Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hattab, Helen. Review of Peter Machamer, et al. DESCARTES'S CHANGING MIND. NDPR (October 2010).

Machamer, Peter, and J. E. McGuire.  Descartes's Changing Mind.  Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009.

The great virtue of Descartes's Changing Mind is that it recognizes philosophy as a human endeavor, acknowledging that even philosophical giants, such as the much celebrated and reviled Father of Modern Philosophy, like all humans, change their minds and revise their theories over time. This is a welcome antidote to the more common tendency to take the principle of charity to imply a fundamental unity and consistency within Descartes's corpus. Machamer and McGuire are thus to be congratulated for taking on the difficult task of providing a reading of Descartes's entire corpus, spanning over two decades and five completed works, that treats it as a dynamic progression, rather than a static system. In so doing, they pay careful attention to the historical chronology, the Scholastic background, Descartes's replies to his philosophical interlocutors, and the scholarship on issues central to Descartes's mature positions. The result is a rich and controversial story that always engages the reader even if it does not always convince. . . .

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