The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the Cultivation of Virtue

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Science - 336 pages
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Amid the unrest, dislocation, and uncertainty of seventeenth-century Europe, readers seeking consolation and assurance turned to philosophical and scientific books that offered ways of conquering fears and training the mind—guidance for living a good life.

The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution presents a triptych showing how three key early modern scientists, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Gottfried Leibniz, envisioned their new work as useful for cultivating virtue and for pursuing a good life. Their scientific and philosophical innovations stemmed in part from their understanding of mathematics and science as cognitive and spiritual exercises that could create a truer mental and spiritual nobility.  In portraying the rich contexts surrounding Descartes’ geometry, Pascal’s arithmetical triangle, and Leibniz’s calculus, Matthew L. Jones argues that this drive for moral therapeutics guided important developments of early modern philosophy and the Scientific Revolution.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
DESCARTES
13
PASCAL
87
LEIBNIZ
167
Epilogue
267
Notes
271
Bibliography
329
Index
363
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About the author (2008)

Matthew L. Jones is associate professor of history at Columbia University.

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