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390 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 26:2 APRIL 1988 The remaining seven articles reprinted in this collections will be of interest to some historians of philosophy, but not to the degree of "Paracelsus and the Neoplatonic Tradition," "Religious Motives," "Paracelsus' ~ither~inliche Substanzen," and "Rubbish ." Teachers of philosophy should, however, recommend this reprint collection as a whole to their students, especially those who are interested in Renaissance philosophy and the often-quirky use made of ancient theories. JOHN SCARBOROUGH University of Wisconsin Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, editor. Essays on Descartes' Meditations. Major Thinkers Series. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, a986. Pp. xii + 534. Cloth, $48.5 o. Paper, $16.95. Amelie Rorty's collection of Descartes essays is excellent. Most of the authors enhance understanding of the Meditations in historical context, several provide analyses of critical arguments, and a few engage in reconstruction. Overall, there is a stress on clarification and on new or expanded interpretations based on careful examination of the text, mosdy without anachronism. One might have subtitled the book: Roots. The collection is also remarkably uniform in that all the authors implicitly or explicitly discount radical scepticism ("insane" says Rosenthal, 429) in their concern to preserve reason and knowledge, so that Rorty's nearly successful attempt to draw together papers on all the main topics in the Meditations does (it seems to me) circle around a black hole titled "Descartes's Demon." 1 missed the old devil. The volume begins with two excellent articles by Rorty and Kosman who show the argumentive structure of the Meditations by fitting it to the traditional forms of ascensional, exhortational, and admonitional meditations. Hatfield continues this line by comparing the Meditations to Catholic spiritual exercises. In these procedures, argument is overcome by persuasion. Garber shows Descartes replacing "the commonsense and sense-bound world that the Aristotelians have mistaken for the world we live in" (ao8), and while Williams' paper about the Academic background of Descartes's scepticism is useful, he confuses scepticism as such with the uses the Greeks and Descartes make of it. Matthews shows that "Descartes' best response to the Problem of Other Minds is an argument from other language-users" (x48), but not that he could meet a serious Viz. The Religiousand PhilosophicalAspectsof van Helmont'sScienceand MedicineSupplements to the Bulletin of the History ofMedicine, No. ~ (Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, 1944) Pp. ix, 44; "Paracelsus and Techellus the Jew," Bulletin oftheHistoryofMedicine34 096o): 274-77; "The Prime Matter of Paracelsus,"Ambix 9 (1961): 117-35; "The Eightness of Adam and Related 'Gnostic' Ideas in the Paracelsian Corpus," Ambix 16 (1969): 119-39 [with Marianne Winder]; "The Higher Elements and Prime Matter in Renaissance Naturalism and in Paracelsus,"Ambix 21 0974): 93-1~7 [with Marianne Winder]; "Das R~itselder 'Acht Miitter' im Paracelsischen Corpus ," Sudhoffs Archiv 59 0975): 254-66; and "The Paracelsian Elias Artista and the Alchemical Tradition," Medizin historischesJournal16 (1981): 6-19. BOOK REVIEWS 321 sceptical challenge. Curley thinks Descartes fails "to explain how a perfect being can be the creator of an imperfect being" (171). And Chappell takes the prize for the most clear and distinct analytic exposition of Descartes's theory of ideas in the literature; I take off my hat to him. Carriero's discussion of the background of mind, and Normore's gloss on objective being are in some parts elementary, but overall are very helpful for placing the Meditatiom in historical context. Loeb develops a secular Cartesian epistemology to support Descartes's claim that the Meditations contain the principles of his physics. Rodis-Lewis relates the "simple 'persuasion' linked to the presence of evidence and 'certain science' grounded in God" (27 l). Then the crucial argument in the volume, it seems to me, is Marion's densely erudite and insightful paper on "The Essential Incoherence of Descartes's Definition of Divinity" in which, among other things, he supports the view held (as far as I can tell) by all the authors who bring it up here, that for Descartes substance must be identical with essence. Marion also clarifies how the infinite can be known but not comprehended. Wilson shows what sense can be made of attempts to reconcile...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 320-321
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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