Descartes’ Olympica

Richard Kennington.  “Descartes’ Olympica,” On Modern Origins: Essays in Early Modern Philosophy, ed. P. Kraus and F. Hunt. Lexington Books. 2004.


The Olympica”–Decartes’ youthful account of dreams and their interpretations–is believed to be the one writing in which ‘the founder of modern rationalism’ claims a divine inspiration for his philosophy. According to Gilson, ‘at least at the time of the Olympica, he places a certain inspiration at the origin of philisophy, a point to which Decartes never returned, neither to reaffirm it, nor to deny it.’ The ‘inspiration’ in question is divine: ‘the sentiment experienced by Descates that he was invested by God with the mission of constituting the body of the sciences and thus, as a consequence, to establish true wisdom.

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