René Descartes in Sweden

René Descartes in Sweden


 André J. Fabre                                             November 2010

René Descartes, French philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and writer spent most of his life abroad.


 Descartes's birthplace, La Haye (now Descartes),  is in Touraine. His father, Joachim, owned several farms and houses and became counselor Parlement de Bretagne in Rennes. Thus, Descartes belonged to Bretagne's nobility. His mother died one year after Descartes was born and the father remarried in Rennes. Thus, Descartes was raised by his grandmother, then by an uncle in Chatellerault, in theccenter of France, the so-called Poitou-Charente area, at that time  place of active Protestantism.

In 1606, Descartes was sent to a Jesuit college in La Fleche near training students for a career in Army, Justice or State administration

In 1614, Descartes went to Poitiers to receive a legislation degree in 1616

Descartes in 1618 went to Breda Netherlands for additional studies in science and Mathematics. Influenced by the German mathematician Johann Faulhaber (1580-1635),  Descartes shared a number of objectives and Rosicrucian habits

 Like the Rosicrucians, he lived alone and retirement, changed his residence often (in its 22 years in the Netherlands, he lived in 18 different places), working as a doctor, without charge, trying to improve human life, with whayt should be called positive views on science as a tool to improve human condition

He received also influence from the English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626), proposing a new science for observation and experience to replace the traditional Aristotelian science,

 In 1622 Descartes moved to Paris to play red fenced, and attend court, concerts and theater plays

 Among his friends the poets Jean-Louis Guez Balzac (1597-1654), who dedicated his The Christian Socrates (1652, "Christian Socrates") to Descartes, and Theophilus Viau (1590-1626), who burned the portraits and imprisoned in 1623 for writing verses mocking religious themes

 Descartes also befriended the mathematician Claude Mydorge (1585-1647) and Father Marin Mersenne (1588-1648), a man of universal learning corresponded with hundreds of scientists, writers, mathematicians and researchers

At a conference in 1628, Descartes denied Alchemist Chandoux demand that the probability is virtually trust in science and demonstrated his method to ensure safety

 Many commentators believe that Bérulle urged Descartes to write a metaphysical on the basis Augustine's philosophy as a substitute Jesuit education

 Anywhere in a few weeks Descartes left for the Netherlands, where Protestant and takes great care to hide their address has- not return to France for 16 years

 Some Researchers support Descartes adopted Bérulle as Director its consciousness, but it is unlikely, since Descartes backgrounds and beliefs (he was a Huguenot Province It was not a passionate Catholic, it was accused of to be a Rosicrucian, and he advocated religious tolerance and championed the use of reason)

he publication of the Discourse on Method and Tests has Descartes is very quickly known author throughout learned Europe. Too much, perhaps because if its philosophy (meaning thereby also the physical and, general sciences other than mathematics) it attracting enthusiastic followers, she is also for the same reasons, multiple attacks.


 The Dutch disciple of Descartes, Regius Henri Rey said, became, through Cartesian science, a renowned professor of medicine at the University of Utrecht. Students flocked to his classes, teachers deserting those most loyal to scholastic education.

The so-called Gisbert Voetius, then rector of the University of Utrecht and professor of theology, does not see a good progression of this eye at the expense of Cartesian scholasticism.

In a letter sent to Father Dinet, complaining of attacks of Bourdin's father (the Jesuits), Descartes commits the blunder of talk in terms quite hard maneuvers Gisbert Voet said Voetius, then rector University of Utrecht and Professor of Theology at Utrecht against Regius.

 It is well lit the fuse and triggered what would become the quarrel of Utrecht and will not cease to annoy, harass even unto the end, or substantially all of his stay in Holland. Complaints before the magistrates, multiple steps to defend themselves against accusations of Voetius and his followers, the endless red tape will make it up to consider leaving this country where he had come to seek peace, one of the few countries Europe where there are also valuable assets that freedom of conscience and worship, tolerance ... 

Cartesian philosophy could she rise on another ground than that of Holland? Never more than on this occasion Descartes seems to have become aware of both the magnitude of philosophy ("there is no study more beautiful, more worthy of man"), and persistent hostility it can sometimes bring.

