Talk:René Descartes

Law of Inertia

I think this needs to be included in the article, as it is a major development in the history of science. From Herbert Butterfield's book The Origins of Modern Science: "Descartes himself achieved the modern formulation of the law of inertia-the view that motion continues in a straight line until interrupted by something-working it out by a natural deduction from his theory of the conservation of momentum, his theory that the amount of motion in the universe always remains the same. It was he rather than Galileo who fully grasped the principle of inertia in all its clarity." (p. 178)

Missing critical reception

As a passing reader, the lack of discussion of criticism and nearly empty reception section is striking in this article. I'm no studied philosopher, but I must have read a dozen ecofeminists blame Descartes for the subject-object distinction in Western philosophy, or Thomas Merton describing Cogito ergo sum as the "the declaration of an alienated being, in exile from his own spiritual depths, compelled to seek some comfort in a proof for his own existence (!)" -New Seeds of Contemplation. 1961. p. 9.. I'm not arguing about the validity of these claims, but surely some expansion of the Reception section is in order to discuss contemporary authors treatment of Descartes? Sondra.kinsey (talk) 21:59, 15 July 2017 (UTC)

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Hi, I've researched Descartes for a few years, and I was under the impression that he never married. The section on 'Netherlands' states "he married his servant Helena". — Preceding unsigned comment added by MaTRiX709 (talkcontribs) 19:06, 3 December 2017 (UTC)

I have checked in the net, and the information obtained is that he did not marry Helena. So an afirmation of the contrary would need a sound reference, that is lacking. Therefore, I proceed to suppress this.-- Auró ( talk) 22:07, 4 December 2017 (UTC)

Descartes' educational relationship to the works of Galileo.

In the Early Life section of the article, we read "In 1607, late because of his fragile health, he entered the Jesuit Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La Flèche,[25][26] where he was introduced to mathematics and physics, including Galileo's work.[25][27]"

The last phrase of this sentence could be misleading: Galileo had not yet published many of the works for which is now popularly famous. He had published some works regarding scientific and engineering instruments. These could have been read by Descartes, certainly. But it was not until 1609 that Galileo created his telescope, and 1610 was his first publishing of his astronomical observations. While Galileo's Starry Messenger (1610) did cast doubt on geocentrism, it made no attempt at showcasing the heliocentrism for which he is now popularly known. The Starry Messenger did generate some discussion and controversy, but it was his Letter to Castelli (1613) that really set in motion (no pun intended) the subsequent struggle of Galileo with the Roman Catholic Church. Note that this letter was written in December of 1613, and that Descartes graduated from the Jesuit school in 1614. Because the Jesuits were initially sympathetic to Galileo's ideas—and since Descartes was in a Jesuit school—it is wholly believable that Descartes could have been introduced to some Galileo's ideas at this point. In addition, letters of such importance were widely circulated in those days. I wonder, however, whether Descartes could have received, by the time he graduated, a translation of a copy of a private letter written in the last month of the previous year. Even the wide reach of the Roman network had not received an authentic copy by the end of the following year (they had been given a copy with changes to make Galileo look bad).

My concern is that the statement leads the reader to believe that at this point in his life, Descartes was familiar with works and ideas that had not been published. It might be better to state which works of Galileo he read, if such evidence exists. The Starry Messenger is not out of the realm of possibility, certainly. But if Descartes read the Letter to Castelli—at least the real version—that would likely not have been until well after his graduation from the Jesuit school. Would it be better to establish that Descartes read the Starry Messenger, and that this work specifically influenced him to think more independently of popular thought? This is most certainly the effect it had on many of its readers. I leave this decision to the experts. Sambolic (talk) 19:33, 13 March 2019 (UTC)sambolic

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