Tom 19 Nr 2 (2022)

The Metaphysics of Cartesian Science

Michael Esfeld
University of Lausanne

Opublikowane 17.11.2022 — zaktualizowane 21.12.2022


Słowa kluczowe

  • Descartes,
  • methodological scepticism,
  • modern science,
  • res cogitans,
  • res extensa

Jak cytować

Esfeld, Michael. “The Metaphysics of Cartesian Science”. 2022. Filozoficzne Aspekty Genezy , vol. 19, no. 2, Dec. 2022, pp. 165-89,


The argument of this paper is that the rationale, potential and limits of modern science are evident in Descartes, and in respect of its basic Cartesian features are still valid today. Its rationale is objectivity, its potential is a great improvement in human living conditions, and its limit is that, due to its striving for objectivity, modern science cannot in principle encompass human thought and action. Cartesian dualism is therefore well grounded, and can be elaborated on without any commitment to two autonomous types of substances.


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Allison Henry and Heath Peter (eds.), Theoretical Philosophy After 1781, trans. Gary Hatfield, Michael Friedman, Henry Allison, and Peter Heath, The Cambridge Edition of The Works of Immanuel Kant, Vol. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2002.
  2. Bell John S., Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics, Collected Papers on Quantum Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1987.
  3. Blumenberg Hans, The Legitimacy of The Modern Age, trans. Robert M. Wallace, MIT Press, Cambridge – London 1983 (German original: Die Legitimität der Neuzeit, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt 1966).
  4. Chalmers David J., The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1996.
  5. Cooper John M. (ed.), Plato: Complete Works, Hackett Publishing Co., Indianapolis 1997.
  6. de Caro Mario and Macarthur David (eds.), Naturalism in Question, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 2004.
  7. de Muralt André, L’enjeu de la philosophie médiévale: études thomistes, scotistes, occamiennes et grégoriennes, Brill, Leiden 1991.
  8. Descartes René, Discours de la méthode, Jean Maire, Leyden 1637.
  9. Descartes René, Meditationes de prima philosophia, Soly, Paris 1641.
  10. Descartes René, Œuvres de Descartes. Volume 6. Publié par Charles Adam et Paul Tannery, Cerf, Paris 1902.
  11. Descartes René, Principia Philosophiae, Part Two, Elsevier, Amsterdam 1644.
  12. Esfeld Michael, Quantum Entanglement and A Metaphysics of Telations, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 2004, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 601–617,
  13. Esfeld Michael and Deckert Dirk-André, A Minimalist Ontology of The Natural World, Routledge, New York 2017.
  14. Esfeld Michael and Köstner Guillaume, Normative Relations, Mind Points and Social Ontology, Synthese 2022, Vol. 200, No. 6, article number 455,
  15. Esfeld Michael and Lam Vincent, Moderate Structural Realism About Space-Time, Synthese 2008, Vol. 160, No. 1, pp. 27–46,
  16. Feigl Herbert and Scriven Michael (eds.), The Foundations of Science and the Concepts of Psychology and Psychoanalysis, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1956.
  17. Foster John, The Case for Idealism, International Library of Philosophy, Routledge, London 1982.
  18. French Steven and Ladyman James, Remodelling Structural Realism: Quantum Physics and The Metaphysics of Structure, Synthese 2003, Vol. 136, No. 1, pp. 31–56;
  19. Gerhardt Carl Immanuel (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften von G. W. Leibniz, Band 7, Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 1890.
  20. Hall Ned, Humean Reductionism About Laws of Nature. Unpublished manuscript, 2009, pp. 1–55, [14.11.2022].
  21. Hursthouse Rosalind, Lawrence Gavin, and Quinn Warren (eds), Virtues and Reasons: Philippa Foot and Moral Theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995, pp. 149–179.
  22. Jackson Frank, From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1998.
  23. Kant Immanuel, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics that will be Able to Come Forward as Science, in: Allison and Heath (eds.), Theoretical Philosophy…, pp. 29–170.
  24. Ladyman James, What is Structural Realism?, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Science 1998, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 409–424,
  25. Lazarovici Dustin and Reichert Paula, Typicality, Irreversibility and The Status of Macroscopic Laws, Erkenntnis 2015, Vol. 80, No. 4, pp. 689–716,
  26. Leibniz’ third letter to Clarke, in : Gerhardt (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften…, pp. 363–364.
  27. Lewis David, How to Define Theoretical Terms, Journal of Philosophy 1970, Vol. 67, No. 13, pp. 427–446,
  28. Lewis David, Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1972, Vol. 50, No. 3, pp. 249–258,
  29. Lewis David, On the Plurality of Worlds, Blackwell, Oxford 1986.
  30. Loewer Barry and Schaffer Jonathan (eds.), A Companion to David Lewis, Blackwell Companions to Philosophy, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Malden — Oxford — West Sussex 2015.
  31. Mach Ernst, The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of its Development, trans. Thomas J. McCormack, Fourth Edition, Open Court, Chicago 1919 (German original: Die Mechanik in Ihrer Entwickelung Historisch-Kritisch Dargestellt, Brockhaus, Leipzig 1897).
  32. Maudlin Tim, Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory, Princeton University Press, Princeton 2019.
  33. McDowell John, Two Sorts of Naturalism, in: Hursthouse, Lawrence, and Quinn (eds), Virtues and Reasons…, pp. 149–179.
  34. Newton Isaac, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Royal Society, London 1687.
  35. Plato, Parmenides, trans. Mary Louise Gill and Paul Ryan, in: Cooper (ed.), Plato…, pp. 359–397.
  36. Popper Karl R., The Poverty of Historicism, Routledge, London 1957.
  37. Price Huw, Naturalism Without Representationalism, in: de Caro and Macarthur (eds.), Naturalism in Question…, pp. 71–88.
  38. Sellars Wilfrid, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, in: Feigl and Scriven (eds.), The Foundations of Science…, pp. 253–329.
  39. von Hayek Friedrich August, The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies on The Abuse of Reason, Free Press, Glencoe 1952.
  40. Watson James D. and Crick Francis H.C., Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, Nature 1953, Vol. 171, No. 4356, pp. 737–738,