René Descartes is famous for his metaphysical foundation of his philosophical system. The image of the philosophical tree that he presents in the preface-letter to the French edition of the Principles of Philosophy (1647) offers a straightforward depiction of an organic growth of the philosophical system out of the metaphysical roots. This Cartesian metaphor was copiously exploited by the first Cartesians, who often attempted to represent Descartes’s whole system as developing from metaphysical roots. However, the relations between metaphysics, physics, and the rest of the philosophical disciplines were deeply problematic. The book explores the difficulties of the alleged underpinning of Descartes’s physics into the metaphysics. It starts from Descartes’s own works, but expands into an investigation of the early reception of Cartesian physics in the French context. It gives an account of several first-generation Cartesians (Jacques du Roure, Géraud de Cordemoy, François Bayle, and Jacques Rohault), especially of how such figures discussed the passage from metaphysics to physics. The book offers a detailed discussion of the relevant writings of these authors, especially of those publications concerned with the foundation of natural philosophy and with its relation to metaphysics. The study of early forms of French Cartesianism is done also to refer back to Descartes, such that the solutions provided by his early followers are called to provide a better understanding of the philosophical problems identified in the writings of their more famous contemporary.
ISBN 978-606-697-041-9 (paperback)
ISBN 978-606-697-042-6 (electronic)