω από τον Ήλιο, συνειδητοποιεί πως είναι αδύνατον να προχωρήσει στη δημοσίευση της δικής του επιστημονικής έρευνας καθώς και τα δικά του συμπεράσματα έκλιναν προς την ίδια κατεύθυνση. Πρέπει να σωπάσει. Να κάψει ή να κρύψει τα χειρόγραφά του. Ή πρέπει να βρει έναν τρόπο για να πει όσα θέλει χωρίς να προκαλέσει το μένος της Εκκλησίας. Άλλωστε μεγάλωσε σε κολέγιο Ιησουιτών. Διδάχτηκε τη διγλωσσία από τους καλύτερους και ήξερε πώς να βαφτίζει το κρέας ψάρι. I had planned to send you my World as a New Year’s gift.... But I should tell you that, having inquired recently in Leiden and Amsterdam whether Galileo’s System of the World [i.e., Dialogue] was available, since I thought I had heard that it was published in Italy last year, I was told that it had been published but that all the copies were immediately burned in Rome and that he had been fined. This surprised me so much that I more or less decided to burn all my papers, or at least not to allow them to be seen by anyone. For I could not imagine that, as an Italian and even, I have heard, someone who is in the good graces of the Pope, he could have been convicted for nothing more than attempting, as he surely did, to establish the earth’s movement....I acknowledge that, if that is false, then so are all the foundations of my physics, because it is easily demonstrated from them. It is so connected with all the parts of my treatise, that I could not detach it from them without undermining everything that remains (σελ. 112). Ο Descartes προτείνει τόσο στους Ιησουίτες όσο και στην Σορβόννη μια διέξοδο γιατί κατανοεί πως όσο θα πληθαίνουν τα επιστημονικά δεδομένα τόσο θα δυναμώνουν και θα πληθαίνουν οι φωνές ενάντια στην Εκκλησιαστική παντοδυναμία. Συγκεκριμένα προτείνει: 1. Μια ατελή επιστημονική μέθοδο που μπορεί να βελτιώνεται και να εξελίσσεται και είναι προτιμότερη από μια εμμονική επιμονή σε άκαμπτες δογματικές διδασκαλίες οι οποίες οδηγούν σε λανθασμένη ερμηνεία του φυσικού κόσμου. 2. Έναν προσωρινό διαχωρισμό ανάμεσα στον άνθρωπο ως σκεπτόμενο ον, του οποίου η Σκέψη δεν είναι κάτι το υλικό άρα δεν είναι υποχρεωμένη να υπόκειται τους φυσικούς νόμους και τον άνθρωπο ως υλικό ον πως ως τέτοιο αποτελεί τμήμα του φυσικού κόσμου, μέχρι να συγκεντρωθούν ικανοποιητικά ευρήματα για τις ψυχοσωματικές λειτουργίες και ιδιότητες του ανθρώπινου όντος. Και στις δύο περιπτώσεις η Εκκλησία αν επιλέξει την Καρτεσιανή μέθοδο δεν θα κινδυνεύει να γίνει ουραγός στον τομέα των επιστημονικών εξελίξεων και να χάσει πολύτιμες πανεπιστημιακές έδρες μαζί με την επιρροή της (συνεπακόλουθα οι επιστήμονες θα μπορούν ελεύθεροι να μελετούν και να αποφαίνονται περί τον φυσικών φαινομένων) και επίσης η θεολογία της δεν κινδυνεύει από τυχόν σκεπτικιστές και αμφισβητίες καθώς τα πνευματικά, νοητικά, ψυχικά φαινόμενα θα βρίσκονται στον χώρο του άυλου και μέσω του στοχασμού/σκέψης θα επιβεβαιώνονται οι περί θεού και αθανασίας της ψυχής ιδέες. Φυσικά καμία πλευρά δεν επρόκειτο να ανεχτεί την καινοφανή μέθοδό του: Descartes conceded that he was equally distrusted by both Catholics and Calvinists. ‘The Huguenots hate me as a papist, and those of Rome do not like me because they think I am entangled in the heresy of the earth’s movement (σελ. 180). Και στην πορεία, όπως ήταν αναπόφευκτο, αναμείχθηκε και ο ίδιος σε αρκετές έριδες και αντιδικίες τόσο με τους Καθολικούς όσο και με τους Προτεστάντες. Άλλαζε συνέχεια τόπο κατοικίας, πέρασε το μεγαλύτερο μέρος της ζωή του στις Κάτω Χώρες όπου υπήρχε μια σχετική ανοχή και ελευθερία, εστίασε τις προσπάθειές του στο να αποκτήσει ισχυρές πολιτικές διασυνδέσεις και αφοσιωμένους υποστηρικτές και φρόντιζε σε κάθε περίσταση να διατείνεται πως είναι υπερασπιστής της Εκκλησίας και πως η μέθοδός του είναι απλώς ένας διαφορετικός τρόπος για να φτάσουν οι θεολόγοι στα ίδια συμπεράσματα στα οποία κατέληγαν ακολουθώντας την ατελέστερη και ξεπερασμένη σχολαστική φιλοσοφία: This was a ruse that Descartes often used. He wrote two letters together, one for a trusted correspondent to whom he revealed what he really thought about something, and the other accompanying letter to be passed on to someone else as his pretended or official position (σελ. 196). Και προπαντός. Κάθε φορά που κάποιος κατέληγε ακολουθώντας την Καρτεσιανή θεωρία σε ένα συμπέρασμα που ερχόταν σε αντίθεση με το θρησκευτικό του δόγμα, ο Descartes φρόντιζε είτε να τον απομακρύνει από τον κύκλο του, με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες, είτε να διαρρηγνύει τα ιμάτιά του παραπονούμενος δημοσίως και μεγαλοφώνως πως δεν τον καταλαβαίνουν και πως τον έχουν παρεξηγήσει. All this suggested that Cartesian metaphysics was, in some sense, inconsistent with the general philosophical framework within which it was developed and that its author actually believed in private the opposite of what he published (σελ. 314). Για τον Descartes ο θεός είναι παντοδύναμος αλλά δεν δρα στον κόσμο, οι άνθρωποι κάνουν ελεύθερες επιλογές αλλά ο Θεός είναι η αιτία που καθορίζει τα πάντα και μέσα από αυτές τις αντιφάσεις καταφέρνει να σπάσει τα νεύρα των θεολόγων και παράλληλα να ελευθερώσει τους επιστήμονες οι οποίοι μπορούσαν ελεύθεροι πλέον να αναζητήσουν μια ερμηνεία της φύσης μέσα από την ύλη και την κίνηση. Ο θεός υπάρχει και είναι απείρως καλός αλλά δεν μας είναι απαραίτητος προκειμένου ερμηνεύσουμε τα φυσικά φαινόμενα και να κατανοήσουμε τον κόσμο: Thus, if the Bible suggests that the Earth does not move, such texts should be understood as meaning that, when described from the perspective of people who live on the Earth, it does not move in relation to its immediate environment. However, the Bible was not intended to teach astronomy (σελ. 413). Ο καημένος ο Descartes στην προσπάθειά του να αποδώσει τα του Καίσαρος τω Καίσαρι και τα του Θεού τω Θεώ το έπαθε σαν την υπηρέτρια του στρατηγού που της περίσσεψε ένα καντηλέρι και πηγαινοερχόταν μονολογώντας "πού να το βάλω αυτό το καντηλέρι, πού να το βάλω αυτό το καντηλέρι" οπότε έντρομος ο στρατηγός γυρνάει στους φαντάρους του και τους προλαβαίνει πριν αυτοί να της απαντήσουν: "Όποιος της πει πού να το βάλει το καντηλέρι, θα έχει τριάντα μέρες φυλακή!".

