The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the Cultivation of Virtue

By Matthew L. Jones | Go to book overview

Notes

INTRODUCTION

1. Written by the moralist Saint-Evremond, “Jugement sur les sciences où peut s'appliquer un honneste homme” was originally printed anonymously in Boileau 1666 (quotations on pp. 26,28,29); see Saint-Evremond 1965, pp. 6,11,12. For a fine discussion of this essay, see Bensoussan 2000, esp. pp. 183–85.

2. Pierre Nicole, preface to Arnauld 1781, p. 5.

3. See now Smith 2004 for a survey of artisanal knowledge in the Scientific Revolution and its historical effacement. See citations in chapter 1 for different sorts of mathematical practitioners.

4. While I present a claim about some important longer-term continuities, I do not offer a new master narrative for the “Scientific Revolution,” nor do I attempt to resuscitate that periodization. Many of the developments in natural and mathematical knowledge in the seventeenth century had no connection to the technical considerations or the concerns about self-cultivation central to the subjects of this book.

5. This study surveys neither seventeenth-century philosophies understood as spiritual exercises nor such spiritual exercises, nor does it extensively document the major ethical systems prominent in early-modern France and Germany.

6. Seneca to Lucilius, 108.36; Seneca 1965, vol. 2, p. 109.

7. Most recent scholarship, following Oskar Kristeller, does not ascribe a robust common philosophical program or outlook to humanists. See Rummel 1995, pp. 30–34. For the Christian background, see Trinkaus 1970, vol. 1, pp. 46–50.

8. For entry into the literature, see Rummel 1995, esp. pp. 182–89. For a recent introduction to the relationship of philosophy with philology, see Kraye 1996. Recent scholarship has stressed the interplay of scholastic philosophy and Renaissance humanism in both the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. For ethics, see Kraye 1988 and now Lines 2002.

9. For skepticism about humanist education in practice, see Grafton and Jardine 1986.

10. Scholarship in the Renaissance clearly pursued both an ethical path and one of technical or “scientific” classical scholarship, such as philology and numismatics, which

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The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the Cultivation of Virtue
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • A Note on Conventions xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Descartes 13
  • Chapter One - Geometry as Spiritual Exercise 15
  • Chapter Two - A Rhetorical History of Truth 55
  • Part II - Pascal 87
  • Chapter Three - Mathematical Liaisons 89
  • Chapter Four - The Anthropology of Disproportion 131
  • Part III - Leibniz 167
  • Chapter Five - Forms of Expression 169
  • Chapter Six - Seeing All at Once 229
  • Epilogue 267
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 329
  • Index 363
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