Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason
In 1666, sixteen years after his death, the bones of René Descartes were dug up in the middle of the night and transported from Sweden to France under the watchful eye of the French Ambassador. This was only the beginning of the journey for Descartes’ bones, which, over the next 350 years, were fought over, stolen, sold, revered as relics, studied by scientists, used in sé...more
The narrative meandered considerably but the loops were interesting. The story is part forensic mystery, part history of philosophy and part discussion of the ideals of modern...more
THIS is the book I've been searching for in my dreams.
Exactly what happened and how it happened
that the revival of philosophy and scientific thinking
arose and grew into the 18th Century Enlightenment and laid the foundations of modern thinking which we take for granted.
The Enlightenment was a mere plaque in the wall
of 100 years plus of solid foundation building.
And the roots go back immediately into the 1500's and 1600's
and further into Ancient Greece, although
Shorto concentrates on the imm...more
Now it is the 1790s and DesCartes has been dead for quite some time. The French Revolution has set up a new and disease free republic. Churches are getting attacked. Des...more
I thought the author did a pretty good job of handling the balance between religion and s...more
I was particularly interested in the details of Descartes' life and the impact of his philosophical arguments. Both topics are covered thoroughly, and I would recommend the book for anyone looking for those discussions.
The integral role of Descartes in Western philosophy is clear. The surprise,...more
Unfortunately, the "Descartes' bones and skeletal history" part of the book didn't mesh well and felt disjointed from the "history of conflict between faith and reason" aspect. The former might have been interesting as a short article, and the latter is an inte...more
It is not a biography; the book begins, understandably, with Descartes' death in Sweden and a review of his philosophies regarding man's q...more
Fortunately, I continued and now I'm being rewarded.
The most interesting new information I've learned is the impact that Cartesianism had on the concept of transubstantiation (if that's not familiar to you, it's the Catholic belief that the sacraments b...more
The narrative flowed smoothly as Shorto laid out the journey of Descartes' bones. It was not linear, but con...more
The rest of the book is just as beautifully written, although he does indulge in some meandering. But overall great look into the Age of Enlightenment and the father of the Modern Age. The story of his skull is infamous. I read about it earlier i...more
But the world of science after Descartes is the true subject of this book, and the culmination of a p...more
I think this was a very good book to get your feet we...more
A 1981 gradua...more