The God of Matter, The God of Geometry: The Connection Between Descartes' Math and Metaphysics

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Domski, Mary
conference paper description
Building on the work of Henk Bos and John Schuster, I will examine how the story of Descartes-the-philosopher and Descartes-the-mathematician proceeds in the years immediately following 1628. Specifically, I will focus on the 1633 Le Monde and the 1637 Geometry and hope to show that Descartes is still trying in this period to integrate his distinctively Cartesian version of math with his distinctively Cartesian version of philosophy. Being even more specific, I will look at the creation story presented in Le Monde in conjunction with Descartes’ solution to the Pappus problem, which was published in the Geometry. On the reading I’ll offer, we find both a mathematical influence on the early metaphysics in Le Monde as well as (and this is the heart of my account) a metaphysical grounding for one very important part of the mathematical program that Descartes presents in the Geometry.