Descartes, His Life and Times

Descartes, His Life and Times

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Descartes, His Life and Times

Descartes, His Life and Times

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Of all the nineteen centuries of the Christian era, the seventeenth is possibly the most interesting to a student of history. And of all European countries, it is the country of Descartes' birth in which the developments of this century are seen to most advantage. In France, where Mediævalism had for so long reigned supreme, a new order of things had come to pass; and how it came to pass, and what the new order meant, are questions of the deepest interest; for us, these are united to the further question which meets us in this essay, as to the part that was played in the transformation by the subject of our study.

The time when a faithful and authentic definition of the Truth was counted the thing most to be desired, was drawing to a close. In Germany, the century of Descartes' birth had been characterised by that extra- ordinary upheaval in its intellectual life, known as the Reformation; and this upheaval did not confine itself to the country with which it is principally associated, but in very various forms manifested itself all over the continent of Europe. The sixteenth century, at the close of which Descartes was born, was a century of dismemberment and unrest. Old landmarks were removed; the changes in the constitution of European states began, which finally left them somewhat in their present form. It seemed as though every state were passing through a time of test and trial, and no one could certainly foretell the results. What state would stand pre-eminent at the close? What would be the religion finally decided on and adopted? Would France . . .

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