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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Penultimate pre-publication version of J.A.Schuster, [1993] ‘Whatever Should We Do with Cartesian Method: Reclaiming Descartes for the History of Science” in Stephen Voss (ed.) Essays on the Philosophy and Science of René Descartes (OUP), pp. 195-223.  Now, with improved figures and final pagination added in brackets.

Penultimate pre-publication version of same in Experimental Inquiries: Historical, Philosophical and Social Studies of Experimentation in Science, H.E. Le Grand [ed], [1990] pp.1-48 Slightly longer, with some sub-section headings omitted in published version; pagination of published version entered in brackets.  Four pages of Bibliographical references omitted here, see published version, or separate document on this website.

Penultimate version of review essay John A. Schuster and Alan B.H. Taylor, 'Blind Trust: The Gentlemanly Origins of Experimental Science', Social Studies of Science 27 (1997) 503- 536

Penultimate version of published chapter: J.A. Schuster, "'Waterworld': Descartes' Vortical Celestial Mechanics--A Gambit in the Natural Philosophical Contest of the Early Seventeenth Century", pp.35-79 in Peter Anstey and John Schuster (eds.) The Science of Nature in the Seventeenth Century: Patterns of Change in Early Modern Natural Philosophy (Springer, 2005)  [pages in published version entered in brackets]

The penultimate pre-published version of J.A.Schuster, “Descartes Opticien: The Construction of the Law of Refraction and The Manufacture of its Physical Rationales 1618-1629”, which appeared in Stephen. Gaukroger, John A. Schuster and John. Sutton (eds.) Descartes' Natural Philosophy: Optics, Mechanics and Cosmology (Routledge, London, 2000), pp. 258-312. Final pagination inserted in brackets throughout. Section 5.2 mentions that the argument concerning the timing and manner of Descartes’ discovery of the (cosecant) law of refraction of light can be supported by the reconstruction of the genealogy of Descartes’ lens theory in the period 1627-37. That work has now been done in detail and is present elsewhere on this site, under Research in Progress, as the pre-publication posting of Appendix 1 of the ms. Descartes Agonistes—Physico-Mathematics, Method and Corpuscular Mechanism 1618-33, titled: “Descartes, Mydorge and Beeckman: The Evolution of Cartesian Lens Theory 1627-1637”


file icon Myth of Feminine Methodhot!Tooltip 05/23/2010 Hits: 2482

Evelleen Richards and John A Schuster, 'Feminine Method as Myth and Accounting Resource', Social Studies of Science 19 1989 697-720

As noted, the bibliographical references to Schuster and Watchirs: 'Natural Philosophy, Experiment and Discourse in the 18th Century--Beyond the Kuhn, Bachelard Problematic  (penultimate pre-publication text posted elsewhere in this section)

Gaukroger and Schuster: "The Hydrostatic Paradox and the Origins of Cartesian Dynamics", SHPS 33 2002, 535-572.

Penultimate version, prior to translation into Italian for publication as Chapter 27 in Daniel Garber, ed., L’Età della Rivoluzione Scientifica (Vol 5. of Storia della Scienza Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2002) pp. 337-357.  Intended title in English was, "The Organisation of Knowledge: The Grand Programs of Natural Philosophy and the Rise of Disciplinary Differentiation by the End of the Seventeenth Century" The Italian version contains some changes and additions and should be consulted.


This is the penultimate, pre-publication version, templated for ease of reading and printing. It will appear in an upcoming volume of the International Archives of the History of Ideas [Archives internationales d'histoire des idées.] (Springer), Science in the Age of the Baroque edited by Ofer Gal and Raz Chen-Morris. The entire volume will be devoted to papers emerging from the Baroque Science Project which the editors co–ordinated with Australian Research Council Funding at the Unit for HPS, University of Sydney.

The final pre-publication version of the chapter, “Cartesian Physics” commissioned for the Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics, edited by Jed Buchwald and Robert Fox, forthcoming.

Published in Synthese 185 (2012): 467-499, as part of a ‘Thematic Section’ on ‘seeing the causes in Baroque Optics’. See also the unpublished but intended Introduction to that ‘Thematic Section’ on this site. Final pre-publication version. Page numbers in published text in brackets in this text.

In April 2012 Synthese published a ‘Thematic Section’ of three papers dealing with ‘seeing the causes in Baroque Optics’ a part of the Baroque Science Project conducted between 2006 and 2009 by Ofer Gal, Raz Chen-Morris and colleagues in the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney These papers are: •Ofer Gal and Raz Chen-Morris, ‘Nature’s drawing: problems and resolutions in the mathematization of motion’, Synthese, 185 no.3 (2012): 429-466. •John A. Schuster, ‘Physico-mathematics and the search for causes in Descartes’ optics—1619–1637Synthese, 185 no. 3 (2012): 467-499. •Sven Dupré, ‘Kepler’s Optics without Hypotheses’, Synthese, 185 no.3 (2012): 501-525. The Thematic Section was supposed to be prefaced by an Introduction, linking the papers to each other and to the Baroque Optics research program. In the event it was not possible to provide the Introduction in the published volume of Synthese. However, John Schuster, elaborating an earlier draft by Ofer Gal, here introduces the papers in the Thematic Section.

This file contains the pre-publication versions of five short articles accepted for the Cambridge Descartes Lexicon, Edited by Lawrence Nolan, forthcoming: “Hydrostatics”, “Light”, “Magnetism”, Physico-mathematics” and “Vortex”

Originally written for inclusion in Lesley Cormack, ed. Mathematical practitioners and the transformation of natural knowledge in early modern Europe. This planned volume arose from a double symposium on this topic at the International Congress of the History of Science, Beijing, 2005. The project, pursued in conjunction with University of Chicago Press, fell through but has now been revived with Springer in their Studies in HPS Series. The volume is now edited by Lesley Cormack, Steven Walton and John A. Schuster, to appear later in 2016

The final pre-publication version of this paper; published on line, Annals of Science, iFirst April 2012, DOI: 10.1080/00033790.2012.669703. Hard copy publication is set for Annals of Science 70 no.1 Jan 2013.

This is the final pre-publication version of this paper, to appear in R.Pisano and J.Agassi [eds.] Hommage to Alexandre Koyré, 1964-2014, Springer, Dordrecht.

This is the penultimate pre-publication version of John A. Schuster, “Did Descartes Teach a ‘Philosophy of Science’ or Implement ‘Strategies of Natural Philosophical Explanation’?” which has appeared in Stephen Gaukroger and Catherine Wilson [Eds.] Descartes and Cartesianism: Essays in Honour of Desmond Clarke, OUP, 2017, pp.3-25. Page numbers in brackets [ ] indicate page numbers in the published version. This paper raises issues and challenges, which I leave to the reader, concerning the ways in which an historian might write the history of early modern natural philosophizing, compared to the manner in which a philosopher might do so. See also in the ‘Book Reviews’ Section my essay review of Clarke’s biography of Descartes

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.