The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $27.95
  • Save: $6.82 (24%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 6 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
The Philosopher, the Prie... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Sold by expandingbooks
Condition: Used: Good
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $2.00
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes Hardcover – April 21, 2013


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$21.13
$9.98 $8.19

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.


Frequently Bought Together

The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes + A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age
Price for both: $33.97

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691157308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691157306
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Steven Nadler has produced another gem of original research and lively and lucid writing."--Catherine Wilson, Times Literary Supplement

"[C]harming. . . . Nadler, an American philosopher and author, has written an immensely readable introduction to Descartes."--Australian

"Riveting. . . . In The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter, Nadler has . . . written his most inviting book yet. . . . Nadler's detective work makes for fascinating reading. . . . [T]he resulting survey of Golden Age Dutch culture, Cartesian philosophy and art connoisseurship . . . makes for . . . very welcome intellectual entertainment."--Michael Dirda, Washington Post

"As one would expect from a distinguished philosopher such as Nadler, the description of Descartes's philosophy, and in particular his Discourse (1637) and Meditations (1641), is flawless."--Jerry Brotton, Literary Review

"[B]y situating him firmly in his time and place, [Nadler] makes clear what made Descartes the intellectual superstar of his day. . . . [A]n original, intriguing set-up. . . . [A]s an introduction to Descartes' philosophy, it is excellent."--David Wolf, Slate

"[A] landscape (or at least a well-turned charcoal sketch) of religious, artistic, and economic life in the Netherlands during the first half of the 17th century. . . . Nadler's book . . . takes us back upstream a ways--beginning, rather than exempting us from, a dialog with the dead."--Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"[A]bsorbing."--France Magazine

"Nadler is appealing to a wider audience that is looking less for hard-nosed scholarship and more for a story to follow, some intrigue to pique the mind while telling the reader something interesting and informative about the life and work of Descartes. Insofar as the work is meant for a general audience, it accomplishes its aims well enough and should be well-received and enjoyed by those readers."--Aaron Massecar, European Legacy

"Cartesian iconography centers around a widely known portrait of Descartes attributed to Frans Hals. In this book, Nadler uses the story of that painting's origin to present a study of Descartes and his philosophy that will be accessible to a wide audience. . . . [T]his volume serves as a very good introduction to Descartes's philosophy in historical context."--Choice

Praise for Steven Nadler's A Book Forged in Hell:"[A] delightfully lucid and philosophically thorough account. . . . What makes Nadler's so welcome a contribution is the care and the clarity of his philosophical exposition."--Peter Gordon, New Republic

From the Inside Flap

"The famous painting of Descartes by Frans Hals that hangs in the Louvre is, in fact, not by Frans Hals. And a similar things-are-not-what-they-seem quality applies to this clever little book. For behind the telling of the story of a clutch of paintings and a group of friends in the seventeenth century, Nadler gives us a brisk and lively account of Descartes' philosophy, which, more than any other, would become the foundation of modernity."--Russell Shorto, author of Descartes' Bones

"This lucid and readable book serves as a biography, an exposition of philosophy, and a rich tapestry of Dutch history and culture."--Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania

"The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter is an excellent introduction for general readers to Descartes and his thought. Nadler brings the story and ideas to life."--Daniel Garber, Princeton University


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Patrican on July 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is about a painting. Descartes is of secondary interest. The subtitle, "A Portrait of Descartes," refers to a specific painting, the one shown on the cover of the book. The title of the book refers to three men of 17th century Holland: Descartes, Augustijn Bloemaert, and Frans Hals. The book starts with a short "Prologue" which is actually an apology for the book. After that come three background chapters, one about each of the three men. Following that is a tediously detailed saga leading up to page 172, where the priest gets the painter to paint "A Portrait of Descartes." A final 25 pages discusses all the other portraits that might or might not be of Descartes.

