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BOOK RWVIEWS ~57 possessors of nature" (157). Hattie argues that Descartes's "turn from speculative to practical philosophy.., requires that the nature of philosophy itself be changed" (160). "The fear of death is to be conquered, then, not by the virtue of courage but by removing the cause of fear [by exercising] power over nature, that is, over bodies, by knowing them" (163). And so "Descartes rejects both the Socratic notion of philosophy as an endless task and the Augustinian dependence on a compassionate God" (135). Hartle ties her two theses together with the claim that these three philosophies are sequential responses to the universal human fear of death. She argues that Augustine's compassionate God can be comprehended only in contrast to Socrates' disinterested divine spectator, and in turn that only by taking Augustine's active God to be a producer of causes and effects can Descartes transform philosophy from wondrous contemplation into working craftsmanship for advancing human good (185). Descartes eliminates Attic wonder and rhetorical whistling in the dark just as he eliminates Christian faith and the humiliating agony of confession by promising that through science man will attain power over death. Hartle's book is an ambitious attempt to integrate the whole of Western philosophy with reference to the fear of death. Her conclusion that the Cartesian "search for certitude has led inevitably to philosophical powerlessness and despair" (189) is true only in the context of taking the heritage of Augustine and Descartes to be nonphilosophical . She urges that philosophy as Socratic rhetoric is not merely "idle talk" because it is good neither for salvation nor progress, but that "the life of argument" is the only true philosophical "holding-action against the fear of death" (58). It is impossible to deny that all philosophers are concerned in one way or another with human mortality. But just because this concern is necessarily universal, the argument that philosophy just is the attempt to accommodate the fear of death is necessarily weak. On the other hand, Hartle's discussion of the relations among the philosophies of Socrates, Augustine, and Descartes is insightful and persuasive. One can hardly say it without being jejune: Death is a profound subject. Ann Hartle has conducted herself well in presenting a major interpretation of this central motivating concern as integral to the course and development of Western philosophy. RICHARD A. WATSON Washington University Sergio Landucci. La Teodicea nell'et~ Cartesiana. Saggi Bibliopotis 19. Naples: Bibliopolis , 1986. Pp. 318. Paper, L. 3o.ooo. In this volume the author has collected several essays already published in Italian journals, but he has arranged them to form a unified whole and accompanied them with valuable philological notes. The result is an important book on a subject that appears rather far removed from contemporary thought, though it is fundamental for an understanding of the metaphysical and moral philosophy of the modern age. Indeed , the age-old problem of the justification of God as regards the evils of the world reaches its theoretical climax precisely in the second half of the seventeenth centurY, 158 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 27:1 JANUARY ~989 when the new Cartesian metaphysics exploded its contradictions and the new critical spirit exposed its epistemological difficulties. And just when European philosophical thought began to abandon mechanistic philosophy, renouncing the attempt to overcome the difficulties in a problem of "metaphysical law" which progressively appeared to be simply theological, Leibniz gave the subject of cosmic justice the brief, symbolic name of theodicy, which came to be used differently in post-Kantian speculation to indicate, in general, the object of any rational theology. With reference to theodicy the question has always been raised whether Leibniz, the author of the famous Essais de Th~odic~e, published in 171o, is to be numbered among the novatores and whether the reply to the new ideas of the Cartesian age is to be found in his work or whether his work is merely the re-proposal of the traditional arguments of Christian metaphysics, already confuted by Bayle and abandoned by Malebranche. Landucci definitely accepts the latter thesis and his book is even more interesting because it is oriented towards praising Descartes' originality...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 157-159
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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