Descartes and the Dutch: Early Reactions to Cartesian Philosophy, 1637-1650


Theo Verbeek provides the first book-length examination of the initial reception of Descartes's written works. Drawing on his research of primary materials written in Dutch and Latin and found in libraries all over Europe, even including the Soviet Union, Theo Verbeek opens a period of Descartes's life and of the development of Cartesian philosophy that has been virtually closed since Descartes's death. Verbeek's aim is to provide as complete a picture as possible of the discussions that accompanied the introduction of Descartes's philosophy into Dutch universities, especially those in Utrecht and Leiden, and to analyze some of the major problems that philosophy raised in the eyes of Aristotelian philosophers and orthodox theologians. The period covered extends from 1637, the year in which Descartes published hisDiscours de la Méthode,until his death in 1650. Verbeek demonstrates how Cartesian philosophy moved successfully into the schools and universities of Holland and how this resulted in a real evolution of Descartes's thought beyond the somewhat dogmatic position of Descartes himself. Verbeek further argues that this progression was an essential step in the universal propagation of Cartesian philosophy throughout Europe during the second half of the seventeenth century. As he details the disputes between Cartesians and anti-Cartesians in Holland, Verbeek shows how the questions raised were related on the one hand to religious conflicts between the Remonstrants and the Orthodox Calvinists and on the other hand to political conflicts between more liberal factions fighting for the union of church and state to enhance religious control of society in general. Contending that Descartes and Cartesian philosophy were central to the development of the modern Dutch state, Verbeek illuminates the role they played in Dutch political, religious, and intellectual life.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Carbondale, IL
Publication year:
  • 1992