Introduction: Problems of Descartes and the Scientific Revolution

  • John SchusterEmail author
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 27)


This chapter defines the scope of the work and some of the obstacles to accomplishing it: This volume reconstructs key aspects of the early career of Descartes from 1618 to 1633; that is, up through the point of his composing his first system of natural philosophy, Le Monde, 1629–1633. The overlapping and intertwined development of Descartes’ projects in physico-mathematics, analytical mathematics, universal method, and, finally, systematic corpuscular-mechanical natural philosophy, are the main topics. However, the conceptual and technical content of these projects is always examined in the contexts of Descartes’ agendas for them, and his construction and presentation of his intellectual identity in relation to them. The problems Descartes has posed to historians of science are canvassed, in particular, difficulties arising from his claims about his method, and from scholars’ failure properly to understand the field of natural philosophy in which he worked. The nature of scientific biography is also discussed, along with its relation to wider forms of historical analysis. The Chapter ends with a summary of the content of each of the following 12 chapters.


Early Career Scientific Revolution Universal Method Natural Philosophize Virtual Peer 
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Works of Descartes and Their Abbreviations

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  6. HR  =  The Philosophical Works of Descartes, vol I translated by E.S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross (Cambridge, 1968 [1st ed. 1911]).Google Scholar


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Campion CollegeSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Unit for History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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