Russell Shorto ( free ) Descartes' Bones a Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason

Russell Shorto ✓ 5 Free read

On a brutal winter's day in 1650 in Stockholm Frenchman René Descartes the most influential controversial thinker of his time was buried after a lonely death far from home 16 years later the French Ambassador Hugues de Terlon secretly unearthed Descartes' bones transported them to France Why would this devoutly Catholic official care so much about the remains of a philosopher who was hounded from country to country on charges of atheism Why would Descartes' bones take such a strange serpentine path over the next 350 years a path intersecting some of the grandest events imaginable the birth of science the rise of democracy the mind body problem the conflict between faith reason Their story involves people from all walks of life Louis XIV a Swedish casino operator poets playwrights philosophers physicists as these people used the bones in scientific studies stole them sold them revered them as relics fought over the. The modernist need to distance society from religion didn t obviate the human need to connect with the past to come to terms with mortality Just as religious buildings were co opted for secular humanistic purposes that were nevertheless somehow transcendent the notion of certain human bones becoming conduits between the mortal and the divine was taken over and given new meaning They may have been desacralized symbolic of worldly achievement and advance but the Enlightenment still had its relics 107Often the best nonfiction reads like a novel Dramatized events larger than life characters a blending of known facts and reconstruction all this makes for a great read and is the type of presentation Descartes Bones delivers in spades It is as the well worn book reviewer s clich has it hard to put down Author Russell Shorto s grand and sweeping declarations that Descartes method of critical thinking was no less significant than the Industrial Revolution the French and American Revolutions the rise of the Internet make for a big fierce hookAll told this book serves as a great primer for Descartes basic arguments and influence on Western thought I knew the bare essentials from Philosophy 101 already Cogito ergo sum dualism the mind body problem what else is there Plenty Shorto carves out a very substantial niche in history for Descartes to occupy and does so with very lively writing far above the norm for nonfiction For exampleLayers of tradition had built up around such categories for understanding reality Centuries of robed scholars and scribes had bent in tallow tapered light over parchment sheets and leather bound manuscripts mouthing words uill scratching rubricating memorizing parsing and analyzing and adding levels to the hoary infrastructure that had these categories as elements and that was applied as an increasingly unwieldy tool to explain natural phenomena human behavior history the universe 18Descartes biography and historical role and essential philosophy are all made clear from the start Our author s Faith vs Reason conflict is murkier at first but blossoms in the later chapters He takes a few early swipes at religious fundamentalism weakly at first but much much stronger towards the end I guess he assumes probably rightly that his readers already side with Reason over Faith But the term conflict is fitting and takes greater shape as he analyzes how Cartesian logic threatened the Catholic church s doctrine especially the miracle of transubstantiation It is in his thorough and articulate explanations that this book really sets itself apart and demonstrates substantial meaty philosophical and historical research Descartes skeleton and especially its flagship skull serves as a touchstone around which Shorto describes the various trends of developing European culture and new branches of science that rose and fell with the passing centuries And it all builds towards a beautiful finale placing Cartesianism front and center as relevant still todayWe are all philosophers because our condition demands it We live every moment in a universe of seemingly eternal thoughts and ideas yet simultaneously in the constantly churning and decaying world of our bodies and their humble situations We are graced with a godlike ability to transcend time and space in our minds but are chained to death The result is a nagging need to find meaning This is where the esoteric mind body problem of philosophy professors becomes meaningful to us all where it translates into tears and laughter 2515 stars out of 5 Extremely well done Dangerous Melody (Treasure Seekers years later the French Ambassador Hugues de Terlon secretly unearthed Descartes' bones transported them to France Why would this devoutly Catholic official care so much about the remains of a philosopher who was hounded from country to country on charges of atheism Why would Descartes' bones take such a strange serpentine path over the next 350 Devoted to Drew years a path intersecting some of the grandest events imaginable the birth of science the rise of democracy the mind body problem the conflict between faith reason Their story involves people from all walks of life Louis XIV a Swedish casino operator poets playwrights philosophers physicists as these people used the bones in scientific studies stole them sold them revered them as relics fought over the. The modernist need to distance society from religion didn t obviate the human need to connect with the past to come to terms with mortality Just as religious buildings were co opted for secular humanistic purposes that were nevertheless somehow transcendent the notion of certain human bones becoming conduits between the mortal and the divine was taken over and given new meaning They may have been desacralized symbolic of worldly achievement and advance but the Enlightenment still had its relics 107Often the best nonfiction reads like a novel Dramatized events larger than life characters a blending of known facts and reconstruction all this makes for a great read and is the type of presentation Descartes Bones delivers in spades It is as the well worn book reviewer s clich has it hard to put down Author Russell Shorto s grand and sweeping declarations that Descartes method of critical thinking was no less significant than the Industrial Revolution the French and American Revolutions the rise of the Internet make for a big fierce hookAll told this book serves as a great primer for Descartes basic arguments and influence on Western thought I knew the bare essentials from Philosophy 101 already Cogito ergo sum dualism the mind body problem what else is there Plenty Shorto carves out a very substantial niche in history for Descartes to occupy and does so with very lively writing far above the norm for nonfiction For exampleLayers of tradition had built up around such categories for understanding reality Centuries of robed scholars and scribes had bent in tallow tapered light over parchment sheets and leather bound manuscripts mouthing words uill scratching rubricating memorizing parsing and analyzing and adding levels to the hoary infrastructure that had these categories as elements and that was applied as an increasingly unwieldy tool to explain natural phenomena human behavior history the universe 18Descartes biography and historical role and essential philosophy are all made clear from the start Our author s Faith vs Reason conflict is murkier at first but blossoms in the later chapters He takes a few early swipes at religious fundamentalism weakly at first but much much stronger towards the end I guess he assumes probably rightly that his readers already side with Reason over Faith But the term conflict is fitting and takes greater shape as he analyzes how Cartesian logic threatened the Catholic church s doctrine especially the miracle of transubstantiation It is in his thorough and articulate explanations that this book really sets itself apart and demonstrates substantial meaty philosophical and historical research Descartes skeleton and especially its flagship skull serves as a touchstone around which Shorto describes the various trends of developing European culture and new branches of science that rose and fell with the passing centuries And it all builds towards a beautiful finale placing Cartesianism front and center as relevant still todayWe are all philosophers because our condition demands it We live every moment in a universe of seemingly eternal thoughts and ideas

