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Descartes: A Biography


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Table of Contents

1. A lawyer's education; 2. In search of a career (1612-22); 3. Magic and mechanism: Paris (1622-8); 4. A fabulous world (1629-33); 5. The scientific essays and the Discourse on Method (1633-7); 6. Retreat and defence (1637-9); 7. Metaphysics in a hornet's nest (1639-42); 8. The French liar's monkey and the Utrecht crisis; 9. Descartes and Princess Elizabeth; 10. The Principles of Philosophy (1644); 11. The quarrel and final rift with Regius; 12. Once more into battle: the Leiden theologians (1647); 13. Thoughts of retirement; 14. Death in Sweden; Appendix 1. Descartes' principal works; Appendix 2. Places where Descartes lived; Bibliography.

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This biography addresses the full range of Descartes' interests and traces his intellectual development.

About the Author

Desmond Clarke is Professor of Philosophy at University College Cork. He received a D.Litt from th National University of Ireland, was Jean Monnet Fellow at the European Univeristy Institute in Florence, and has been elected to the Royal Irish Academy. He is the author of a number of books on Descartes and the seventeenth century, most recently Descartes' Theory of Mind.


'Desmond Clarke ... does a very good job of tracing the details of Descartes's life - the many comings and goings, the exchanges with other thinkers. Clarke takes the often fragmentary testimony that we have from the letters, the accounts found in earlier biographies and the newly discovered facts, and works them into a convincing narrative ... the reader will be able to learn where its subject was then and what he was thinking about ... Clarke also supplements this factual information with summaries and interpretations of key questions in Descartes's thought ... such commentaries are essential in the biography of a figure important primarily for what he thought ... This book will be of great use to the scholar in the history of philosophy or the history of science who needs to know the complex details of Descartes's life ...' Times Literary Supplement

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