Descartes said he went to the Netherlands enjoy a more freedom than was elsewhere and that avoid the distractions of Paris and friends so that could have the leisure and solitude to think (It had inherited enough money to live and property independently

Netherlands was a haven of tolerance, in which Descartes could be an original; independent thinker without fear of being burned at the stake, which was Italian philosopher Lucilio Vanini (1585-1619) for offers natural explanations of miracles or enlisted in the army and then continue the Catholic Cons-Reformation

 In France, however, religious intolerance together

 The Jews were expelled in 1615, and the last bastion of Protestant La Rochelle, was crushed by the participation BÃ © rule a few weeks just before Descartes departure

 In 1624 the French Parliament adopted a decree that prohibits criticism of Aristotle of pain over death

 Although Mersenne and philosopher Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) publishes the attacks against Aristotle without suffering persecution (they were, after all Catholic priests), they considered heretics continued to be burned, and the laity had no protection church

 In In addition, Descartes felt compromised by his Libertines friendship with intellectuals as a father Claude Picot (d  1668), a bon vivant known as " Atheist Priest, "with whom he has entrusted his financial Business in France

Residence in the Netherlands Descartes said he went to the Netherlands enjoy a more freedom than was elsewhere and that avoid the distractions of Paris and friends so that could have the leisure and solitude to think  (It had inherited enough money to live and property independently)

 Netherlands was a haven of tolerance, in which Descartes could be an original; independent thinker without fear of being burned at the stake, which was Italian philosopher Lucilio Vanini (1585-1619) for offers natural explanations of miracles or enlisted in the army and then continue the Catholic Cons-Reformation

 In France, however, religious intolerance together :  The Jews were expelled in 1615, and the last bastion of Protestant La Rochelle, was crushed by the participation BÃ © rule a few weeks just before Descartes departure.  In 1624 the French Parliament adopted a decree that prohibits criticism of Aristotle of pain over death.  Although Mersenne and philosopher Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) publishes the attacks against Aristotle without suffering persecution (they were, after all Catholic priests), they considered heretics continued to be burned, and the laity had no protection church.  In In addition, Descartes felt compromised by his Libertines friendship with intellectuals as a father Claude Picot (d  1668), a bon vivant known as " Atheist Priest, "with whom he has entrusted his financial Business in France

 In 1629, Descartes went to the University of Franeker in Frisia, where he lived in a Catholic family, and wrote his Meditations first draft

 He graduated to 1630th University of Leiden in 1631, he visited Denmark with the physician and alchemist Étienne de Villebressieu, who invented siege engines, a Mobile bridge, and a two-wheeled stretcher

 The physician Henri Regius (1598-1679), who taught Descartes views University of Utrecht in 1639, participating in a Descartes Hard controversy with the Calvinist theologian Gisbertus Voetius (1589-1676) which continued during the rest the life of Descartes

 In his letter to Voetius 1648; Descartes made a plea for tolerance religious human rights

 In Netherlands, during his 22 years stay there,  he lived in 18 different places : Dordrecht (1628), Franeker (1629), Amsterdam (1629–30), Leiden (1630), Amsterdam (1630–2), Deventer (1632–4), Amsterdam (1634–5), Utrecht (1635–6), Leiden (1636), Egmond (1636–8), Santpoort (1638–1640), Leiden (1640–1), (1641–3), and finally for an extended time in Egmond-Binnen (1643–1649).

Only countries in Europe where Descartes has never been : Spain, Portugal and Russia. I

 Descartes's last work before Sweden : Passions of the Soul (Les passions de l'âme)

 Descartes last work Les Passions de l'áme was written as a result of the correspondence which Descartes carried on with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. The work was written in French, and published in Amsterdam and Paris in 1649. This work (like the Principles) is composed of a large number of short articles. Princess Elisabeth had raised the question of how the soul could interact with the body in 1643. In response to Elisabeth's questions, Descartes wrote a short work which developed into the Passions of the Soul. The work is a combination of psychology, physiology and ethics, and contains Descartes' theory of two way causal interaction via the pineal gland.