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alp Turgut

    Rene Descartes’ın hayatından geçen önemli olayları oldukça güzel bir dille okuyucuya sunan Clarke’ın "Descartes" eseri, kavgacı, yalnız ama çağının çok ötesinde olan ünlü filozofun kartezyen felsefesini hayatıyla entegre bir şekilde okuyucuya sunuyor. Ebeveynleri olmadan büyütülen ve özel hayatıyla ilgili fazla bir yaşanmışlığı olmayan Descartes’ın Galileo’nun başına gelenler sebebiyle düşüncelerini açıklamadan her zaman çekinerek hayatını bitirmesi kitabın odak noktasında bulunuyor. Devrim nite Rene Descartes’ın hayatından geçen önemli olayları oldukça güzel bir dille okuyucuya sunan Clarke’ın "Descartes" eseri, kavgacı, yalnız ama çağının çok ötesinde olan ünlü filozofun kartezyen felsefesini hayatıyla entegre bir şekilde okuyucuya sunuyor. Ebeveynleri olmadan büyütülen ve özel hayatıyla ilgili fazla bir yaşanmışlığı olmayan Descartes’ın Galileo’nun başına gelenler sebebiyle düşüncelerini açıklamadan her zaman çekinerek hayatını bitirmesi kitabın odak noktasında bulunuyor. Devrim niteliğindeki düşüncelerini korkusu sebebiyle skolastik felsefeye benzer bir şekilde açıklamaya çalışan ünlü filozofun kendi memleketinden ayrılıp yıllarca Hollanda’da yaşaması da zamanın şartlarını ortaya koyar nitelikte. Güneş merkezli güneş sistemini Galileo’dan bir tık önce bulmasına rağmen ölümünden sonra ortaya çıkan ilk eseri "Dünya"nın yanı sıra oldukça meşhur "Meditasyonlar" ve "İlkeler" kitaplarını analiz ederek okucuyuya sunan eser ünlü filozofu daha iyi anlamak için kesinlikle okunması gereken eserlerden biri. Zaman zaman Hobbes’la olan tartışmalarını da okuma şansı bulduğumuz eserin sonlarına doğru sahneye giren Pascal ise bu kitaptan sonra hangi yazarı okumanız gerektiğinin işaretini veriyor. Kartezyen felsefenin temelinde bulunan “Düşünüyorum; öyleyse varım.” sözüyle beden ile ruhun birbirinden ayrı olmasına rağmen beyin ile etkiletişime geçtiğini belirten Descartes, metafizikten sıyrılıp daha rasyonel bir düşünceyi öne çıkarması doğal olarak beraberinde kilise suçlamalarını da getiriyor. Hobbes’un aksine inzivada bir hayat geçiren ve değeri sonradan anlaşılan Descartes’ın hayatı belki çok mucizevi şeyler barındırmıyor, ama yaşadıkları insanlığın kat ettiği yol konusunda etkileyici bilgiler barındırıyor. 23.06.2018 İstanbul Türkiye Alp Turgut http://www.filmdoktoru.com/kitap-labo...

