This article explores the speed and form in which the mechanical philosophy was absorbed into the college curriculum in Louis XIV’s France. It argues that in general a mechanist approach to nature only began to be received sympathetically after 1690. It also emphasizes that it was the Cartesian not Gassendist form of the mechanical philosophy that professors espoused. While admitting that at present it is impossible to explain successfully the history of the reception of the mechanical philosophy in the classroom, the article concludes by attempting to throw light on the French preference for Descartes. This, it is suggested, is linked to the relative familiarity of Cartesian mechanism, the way the philosophy was packaged, and the political and religious environment.
Descartes, Gassendi, and the Reception of the Mechanical Philosophy in the French Collèges de Plein Exercice, 1640–1730
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L. W. B. Brockliss; Descartes, Gassendi, and the Reception of the Mechanical Philosophy in the French Collèges de Plein Exercice, 1640–1730. Perspectives on Science 1995; 3 (4): 450–479. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/posc_a_00491
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