Descartes in his Passions of the Soul as The Description of the Human Body unfinished treatise written in the 1640s ; suggested that the body works like a machine, that it has the material properties of extension and motion, and that it follows the laws of physics. The mind (or soul), on the other hand, was described as anonmaterial entity that lacks extension and motion, and does not follow the laws of physics. Descartes argued that only humans have minds, and that the mind interacts with the body at the pineal gland. This form of dualism or duality proposes that the mind controls the body, but that the body can also influence the otherwise rational mind, such as when people act out of passion. Most of the previous accounts of the relationship between mind and body had been uni-directional.

Descartes suggested that the pineal gland is "the seat of the soul" for several reasons. First, the soul is unitary, and unlike many areas of the brain the pineal gland appeared to be unitary (though subsequent microscopic inspection has revealed it is formed of two hemispheres). Second, Descartes observed that the pineal gland was located near the ventricles. He believed the cerebrospinal fluid of the ventricles acted through the nerves to control the body, and that the pineal gland influenced this process. Finally, although Descartes realized that both humans and animals have pineal glands (see Passions of the Soul Part One, Section 50, AT 369), he believed that only humans have minds. This led him to the belief that animals cannot feel pain, and Descartes' practice of vivisection (the dissection of live animals) became widely used throughout Europe until the Enlightenment. Cartesian dualism set the agenda for philosophical discussion of the mind–body problem for many years after Descartes' death

 Two months before the publication of the Passions Descartes set sail for Stockholm



 1644, 1647, and 1648, after 16 years in the Netherlands, Descartes returned to France for short periods of financial activities and helping with translations in French principles, meditation and objections and responses. (The translators were respectively Picot, Charles d'Albert, Duke of Luynes, and Claude Clerselier.)

In 1647, he met Gassendi and Hobbes, and he proposed to Pascal's famous experiment to take the barometer to the mountain Puy de Dome to determine the influence of air mass.Picot returned with Descartes in the Netherlands for the winter 1647-1648.

In Descartes' last visit to Paris in 1648, the French nobility rebelled against the Crown in a series of wars known as the Fronde.

Descartes left hurriedly August 17, 1648, just days before the death of his old friend Mersenne.

Clerselier brother-in-law, Hector Pierre Chanut, who was French resident in Sweden and later ambassador, helped to secure a pension for Descartes from Louis XIV, had it not been paid.Chanut later designed an invitation for Descartes to the court of Queen Christina, who by the end of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) became one of the monarchs largest and most powerful in Europe. 

 Descartes arrived in Stocholm on October 4, 1649

 Descartes' s life in Stockholm

 In early Västerlånggatan in the Old Town of Stockholm is a red four-story building in Baroque style, which called von der Lindeska house, named after the merchant Erik von der Linde, who had built it in 1630

You will notice the house, because it sticks up two kanonrör from the street on both sides of the gate. 

In  the Old Town and Riddarholmen Jacob Bagge street (Baggensgatan) who during the 1700s joined in the middle of "joy Quarter"  The street was lined with so-called "jungfruhus" and "Virgin cages" but there was probably no virgins, but it was the era euphemism for brothels  This was a 1700s brothel frequented routes in Stockholm  The most famous house and brothel owner was a captain at the name Magnus Ahlström who had a brothel in No  23 and headed by a brothel mother Plat Scanning  The area has suitable name, Cupid and Venus  Self-lived Magnus Ahlström at Rosendal Palace Jacob Bagge street during the 1700s was in the middle of "Pleasure quarters"  The street was lined with so-called "jungfruhus" and "Virgin cages" but there were no virgins, but it was the era euphemism for brothels  This was the 1700s famous brothel street in Stockholm  The most famous house and brothel owner was a captain at the name Magnus Ahlström who had a brothel in No  23 as secondary source of income but who lived on the Rosendal Palace  The area has suitable name, Cupid and Venus Construction Details as karnap / hanging tower now called the bay on the wall at Stora Nygatan 52  Later they came to play a purely decorative function  The four gargoyles in karnapet are carved in oak  Queen Christina had a house that stood there karnapshuset now  The house also lived for a time Rene Descartes

Descartes went reluctantly, arriving in early October 1649th He may have left because he needed protection, Fronde appears to have ruined his chances in Paris, and Calvinist theologians harassed in the Netherlands.