How can Nadler not be embarrassed by this? The book appears to be a well-padded patchwork of notes left over from his two Spinoza books. The 20-page summary of Descartes' "Meditations" is fine, as far as it goes; at least it introduces the tortured nuances of faith-based science. But Nadler mentions only in passing, with a part of one sentence, Descartes' most significant achievement, by far: his use of algebra to describe geometry, in the system of 'Cartesian coordinates' now in everyday use worldwide. The scattered information about 16th and 17th century Netherlands is interesting, but it's a poor reprise of Nadler's writing in "A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age." That is a really good book, informative and coherently written. This Descartes sequel must be an attempt by Nadler to cash in on his reputation from his Spinoza books.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David B. Johnson on August 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an example of what I call, for lack of a better term, `popularized intellectual history' where the author takes some interesting historical event or puzzle and uses it to provide a non-technical introduction to a particular thinker. (Other examples of this type of work are Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World which is about whether Leibniz and Spinoza ever met and James R Gaines' Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment about Bach meeting Frederick the Great.)

Steven Nadler, here, takes a look at the often used depiction of the French philosopher Descartes that hangs in Louvre and examines whether the portrait is by the painter it is usually attributed to or whether it is actually a copy of an earlier formal portrait. Along the way he reviews early Dutch culture and politics, explains why Descartes ended up living in the Netherlands, and the importance of portraiture during this period. He also provides an introduction to Descartes' thought during this period and the reactions of various friends and critics. The analysis of Descartes' writings are presented in a historical fashion.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in a non-technical introduction to Descartes as well as anyone interested in the general milieu and painting history of the early Dutch Enlightenment. Readers well acquainted with Descartes looking for any new philosophical insight into his work should look elsewhere.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Theofrastus Nihilus on June 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I must admit I am a bit tired to the biographies of Descartes that offer nothing new and are basically just copies of the earlier biographies. I don't really like books, that are structured around the "Cogito, ergo sum". Those kind of books have already been printed too many times.

This book is different, in fact it is not an ordinary biography at all. In addition to the normal investigations concerning Descartes's natural science, metaphysics and mathematics, this offers a lot of information about the art history, religious, economical and political movements in 17th century Holland, publishing policy in Europe and other interesting stuff. As fas as I can see all the traditional myths and misunderstandings concerning Descartes are avoided.

This book is easy to read and do not require any knowledge about the subject, but the rare publications and letters from Descartes are used often, which is good for the advanced reader.

The real page numbers are great, because you can't really refer to the Kindle E-book properly if these are missing. A great way to combine scientific reading and an adventure novel. I would love to read more this kind of books.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book that combines biography, history, and philosophy in an engaging, instructive fashion. The philosopher is Rene Descartes, the priest is Augustijn Bloemaert, and the painter is Franz Hals. The focal point for the story is a portrait in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. The scholarly consensus is that it is a portrait of Descartes painted by Hals (although some scholars dispute one or both of those points).

Author Nadler's hypothesis, which the book makes eminently plausible, is that the priest Bloemaert, who was a good friend of Descartes, commissioned Hals in 1649 to paint a portrait of Descartes for Bloemaert to remember him by, just before the philosopher sailed for Sweden pursuant to an invitation from Queen Christina to instruct her on philosophy. (In the event, after several months in Sweden Descartes caught pneumonia and died.) In the words of the author, "The portrait of Descartes painted by Hals represents the meeting on Dutch soil * * * between a foreigner who was the greatest philosopher in a century full of great philosophers, and a local artist who was arguably the greatest portrait painter in a century full of great portrait painters."

In developing his hypothesis, Nadler gives us biographical sketches of Descartes and Hals and, to a lesser extent, the priest Bloemaert. He also provides historical context, much of which involves the Catholic/Protestant religious disputes of the seventeenth century, disputes that, anomalously, helped push Descartes, a Catholic, to the nominally Protestant Netherlands for the last two decades of his life.
Read more ›
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?