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Descartes' Philosophy of Science
     

Descartes' Philosophy of Science

by Desmond M. Clarke
 

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This major new study of Descartes explores a number of key issues, including his use of experience and reason in science; the metaphysical foundations of Cartesian science; the Cartesian concept of explanation and proof; and an empiricist interpretation of the Regulae and the Discourse. Dr. Clarke argues that labels such as empiricism and rationalism

Overview

This major new study of Descartes explores a number of key issues, including his use of experience and reason in science; the metaphysical foundations of Cartesian science; the Cartesian concept of explanation and proof; and an empiricist interpretation of the Regulae and the Discourse. Dr. Clarke argues that labels such as empiricism and rationalism are useless for understanding Descartes because, at least in his scientific methodology, he is very much an Aristotelian for whom reflection on ordinary experience is the primary source of scientific hypotheses.

Descartes traditionally has been presented as a classic example of rationalism in science, especially by philosophers who concentrated their attention on the Meditations or the Discourse. A different perspective is gained by reading Descartes as a practicing scientist and by examining his scientific work and correspondence with other seventeenth-century scientists. These texts suggest that the author relies very much on experience, and in some cases on scientific experiments to support his theories or to dispute those of others. Descartes scientific practice is even consistent with a less rationalistic interpretation of the Regulae and the Discourse than is normally defended.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780271003252
Publisher:
Penn State University Press
Publication date:
12/01/1982
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.72(d)

Meet the Author

Desmond Clarke's articles have appeared in Isis, Philosophy of Science, and other journals. A member of the philosophy faculty at University College, Cork, he was awarded the PhD by the University of Notre Dame and also holds degrees from Lyon, Louvain, and the National University of Ireland.

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