Arrving in Paris in 1664, Jean-Baptiste Denis had lost little time in becoming part of the fabric of academic life. By 1665 he had already set himself up as a self-proclaimed professor at the University and got to know the Cartesian circle of thinkers. He was young, intelligent, and eager to join in with the major centres of debate and make a name for himself in this thriving city.
'Location, location, location', are apparently the three driving influences behind setting up shop, and these must have been at the top of Denis' mind as he looked for a home. The choice of this ambitious young man was an apartment in a four-storey building on the Quai des Augustins (now the Quai des Grands Augustins), the road running along the edge of the River Seine, immediately opposite the Place du Dauphine on the Île de la Cité, with the impressive spire of Sainte Chapelle fingering the sky. It was easy to get to, being almost immediately at the end of Pont Neuf and just down the road from Pont Saint Michel. It also had prestige — looking left from the floor-to-ceiling windows revealed the magnificent riverside facade of Le Louvre, and looking right, Notre Dame filled the view.
The location was part of his plan to get known by giving lectures — and the plan worked well. His lectures were well attended, he rose rapidly from his previous obscurity, and it wasn't long before Montmor invited him to become a member of his society. The invitation was most welcome — not only did this bring him into contact with this group of thinkers, but Montmor was also known for giving money to those carrying out interesting work. Fame might have been Denis' long-term goal, but in the meantime, money would be a great help.
The Montmor group was itself the product of a quiet revolution in patterns of thought.While it is normally impossible to put your finger