Cartesian Metaphysics: The Late Scholastic Origins of Modern Philosophy

Cartesian Metaphysics: The Late Scholastic Origins of Modern Philosophy

Cartesian Metaphysics: The Late Scholastic Origins of Modern Philosophy

Cartesian Metaphysics: The Late Scholastic Origins of Modern Philosophy


This is the first book-length study of Decartes' metaphysics to place it in its immediate historical context, the Late Scholastic philosophy of thinkers such as Su¿rez against which Descartes reacted. Jorge Secada views Cartesian philosophy as an "essentialist" reply to the "existentialism" of the School, and his discussion includes careful analyses and original interpretations of such central Cartesian themes as the role of skepticism, the theory of substance, and the dualism of mind and matter. His study offers a picture of Descartes' metaphysics that is both novel and philosophically illuminating.


I began writing this book about twelve years ago, after finally abandoning the revision of my doctoral dissertation and deciding to instead start anew and write a fresh account of the Cartesian metaphysics. I had basically finished what you now have in your hands by 1994. At that point I still thought that it would contain a fourth part exploring the origins and development of idealism. However, I have recently come to realize that the present essay is complete as it stands and that that final part is in fact an independent project which will see the light in its own time.

In writing this essay I have incurred many debts, too many to recall and properly acknowledge here. I beg the forgiveness of those institutions or persons to whom I am obliged but whom I have failed to mention.

Some of the research which I did in the early eighties has found its way into this essay particularly in chapters 7 and 8. I thank the generosity and kindness of the Master and Fellows of St John's College, Cambridge for the opportunity to carry it out in a most congenial and intellectually stimulating environment. Some sections of chapter 5 were written in one of the most beautiful urban settings in the world while on a visiting appointment at the University of British Columbia in the autumn of 1991; I thank the Philosophy Department there, and especially Paul Russell, for that opportunity. Some other parts, particularly in chapters 1 and 3, were composed in Quito in 1993; I thank FLACSO-Ecuador and my good friends Alonso Zarzar and Heraclio Bonilla for making that wonderful time up in the Andes possible. Preparation of the final production copy took place while on a most enjoyable neh appointment at Potsdam College of SUNY; I thank all who had a hand in bringing about that visit, particularly Joseph DiGiovanna and Philip Tartaglia. I also wish to thank my numerous friends at the Departamento de Humanidades of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú for selflessly providing me over the years with the facilities with which to carry out my work while in Lima. Finally, I thank the O'Reilly Memorial Library of Christendom College at Fort Royal in Virginia for allowing me to consult their rare books collection.

The Corcoran Department of Philosophy and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia have given me invaluable encour-

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