Descartes Agonistes

John A. Schuster’s Research, Textbooks, Reviews and Occasional Pieces on the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Scientific Knowledge.

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Move to University of Sydney and Forthcoming Publications

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Update: 9 March 2012. I officially retired from the University of New South Wales in March 2011. My research, writing and publishing activities have subsequently been conducted in conjunction with the University of Sydney, as an honorary fellow of the Unit for History & Philosophy of Science, and as a member of the history of early modern science research team in the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science. I have also been named an Honorary Fellow of Campion College, the only private liberal arts college in Australia.

From now on it is best to use the following email address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

News on recent and forthcoming publications:

I am delighted to report that Descartes Agonistes: Physico-mathematics, Method and Mechanism 1618-1633 will be published in its full and unexpurgated form by Springer within calendar 2012. It will be roughly 650 pages; 13 chapters and 2 appendices with 72 diagrams and illustrations.

The open access textbook on this site, "The Scientific Revolution" has been extensively revised in preparation for its translation into Chinese by Professor An Weifu and its publication by the Shanghai Scientific and Technical Educational Publishers.  Anyone wishing access to the revised chapters in their English forms should contact me directly. The chapters on this site have not yet been updated. Publication of the Chinese version is imminent.

Further news: 27 May 2012. Nine more items have been placed on the site, 7 in 'research' and 1 each in 'conferences and seminars' and 'book reviews'.  They are

John A. Schuster, “Physico-Mathematics and the Search for Causes in Descartes’ Optics”,  appeared online in Synthèse, December 2011, and was published in that journal in April 2012. This was part of a 'Thematic Section' on 'seeing the causes in Baroque Optics' and should have had a Section Introduction. I have completed a draft of what that introduction might have looked like, extrapolating from an earlier draft by Ofer Gal, who conceived and oversaw the 'Baroque Optics' project. That draft introduction is now posted.

John A. Schuster and Judit Brody, “Descartes and Sunspots: Matters of Fact and Systematising Strategies in the Principia Philosophiae” has been published on line by Annals of Science and will appear in hard copy form, January 2013.

For the Descartes Lexicon (CUP) ed. Lawrence Nolan: articles ‘Hydrostatics’, ‘Physico-Mathematics’, ‘Light’, ‘Vortices’  and ‘Magnetism’. We expect the Lexicon to appear in the next year to 18 months.

For the Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics (OUP), eds. Jed Buchwald and Robert Fox, chapter, “Cartesian Physics”. We expect the Handbook to appear in the next year to 18 months.

John A. Schuster, “What was the Relation of Baroque Culture to the Trajectory of Early Modern Natural Philosophy” to appear later in 2012 in Archives internationales d’histoire des idees, volume, edited by O.Gal and R. Chen-Morris, as part of the Sydney University, HPS Unit, Baroque Science Project they led.

John A. Schuster, “Consuming and Appropriating Practical Mathematics and the Mixed Mathematical Fields, or Being “Influenced” by Them: The Case of the Young Descartes”, originally intended for Lesley Cormack, ed. Mathematical Practitioners and the Transformation of Natural Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, Chicago University Press. The project has been shelved, but the paper has been posted.

A Review Essay on H. Floris Cohen's latest work on the emergence of modern science in early modern Europe. It has appeared on line in Metascience, but I have posted here a slightly longer version.

An experimental conference paper on Bruno Latour as an historian.




Last Updated on Sunday, 27 May 2012 07:55

About This Website

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“Descartes Agonistes”

John A. Schuster’s Research, Textbooks, Reviews and Occasional Pieces on the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

Categories of materials that will progressively be posted on this website over the next few months.

1. Open Access Textbooks

Originally written for Open Learning Australia Consortium

John A. Schuster, The Scientific Revolution: Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science
John A. Schuster, An Introduction to the History and Social Studies of Science

2. Key Research Outputs:

a. Scientific Revolution: History and Historiography

b. Scientific Method as Mythic Speech and its Uses

c. Origins, so-called of Experimental Science[s]

d. Descartes’ Natural Philosophical Career

3. Research in Process and in Press

4. Book Reviews

5. Occasional Pieces: Seminars, Conferences, Speeches

6. Information about, and Sample Material from, Forthcoming Book

John A. Schuster, Descartes Agonistes: Physico-Mathematics, Method and Corpuscular-Mechanism, 1618-33


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