Descartes and the English
That Descartes’s philosophy was a major factor in the English intellectual landscape of the second half of the seventeenth century is accepted. As we shall see, there is also considerable agreement on when and where that influence first made itself felt. Yet there still remain problems as to how we are to understand that impact. To begin with the broad and crude picture of the development of English thought in the period, for all the qualifications which we would want to urge, for all the possibility of underlining rationalist tendencies in Locke and Newton, in the last analysis Voltaire and everybody else was right to see great differences between Cartesian philosophy and that of the dominant English view of the early eighteenth century. And yet, as we shall see, Cartesian influence can be found in all branches of English thought, in philosophy, theology, and at every turn in the wide spread of the natural sciences, in mathematics, in music and in medicine.
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Inertial Motion Teleological Explanation Philosophical Writing Early Eighteenth Century
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