The Fortunes of Cartesianism
There are, then, two ways of looking at the origins of the Enlightenment: from the point of view of its method of investigation, or from that of the problems it found needed investigating and the conditions it felt needed changing. The philosophical chicken did not, of course, precede the social egg. It is nevertheless convenient to look at it first, for whereas we can pick up most of the threads of the French social situation by beginning in the 1680s, to understand the geometric spirit we need to go back, if only briefly, to Descartes.
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