The Cartesian method, construed as a way of organizing domains of knowledge according to the "order of reasons," was a powerful reductive tool. Descartes made significant strides in mathematics, physics, and metaphysics by relating certain complex items and problems back to more simple elements that served as starting points for his inquiries. But his reductive method also impoverished these domains in important ways, for it tended to restrict geometry to the study of straight line segments, physics to the study of ambiguously constituted bits of matter in motion, and metaphysics to the study of the isolated, incorporeal knower. This book examines in detail the negative and positive impact of Descartes's method on his scientific and philosophical enterprises, exemplified by the Geometry, the Principles, the Treatise of Man, and the Meditations.
'a sophisticated work connected by a coherent perspective or specific thesis'
Roger Ariew, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Mind, Vol. 101, No. 402, April 1992
'the fundamental thesis does capture something which is clearly at work in Descartes, and it has exactly the consequences for Descartes' work which the author explains'
Desmond M. Clarke, University College, Cork, British Journal for the History of Science, 25
Introduction; Descartes's Geometry and Pappus' problem; Treatment of curves: notion of genre; Descartes's Principles: physical unities; Laws of motion; Historical context of Cartesian physics; Descartes's physiology; The Meditations re-examined; Bibliography; Index.