Descartes and the Last Scholastics

Roger Ariew, Descartes and the Last Scholastics. Cornell University Press. 1999. 230pp.

From the publisher:

The ongoing renaissance in Descartes studies has been characterized by an attempt to understand the philosopher’s texts against his own intellectual background. Roger Ariew here argues that Cartesian philosophy should be regarded as it was in Descartes’s own day–as a reaction against, as well as an indebtedness to, scholastic philosophy. His book illuminates Cartesian philosophy by analyzing debates between Descartes and contemporary schoolmen and surveying controversies arising in its first reception. The volume touches upon many topics and themes shared by Cartesian and late scholastic philosophy: matter and form; infinity, place, time, void, and motion; the substance of the heavens; the object or subject of metaphysics; principles of metaphysics (being and ideas) and transcendentals (for example, unity, quantity, principle of individuation, truth and falsity). Part I exhibits the differences and similarities among the doctrines of Descartes and those of Jesuits and other scholastics in seventeenth-century France. The contrasts Descartes drew between his philosophy and that of others are the subject of Part II, which also examines some arguments in which he was involved and details the continued controversy caused by Cartesianism in the second half of the seventeenth century.