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The Breakdown of Cartesian Metaphysics (Hackett Publishing) [Paperback]

Richard A. Watson

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Book Description

March 1998 0872204065 978-0872204065
Combines historical research and philosophical analysis to cast light on why and how Cartesianism failed as a complete metaphysical system. Far more radical in its conclusions than his 1966 study The Downfall of Cartesianism (a slightly revised version of which forms the main body of the current work), Watson argues that Descartes's ontology is incoherent and vacuous, his epistemology deceptive, and his theology unorthodox -- indeed, that "Descartes knows nothing".

Editorial Reviews


Original and stimulating. . . . The four new chapters deserve close attention. . . . Readers will await further studies by Richard A. Watson all the more impatiently. -- Jean-Luc Marion, Archives de Philosophie

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More About the Author

Richard Watson taught philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis for forty years. He is known for innovative work in Early Modern Philosophy: THE BREAKDOWN OF CARTESIAN METAPHYSICS (Hackett Publishing Company) and REPRESENTATIONAL IDEAS FROM PLATO TO PATRICIA CHURCHLAND (Kluwer Academic Publishers); and in Environmental Ethics and Philosophy of Geology. He is the author of three novels on the theme of obsession: UNDER PLOWMAN'S FLOOR (hb Zepyrus Press, pb Cave Books), THE RUNNER (hb Copple House Books, pb Cave Books) and NIAGARA (Coffee House Press), which is about the first man to walk across the Falls on a wire, and the first person (a woman) to go over the Falls in a barrel.

For more than fifty years he explored caves in the Mammoth Cave region, and with Roger W. Brucker he is the author of THE LONGEST CAVE (hb Alfred A. Knopf, pb Southern Illinois University Press), which has never been out of print since it was first published in 1976. He and Roger contend that it will never be out of print so long as people read books of adventure.

THE PHILOSOPHER'S DIET: HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT AND CHANGE THE WORLD (hb Atlantic Monthly Press, pb David R. Godine) has been translated into nine languages. THE PHILOSOPHER'S DEMISE: LEARNING FRENCH (hb University of Missouri Press, pb David R. Godine) has been translated into Italian. The French translation of NIAGARA (Coffee House Press) was featured at the Saint-Malo Etonnants Voyageurs Festival International du Livre in 1997, where it won a translation award. COGITO, ERGO SUM: THE LIFE OF RENE DESCARTES (hb & pb revised 2nd ed. David R. Godine) was chosen by the New York Public library as one of "25 Books to Remember from 2002."

William H. Gass characterizes Watson's writing as genere-busting, because he treats serious philosophical themes in uncoventional ways.

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