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Descartes' Bones a Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason

M passed them surreptitiously from hand to hand The answer lies in Descartes’ famous phrase Cogito ergo sum I think therefore I am In his deceptively simple 78 page essay Discourse on the Method this small vain vindictive peripatetic ambitious Frenchman destroyed 2000 years of received wisdom laid the foundations of the modern world At the root of Descartes’ method was skepticism What can I know for certain Like minded thinkers around Europe passionately embraced the book the method was applied to medicine nature politics society The notion that one could find truth in facts that could be proved not in reliance on tradition the Church's teachings would become a turning point in human history In an age of faith what Descartes was proposing seemed like heresy Yet Descartes himself was a good Catholic who was spurred to write his incendiary book for the most personal of reasons He'd devoted himself to medicine the. THIS is the book I ve been searching for in my dreamsExactly what happened and how it happenedthat the revival of philosophy and scientific thinking arose and grew into the 18th Century Enlightenment and laid the foundations of modern thinking which we take for grantedThe Enlightenment was a mere plaue in the wall of 100 years plus of solid foundation building And the roots go back immediately into the 1500 s and 1600 s and further into Ancient Greece although Shorto concentrates on the immediate causesCopernicus and Galileo were already under a cloudfor their arguments that the sun not the earth was the centre of our universe However their books were devoured by their contemporariesdespite or because of their suppressionContrary to the Catholic Church s expectationsScience and Philosophywhich it had suppressed for over a thousand years took offdue largely to the revival of ancient knowledgewith the Renaissance and the printing press which allowed knowledge to be easily disseminated After a reign of over a thousand years Theologythe stuff that dreams are made of was going to come to griefat the hands of its thinking believersCopernicus and Galileo had no doubts about God s existencebut they also had no doubts that their reasoning had overthrown the accepted teachings of tradition and authorityENTER Descartes the dubious villian of the piecealso a good Catholic but a French philosopher Rene Descartes whose belief and promotion of rational doubtwould wreak unintentional havoc on theology tradition and accepted authority Disillusioned with his Jesuit educationfrom which he salvaged only Mathematics he found his answer in rational scepticism expressed in his uestionWhat can I know for certain This further strengthened the novel notion that one need not rely on authority or traditionbut on one s own thought processes observation and experimentation iefinding truth in facts that could be proved and the proof replicatedDescartes book sold like hot cakesSocial Clubs were formed where experiments and discussion could indulge this new way of seeing the worldPassionate application of his thought was applied and had already been applied to medicineegWilliam Harvey and the circulation of the blood astronomy egCopernicus and Galileo politics egMachiavelli physics and optics eg Isaac NewtonThe genie was out of the bottleShorto reveals how Descartes was adopted by both radicals and conservatives to back up their beliefsAnd how the journey of his bones was influenced by persons and events whom he had helped to influence and create through his thoughtThis book is a marvellous blend of a passionate man and philosopherwho made thinking a passion in itself made thinking the Fad of the Times and influenced bloody revolutionsI will never look on Descartes again as a mere thinking machineA vastly entertaining read

