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Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy Volume VI$
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Daniel Garber and Donald Rutherford

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199659593

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199659593.001.0001

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Review Essay

Review Essay

Descartes on Forms and Mechanisms

Helen Hattab

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Descartes’s Changing Mind

Peter Machamer and J. E. McGuire

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009)

Chapter:
(p.349) 11 Review Essay
Source:
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy Volume VI
Author(s):

Tad M. Schmaltz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199659593.003.0011

This chapter is a critical review of two recently published works on Descartes: Helen Hattab’s Descartes on Forms and Mechanisms and Peter Machamer and J.E. McGuire’s Descartes’s Changing Mind. Both works reflect the recent trend in Descartes scholarship to focus on Descartes’s writings on natural philosophy and to emphasize developments in these writings over time. The discussion of Hattab considers her central claim that whereas in his earlier writings Descartes offered an argument against the material substantial forms of the scholastics that is grounded in his mechanics, during the 1640s he settled instead on a metaphysical argument against such forms that reflects the influence of the Dutch atomist Gorlaeus. The discussion of Machacher and McGuire considers their central claim that Descartes’s account both of causation in the physical world and of the epistemic status of our claims about this world underwent a radical shift around the time of the Meditations.

Keywords:   causation, René Descartes, David Gorlaeus, Helen Hattab, Peter Machamer, J. E. Mcguire, mechanics, metaphysics, natural philosophy, Franciscus Suárez, forms, substantial

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