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Certain to Become the Standard Descartes Biography,
This review is from: Descartes: A Biography (Hardcover)
Let's make this short but sweet: Over the last few years there has been a spate of Descartes biographies, none of them satisfying. But now Cambridge U. Press has come out with what I feel will be the standard biography of Descartes, and it had better be, inasmuch as it's over 500 pages. Clarke's biography differs from the others in that he takes the full range of Descartes' interests into account (theology, philosophy and the science) as he traces Descartes' intellectual development and his ultimate role as midwife to the Scientific Revolution, a role he `inherited' from Kepler and Galileo and one which he expanded into a search for a theory that would link theology, science and philosophy. A recluse who spent much of his life in Holland and kept in touch with the intellectual currents of his day mainly by correspondence, Descartes was a fascinating character ands Clarke does an excellent job straddling the line between Descartes the man and Descartes the thinker.
In addition, the book is quite well-written; a worthy addition to the Cambridge U. Press series of Philosophical Biographies. (Previous subjects include Spinoza, Hobbes, Hegel, Kant and Kierkegaard.) While demonstrating his mastery of his subject, Clarke does an excellent job of explaining Descartes' philosophy and intellectual interests without boring his readers, a trick more scholarly authors should learn.