What happened to Descartes when he arrived in the Dutch Republic?
March 22, 2010
A lecture by Klaas van Berkel, Professor of History at Groningen University, who argued that Descartes absorbed the materialist and mechanist ideas current in the Dutch Republic in the first two decades of the seventeenth century. These ideas came primarily through Descartes’ interest in medicine and particularly in medical dissection. Although Descartes disavowed such views in print, especially after the debates initiated by Heinrich Voetius, he seems to have discussed such ideas with many individuals, thus the characterization of Descartes as a materialist may possess more accuracy than previously believed.