Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes and in his Reception, Edited by Delphine Antoine-Mahut, Sophie Roux, Routledge, 2018.

This volume explores the relationship between physics and metaphysics in Descartes’ philosophy. According to the standard account, Descartes modified the objects of metaphysics and physics and inverted the order in which these two disciplines were traditionally studied. This book challenges the standard account in which Descartes prioritizes metaphysics over physics. It does so by taking into consideration the historical reception of Descartes and the ways in which Descartes himself reacted to these receptions in his own lifetime. The book stresses the diversity of these receptions by taking into account not only Cartesianisms but also anti-Cartesianisms, and by showing how they retroactively highlighted different aspects of Descartes’ works and theoretical choices. The historical aspect of the volume is unique in that it not only analyzes different constructions of Descartes that emerged in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, but also reflects on how his work was first read by philosophers across Europe. Taken together, the essays in this volume offer a fresh and up-to-date contribution to this important debate in early modern philosophy.

Table of Contents


Delphine Antoine-Mahut and Sophie Roux

Part I. Historiography

1.First Philosophy, Metaphysics and Physics: The Implications of Order in Cartesian and in the Enlightenment Philosophy

Mariafranca Spallanzani

2. To Replant and Unroot: Typology of the Cartesian Tree of Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century French Histories of Philosophy

Delphine Antoine-Mahut

3. Between Fake, Unfortunate, and Actual Dependence: The Tumultuous Relationships of Descartes’ Physics and Metaphysics in the First Half of Twentieth-Century History and Philosophy of Science

Delphine Bellis

Part II. Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes’ Time

4. Ontology and the Place of Metaphysics: Taurellus, Gorlaeus, Regius and Descartes

Christoph Lüthy

5. Strange Bedfellows: Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes

Emanuela Scribano

6. Descartes, A Priori Knowledge, and Metaphysics

Desmond M. Clarke

7. A Deflationist Solution to the Problem of Force in Descartes

Sophie Roux

Part III. European Recceptions

8. Duplex intellectus et sermo duplex: Method and the separation of disciplines in Johannes De Raey

Antonella Del Prete

9. The Materialist Reception of the Cartesian Physics in Naples

Pierre Girard

10. Physics in the broad senseBoyle, Newton and the Baconian metaphysical physics

Philippe Hamou

11. Continuous Creation, Occasionalism and Persistence: Leibniz on Bayle

Jean-Pascal Anfray

12. Sticking to the Middle Course. Intellectual ethics and scientific practice in Leibniz’s metaphysical physics

Mogens Lærke