1649. Les passions de l'âme (Passions of the Soul). Dedicated to Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia.

Descartes went reluctantly, arriving early in October 1649.

In Sweden, where Descartes said in the winter to freeze the men thought like water, 22-year-old Christina has perverted the Descartes 53-year-old to get up before 5:00 to give her philosophy lessons, even if it knew about his habit of staying in bed until 11 o'clock in the morning.

She also said to have ordered him to write a ballet, the Birth Of Peace (1649), celebrating  9th, 2010 by admin

 (1649: La Naissance de la Paix par René Descartes ballet dansé au château royal de Stockholm le jour de la naissance de Sa Majesté ,  9th, 2010 by admin

He met Brégy, vicomte de Flécelles (1615-1689) French ambassador to Poand, in mlission in Stockholm in 1649, met often Descartes

its role in the peace of Westphalia, ending the Thirty Years War. Verses in reality it was not written by Descartes, but he wrote the articles of a Swedish Academy of Arts and Sciences. Although the provision of those laws to the queen at 05:00 1 February 1650, he caught a cold, and he soon developed pneumonia. He died in Stockholm on 1650 February 11. Many pious last words were attributed to him, but the most reliable report that his German valet, who said that Descartes was in a coma and died without saying anything at all.

Archives Descartes came into possession of Clerselier Claude, a devout Catholic who has begun the process of turning Descartes into a saint by cutting, adding and publishing his letters selectively.This cosmetic work culminated in 1691 in massive biography by Father Adrien Baillet, who was at work on a 17-volume, Lives of the Saints.


Queen Christina was a complex personality" (Stolpe 150). She lived a very interesting life with many problems along the way. Although Christina would provide major contributions to Sweden as a ruler, advocate of religious freedom, and as a patroness of the arts and sciences, she would also have many problems concerning those aspects as well as marriage and her sexuality (Philemon). "Christina's courage, her belief in rights and liberties, rare in her day, her recognition of religious and spiritual values, and her generosity went far to mitigate her glaring faults, which she paid for with a life of great unhappiness" (Masson 375).

Christina Wasa was born in Sweden on December 8, 1926 to King Gustav II Adolf andMaria Eleonora. She was predicted to be a boy, and even once she was born, was thought to be a boy. As her father's only child, she was declared to be his successor. While her father, King Gustav, was off fighting for Sweden in the Thirty Years War, Christina was tutored and Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna ruled Sweden until she would be able to take the throne (Philemon). While Christina enjoyed her

Queen Christina is a Pre-Code Hollywood feature film loosely based on the life of 17th centuryQueen Christina of Sweden, produced in 1933, directed by Rouben Mamoulian,[1] starring Swedish-born actress Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith and Lewis Stone.[2][3] It was billed as Garbo's return to cinema after an eighteen-month hiatus

The new ruler of Sweden was now the daughter and only child of Gustaf II Adolf, Christina. She was too young to be crowned after his death, and so Oxenstierna appointed a committee to rule Sweden in her place. In practice, the Alchemists had now gained total authority and only Oxenstierna controlled them. They were now free. like the later "Roundheads" of Britain or the Puritans of New England, to create their own Utopia. Another important necromancer at this time was the wealthy Dutch merchant Louis de Geer, who in 1627 arrived in Sweden. He was almost certainly the representative of the secret Rosicrucian Brotherhood, who, heirs to the Swiss treasure and lore of the Knights Templar, were soon to evolve into the Freemasons. Even before he arrived in Sweden de Geer had substantial control over the economy. He supervised the production of weapons and the mining industry. Under his direction the Walloons modernized and expanded it and made the Swedish iron production extremely profitable. 

