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49 ~ JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 99:3 JULY ~991 Michael G. Paulson. The PossibleInfluence of Montaigne's "Essais" on Descartes'"Treatise of the Passions." Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988. Pp. xiii + x23. Cloth, $92.50. Paper, $1o.25 . Descartes surely read Montaigne's Essais, and they doubtless had some influence on his writings. Paulson recapitulates "the resemblances between the Essais and the Discoursde la M~thode: the doubt or scepticism therein, the 'morale provisoire', the general conservatism in their outlook on life, the 'livre du monde', and the general ideas on travel" (13). Through a survey of the secondary literature and by juxtaposing texts from Descartes and Montaigne, Paulson shows that there is "a strong possibility that Montaigne 's Essais served as a source for the Trait~ des Passions" (116). Paulson remarks that Descartes examines the passions "from a theoretical or abstract viewpoint," while Montaigne "prefers to present his reader with concrete examples taken from history" (93)" There are various instances of Descartes using examples and subjects that appear in Montaigne, but there is no instance of Descartes using Montaigne's exact words. So Paulson's thesis is as well supported as the method of putting texts treating similar material side by side allows. Paulson speaks throughout of the Trait~ desPassions when the book was published as Les Passions de l'Ame. Also, Paulson erroneously believes that the Passions was composed for Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, whose biography he gives on p. 23, when in fact Descartes wrote for and was friends with her daughter. This rather undercuts Paulson's claim that Descartes bowdlerized the Essais "in order to make them presentable to Elizabeth Stuart" (loo). Paulson also mistakenly says that the Passions is dedicated to Elizabeth (6), when in fact it is dedicated to Queen Christina of Sweden. RICHARD A. WATSON Washington University Hiram Caton. The Politics of Progress: The Origins and Development of the Commercial Republic, i6oo-z835. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1988. Pp. xii + 627. Cloth, $49.oo. During the heyday of nineteenth-century liberalism, it was possible to believe in universal history as a science which exhibited a moral progress in human affairs. In this study Caton is proposing nothing less than "a resumption of the universal history project" based on recent work in prehistory, evolutionary biology, and related fields. Unlike Spencer's evolutionary biology, which treated behavior as a dependent variable of social institutions, Caton assumes "the conservation of behaviors on the historical time scale, that is, their resistance to extinction or creation by institutional change" (5). What are these constant behaviors? The social structure of animals is a function of reproductive strategies evolved under the constraint of scarce resources. The social structure of the human species is the family and kinship system, which is about 1.5 million years old. Political structure evolves out of social structure with the appearance of institutions. Institutions enable prodigious effects of group action without modify- BOOK REVIEWS 49 I ing the behavioral repertoire of the individuals composing the group. Political association exists to yield and distribute goods, such as wealth and security, which can be obtained only through institutions. Goods possible only through insitutions are public goods, and these are coextensive with the urban habitat. Progress is defined as increasing control by man's polytechnic rationality of the urban habitat. Consequently, man has a dual history: (l) the natural history of family and kinship, some of the energy for which is drained off to the urban habitat to produce institutions , yielding (2) the history of man's polytechnic rationality in fabricating the institutions of the political world. This dual history explains the universal phenomenon of man's sense of alienation from himself. All civilizations have a mythology of yearning for a simple life. This jeremiad occupied a secondary role in culture until the staggering changes and conflicts of the modern world made the theme of alienation a major one. Unlike Marx, who viewed man's second history as eventually overcoming the first history, Caton argues that the second is and must be dependent upon the first. The importance of polytechnic rationality in shaping modernity has been recognized by sociological critics such as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 490-492
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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