René Descartes

Richard Kennington.  “René Descartes,” in History of Political Philosophy, ed. Strauss and Cropsey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987).


Descartes has long been celebrated as “the founder of modern philosophy,” but never of modern political philosophy. His epochal beginning appears to stand in splendid isolation from the older modern political tradition founded by Machiavelli: he never even composed a thematic discussion of political things.  This suggestion that modern philosophy and modern political philosophy are separate in origin and perhaps perhaps divergent in intention. A link between Descartes and the modern political tradition is visible, however, in his relation to Francis Bacon, the first great and avowed advocate of Machiavellian politics directed to the mastery of fortune or nature in human affairs.

Google Books