Descartes' Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the Universe
René Descartes (1596—1650) is one of the towering and central figures in Western philosophy and mathematics. His apothegm “Cogito, ergo sum” marked the birth of the mind-body problem, while his creation of so-called Cartesian coordinates has made our intellectual conquest of physical space possible.
But Descartes had a mysterious and mystical side, as well. Almost certainly a member of the occult brotherhood of the Rosicrucians, he kept a secret notebook, now lost, most of which was written in code. After Descartes’s death, Gottfried Leibniz, inventor of calculus and one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, moved to Paris in search of this notebook–and eventually found it in the possession of Claude Clerselier, a friend of Descartes’s. Liebniz called on Clerselier and was allowed to copy only a couple of pages–which, though written in code, he amazingly deciphered there on the spot. Liebniz’s hastily scribbled notes are all we have today of Descartes’s notebook.
Why did Descartes keep a secret notebook, and what were its contents? The answers to these questions will lead the reader on an exciting, swashbuckling journey, and offer a fascinating look at one of the great figures of Western culture.
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Review: Descartes's Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the UniverseUser Review - Sandra Strange - Goodreads
You have to really be interested in 17th C science and history to enjoy this one. It reviews Descartes's life and accomplishments, then adds evidence from a secret notebook (lost but copied in part by ... Read full review
Review: Descartes's Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the UniverseUser Review - dejah_thoris - Goodreads
A fascinating biography and analysis of Descartes and his contribution to modern mathematics. Far ahead of his time, he lived an interesting life but feared to publish his revolutionary theories because of the troubles that plagued Galileo. Read full review
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