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Radical EnlightenmentPhilosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750$
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Jonathan I. Israel

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206088.001.0001

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The Collapse of Cartesianism

The Collapse of Cartesianism

(p.477) 25 The Collapse of Cartesianism
Radical Enlightenment

Jonathan I. Israel

Oxford University Press

A discerning observer of the world of learning, contemplating Europe's war of philosophies in 1700, might well have concluded that Cartesianism and its offshoot, Malebranchisme, were most strongly placed to win and, sponsored by governments and Churches, to construct a new general hegemony of ideas in Europe's culture. Yet of the three rival versions of moderate, mainstream Early Enlightenment — Neo-Cartesianism, Newtonianism, and Leibnizian-Wolffianism, that which in 1700 appeared most formidable, and enjoyed the widest support amongst Europe's ruling elites — Cartesianism rapidly proved the most precarious intellectually and was the first to collapse under the strain of escalating philosophical and scientific strife. Many of Europe's acutest minds discarded Cartesianism during the opening years of the new century.

Keywords:   Cartesianism, Early Enlightenment, philosophy, Malebranchisme, Neo-Cartesianism, Newtonianism, Leibnizian-Wolffianism

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