From earliest infancy Queen Christina was interested in the arcane arts--and at the same time in Alchemical science. Another, second secret war was taking place within her breast. There is ample evidence that, like her father before her, she had been tutored by the now ancient and chronically ailing Bureus, who,  hunched over and shambling along on his crippled leg, swept the floors of the Royal Palace with his long white beard as he hobbled to keep each appointment with the precocious child-queen. He knew that the fate of magic--and of Sweden--might lie in the balance, for his ability to foresee the future through his rune-casting had warned him of what dangers were to come. While we know that Bureus dedicated to Christina a manuscript copy of his speculations on the mystical origin of the Runes, his Adulruna Rediviva, in 1643 and a copy of his great apocalyptic work, the Roar of the Northern Lion, in 1644, it is not known whether he showed her his reply to the Rosicrucian Fama, his Fama e Scanzia Redux of 1616, in which he subtly refutes the doctrine. Perhaps influenced by spiritual readings, Christina wanted to institute an Order of Immanuel in 1646, but her Alchemical advisor Johann Adler Salvius said it would be regarded as foolish and the idea never materialized. Worried by her interest in the spiritual (which was later to manifest itself in a sudden conversion to Catholicism), Salvius hit upon the idea of inviting to Sweden the foremost apostle of the New Age, the French philosopher Rene Descartes, in the hope that this towering intellectual figure (and secret Rosicrucian) would be able to curb her mystical yearnings. Prior to that that, Christina had also been approached by the alchemist Johannes Franck, who described her future reign as the fulfilment of Paracelsus’ prophecy of a return of Helias Artista and of Sendivogius’ vision of the rise of a metallic monarchy of the North. With these visions in store Franck urged on the Queen to start searching for the ruby red powder of the philosophers. He expressed these hopes in the tract that he offered her: Colloquium philosophcum cum diis montanis (Uppsala 1651). At about this time she induced the Greek specialist Johannes Schefferus to write a history of the Pythagoreans, which was published in Sweden a decade later asDe natura et constitutione philosophiae Italicae seu pythagoricae (Uppsala, 1664). Christina’s preference for Greek manuscripts was criticised by Descartes when he visited Stockholm in 1650. Christina said in reply that she thought his ideas were already formulated by the sceptic Sextus Empiricus and by St. Augustine. She also read a copy of Iamblichus’ De mysteriis aegyptiaca, a text that uses Platonic and Hermetic sources in its descriptions of theurgy and divination, methods of coming into contact with gods and demons.

 The terrible secret to the mystery of the death of René Descartes has been known only to a few Adepts of the Stockholm Chantry, and I may not fully betray it to the world. However, I can state the following: at the time of the offer from the Swedish Court, Descartes, who was living in impoverished circumstances in Holland. Condemned by the Catholic Church, the last vestiges of whose moral authority he had personally helped to destroy, he had ample cause to fear for his life, despite the protection offered by his powerful sponsors. Public murder of "enemies of the Church" by suicide-killers, most of them former priests, was a common weapon during the Wars of Religion--the Vatican had adopted the tactics of the ancient Muslim Assassins sect. Sweden seemed a perfect haven; moreover, the extravagant Christina, whose reckless spending was to bring her nation to the brink of bankruptcy, was offering a generous pension. At first Descartes was unwilling to go, but Salvius and his masters threatened him and he finally accepted the offer and travelled to Sweden.

After a short time in the country he died on February 11, 1650 in Stockholm, The cause of death was initially said to be pneumonia - accustomed to working in bed until noon, he may have suffered a detrimental effect to his health due to Christina's demands for early morning study. Others believe that Descartes may have contracted pneumonia as the result of nursing a French ambassador, ill with the aforementioned disease, back to health. However, letters to and from the doctor Eike Pies have recently been discovered which indicate that Descartes was poisoned by arsenic. Certainly, this is correct; however, the secret of his murderers' identities and motives must go with me to the grave. Certain it is, however, that the Brotherhood was implicated.