Free read Descartes' Bones a Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason

Study of nature but when his beloved daughter died aged 5 he took his ideas deeper To understand the natural world one needed to uestion everything Thus the scientific method was created religion overthrown If the natural world could be understood knowledge could be advanced others might not suffer as his child did The great controversy Descartes ignited continues to our era where Islamic terrorists spurn the modern world pine for a culture based on unuestioning faith; where scientists write bestsellers that passionately make the case for atheism; where others struggle to find a balance between faith reason Descartes’ Bonesis a historical detective story about the creation of the modern mind with twists turns leading up to the present day to the science museum in Paris where the philosopher’s skull now resides to the church a few kilometers away where not long ago a philosopher priest said a mass for his bones. At points where it appears Shorto has really focused this book is a 5 It uses the journey of the bones of the philosopherpolymath Rene Descartes from his 17th century death into the 20th century to reflect upon the relationship between faith reason and the movements of historyThe author s viewpoint is there which is good but is not overwhelming which is better and he makes a number of intriguing and good points The tale is often best when describing in detail surrounding events but does a good job on explicating the three way tangle between radical Enlightment thinkers moderate Enlightment thinkers and traditionalists


10 thoughts on “Descartes' Bones a Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason

  1. says:

    The modernist need to distance society from religion didn't obviate the human need to connect with the past to come to terms with mortality Just as religious buildings were co opted for secular humanistic purposes that were nevertheless somehow transcendent the notion of certain human bones becoming conduits between the mortal an

  2. says:

    This is a marvellous historiography of philosophy and the Enlightenment It gives an overview starting with Descartes and how his views

  3. says:

    The author uses the story of Descartes' bones as a metaphor for the divisive and rambling path toward human progress The use of Descartes' bones in this way is doubly clever because not only is the physical path of the bones mysterious and controversial; Descartes' philosophy of uestioning received wisdom had its own controversy with traditional thinking The book follows the history of The Enlightenment through to tod

  4. says:

    I very much enjoyed reading this clever book if only for its overarching populist rendering of much of what we und

  5. says:

    THIS is the book I've been searching for in my dreamsExactly what happened and how it happenedthat the revival of philosophy and scientific thinking arose and grew into the 18th Century Enlightenment and laid the foundations of modern thinking which we take for grantedThe Enlightenment was a mere plaue in the wall of 100 years plus of solid foundation building And the roots go back immediately into the 1500's and 1600's

  6. says:

    I was ambivalent about the gimmick of basing the history around the journey of Descartes' bones How interesting could it be? Much to my delight Russell Shorto managed to surprise me While this book isn't uite the

  7. says:

    The tale of philosopher scientist Rene Descartes' bones form the skeleton of Shorto's sketch of Descartes key ideas that shaped our mo

  8. says:

    A fascinating to me examination of the influence of Rene Descartes on modern thought Starts with the great philosopher's

  9. says:

    At points where it appears Shorto has really focused this book is a 5 It uses the journey of the bones of the philosopherpolymath Rene Descartes from his 17th century death into the 20th century to reflect upon the relationship between faith reason and the movements of historyThe author's viewpoint is there which is good but is not overwhe

  10. says:

    Excellent delve into the wrestling of understanding of where Cartesian thought and methods have brought us The scientific and religious forces that shape our views are embedded in so many parts of our daily modern lives In

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