  3. 4 out of 5

    E.

    A very thorough biography that did help me better understand Descartes, which will hopefully bear fruit in my teaching. The downside of this book is that it spends a great deal of time in minute details of Descartes' movements and correspondence where a less detailed but more thematic (and shorter) overview would have been sufficient for my needs. But some thorough bio like this does need to exist. The most surprising discovery for me was the speculation on Descartes' sexual orientation. The gay A very thorough biography that did help me better understand Descartes, which will hopefully bear fruit in my teaching. The downside of this book is that it spends a great deal of time in minute details of Descartes' movements and correspondence where a less detailed but more thematic (and shorter) overview would have been sufficient for my needs. But some thorough bio like this does need to exist. The most surprising discovery for me was the speculation on Descartes' sexual orientation. The gay community can grasp onto the slightest rumors to consider whether some prominent historical person was gay or bi, but I had never heard Descartes mentioned. But Clarke's speculation, always very sober, was persuasively of at least the possibility.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ozgur Senogul

    Descartes gibi matematik, fizik ve en önemlisi felsefe alanında çığır açmış birisi için fazlaca sönük, konsantrasyonunu Descartes'ın etkin olduğu bilimsel konulardan ziyade çok da renkli olmayan sosyal hayatı ile merkezlemiş bir kitap. Açıkçası böyle bir bilim adamının bu dünyaya katkılarını başka pencerelerden göstermek, okuyucuya daha çok katkıda bulunurdu. Kitapta bahsi geçen 'Kartezyen Tarikatı'nı çok memnun edecek bir kitap değil. Descartes gibi matematik, fizik ve en önemlisi felsefe alanında çığır açmış birisi için fazlaca sönük, konsantrasyonunu Descartes'ın etkin olduğu bilimsel konulardan ziyade çok da renkli olmayan sosyal hayatı ile merkezlemiş bir kitap. Açıkçası böyle bir bilim adamının bu dünyaya katkılarını başka pencerelerden göstermek, okuyucuya daha çok katkıda bulunurdu. Kitapta bahsi geçen 'Kartezyen Tarikatı'nı çok memnun edecek bir kitap değil.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mehmet Yorulmaz

    Maybe Descartes' life was boring or we don't have enough detail about his life/personality or maybe the author had a dull style; whatever the reason, this book was very uninspiring, superficial. I could not manage to get into Descartes' head, grasp his personality, understand his main views, achievements. If you still want to read this book, I recommend you to skim it, not read it line by line. Maybe Descartes' life was boring or we don't have enough detail about his life/personality or maybe the author had a dull style; whatever the reason, this book was very uninspiring, superficial. I could not manage to get into Descartes' head, grasp his personality, understand his main views, achievements. If you still want to read this book, I recommend you to skim it, not read it line by line.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Very detailed. I scanned.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Craig Bolton

    Descartes: A Biography by Desmond M. Clarke (2006)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rizvan Jaldeen

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter Haik

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael Roth

  12. 4 out of 5

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  13. 4 out of 5

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  14. 5 out of 5

    John

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gary Demers

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  18. 4 out of 5

    Morleymor

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ender

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ioana

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bruno Oliveira

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adil Kocabaş

  24. 4 out of 5

    Raimundo Cox

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel1974nlgmail.com

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amirhossein

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yusuf Duran

  28. 4 out of 5

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  29. 4 out of 5

    John

  30. 4 out of 5

    Luca Malatesti

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