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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News May 2014

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Posted 13 March 2017: the penultimate pre-publication version of my paper, ‘Pierre Duhem and Alistair Crombie Revisited: Or, How to Recover the Formative Role of Medieval Catholic Natural Philosophizing in the Rise of Modern Science’ Connor Court Quarterly No.5/6 December 2012, pp.167-182 The paper is an experiment in historiography. It explores what, if anything, can today be usefully retrieved from the Medieval-centric ‘continuist’ historiographies of the rise of Modern Science of Pierre Duhen and Alistair Crombie, by making use of my own preferred categories and approaches to the problem. The title page explains why and for whom it was written.

Posted 1 March 2017, as promised: John A.Schuster, ‘Did Descartes Teach a Philosophy of Science, or Implement Strategies of Natural Philosophical Explanation?’ in S. Gaukroger and C. Wilson (eds.) Descartes and Cartesianism: Essays in Honor of Desmond Clark (OUP), pp. 3-25. This paper is of interest to those interested in the Cartesian scholarship of Desmond Clarke, Gerd Buchdahl and others, and more particularly an exercise in dissecting Descartes’ working procedures in trying to systemize his natural philosophy, as compared to seeking to unearth the ‘philosophy of science’ that guided, or not, Descartes’ ‘science’. On Clarke, see also in the ‘Book Reviews’ Section my essay review of Clarke’s biography of Descartes.

Posted mid 2016

[1] final pre-publication version of J.A.Schuster, ‘The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Following Koyré: The Younger Tom Kuhn, ‘Critical Historian’, on Tradition Dynamics and Big History’, to appear in R.Pisano and J.Agassi [eds.] Hommage to Alexandre Koyré, 1964-2014, Springer, Dordrecht, to appear later in 2016.

[2] review essay of James Marcum, Thomas Kuhn’s Revolutions, which has appeared on line at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. This version is slightly longer than the NDPR version .

In November 2015 I was elected a Fellow in the Australian Academy of the Humanities. I am a member of two of its Sections: 'Philosophy and History of Ideas' and 'History'.

In May 2015, Descartes-agonistes was subject of a productive and to me encouraging session of the Princeton/Paris ‘Seminaire Descartes’. I thank Denis Kamboucher for inviting me. Dan Garber, Roger Ariew and Sophie Roux were the commentators. We all look forward to being able to discuss Descartes’ Regulae in more detail when the so-called Cambridge ms. is finally released from the halls of the illuminati, to be placed before the wider public, including the ‘outsider’ experts who would appreciate a look at it before another 388 years roll by.

I know of four insightful and intelligent reviews of Descartes-agonistes. Indeed they are the only reviews I have ever seen:

John Henry, ‘review of Descartes-Agonistes’, Intellectual History Review 2013: 23:4, 586-589,

Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis, ‘Reworking Descartes’ mathesis universalisMetascience 23(3) 2014: 613-618.

Maria Rosa Massa Esteve, ‘review of Descartes-Agonistes’, Zentralblatt MATH Database 1931-2014; vol 1279.

Emily Thomas, ‘review of Descartes-agonistes’ Annals of Science 73:1 (2016):112-114

The only exception is a recent, rather pointless if innocuous review in Isis 107:1 (2016): 265-266.

The Cambridge Descartes Lexicon (CUP) has now appeared. I have six articles in it, five of which appear in pre-publication form in the Research Section below.

Sydney University contact email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Last Updated on Monday, 13 March 2017 01:37

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