Whither Descartes?

Has anyone out there noticed an unusual surge of interest in Descartes? There are books on Descarte’s Bones, Descarte’s Baby, Descarte’s Error, The Geometry of Rene Descartes. The list goes on. How a 17th Century French mathematician who liked to stay in bed commands so much of our attention today reflects how much we are still caught up with Dualism: that is, mind vs body conceptions of how we think and behave, and what sets us apart from animals.  And his ideas about the animal spirits, which flowed from the ventricles of the brain to inflate our muscles and make us act in various ways, held sway well into the 18th century.  Not to mention his efforts to merge algebra and Euclidean geometry.  So whenever you say, “the mind is willing but the flesh is weak” , think of Rene.  And write a book about him in your spare time !


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