 As a Roman Catholic in a Protestant nation, Descartes was interred in a graveyard mainly used for unbaptized infants in Adolf Fredrikskyrkan in Stockholm. Later, his remains were taken to France and buried in the church of Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont in Paris. The memorial erected to him in the 18th century remains here in a local church. Swedish philosophy--that is to say, the propagandising of the Modernist Alchemical Utopia-- can be properly said to have begun with this introduction of Cartesianism. The villain of the movement was J. Bilberg (1646-1717), who, in various theses and discussions, defended the "new" ideas against the classical Aristotelianism and erudition of several Chantry members who, like their master Bureus, masqueraded as orthodox churchmen and academics. A. Rydelius (1671-1738), an intimate friend of Karl XII, later endeavoured to find a common ground for the opposing schools, but by then, of course, Sweden was lost. However, the Chantry itself survived as the result of the queen's earlier, esoteric conversion--not her well-known (as dramatized by Greta Garbo) embrace of the Catholic Church--but her rejection of the Chymical Wedding, which Salvius had pressed upon her in a transparent attempt to interest her in marriage and the production of an heir to the throne. The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz anno 1459) was edited in 1616 in Strasbourg, and its anonymous authorship is attributed to Johann Valentin Andreae. It is the third of the original manifestos of the mysterious "Fraternity of the Rose Cross" (Rosicrucians). It is an allegoric romance divided into Seven Days, or Seven Journeys, like Genesis, and tells us the manner in which Christian Rosenkreuz was invited to a wonderful castle full of miracles, in order to assist the Chymical Wedding of the king and the queen, that is, the husband and the bride. To no avail did Salvius protest that this text merely symbolized the union of the male and female ores or principles embodied in the Great Work; Christina maintained a pathological aversion to heterosexual carnality, considering herself masculine and thus fearful of "another man's" penetration. Here is the offending passage:

 "Meantime the King and Queen for recreation's sake, began to fall to play together. It looked not unlike chess, only it had other laws; for it was the Virtues and Vices one against another, where it might ingeniously be observed with what plots the Vices lay in wait for the Virtues, and how to re-encounter them again. This was so properly and artificially performed, that it were to be wished that we had the like game too. During the game, in comes Atlas again, and asks his report in private, yet I blushed all over, for my conscience gave me no rest; after which the King gave me the supplication to read, and contents whereof were much to this purpose. First he wished the King prosperity, and increase; that his seed might be spread abroad far and wide."

 Works in Sweden

 In his 54th year, Rene Descartes went to Stockholm at the invitation of Queen Christina. He caught pneumonia there and died on February 11, 1650. It is said that because Descartes refused to dance, Queen Christina charged him with writing the verses for a court ballet, La Naissance de la Paix. If Descartes did write the ballet, it would be the last work of his published during his lifetime. And because of its political content, it would be important as a guide for constructing Descartes’s political philosophy, which he certainly had but never published. And what a wonderful story! Alas, the evidence of Descartes’s authorship is virtually nonexistent. It reduces to the mere fact that he sent a copy of the published verses to a friend . . . in order, he said, to make the package heavier so it would not get lost. Almost certainly the ballet was written by Helie Poirier, a professional writer of French verse.

Death in Stockholm

 René Descartes died on 11 February 1650 in Stockholm, Sweden, where he had been invited as a teacher for Queen Christina of Sweden. The cause of death was said to be pneumonia—accustomed to working in bed until noon, he may have suffered a detrimental effect on his health due to Christina's demands for early morning study (the lack of sleep could have severely compromised his immune system). Others believe that Descartes may have contracted pneumonia as a result of nursing a French ambassador, Dejion A. Nopeleen, ill with the aforementioned disease, back to health.[10] In his recent book, Der rätselhafte Tod des René Descartes (The Mysterious Death of René Descartes),[11] the German philosopher Theodor Ebert[12] asserts that Descartes died not through natural causes, but from an arsenic-laced communionwafer given to him by a Catholic priest. He believes that Jacques Viogué, a missionary working in Stockholm, administered the poison because he feared Descartes' radical theological ideas would derail an expected conversion to Roman Catholicism by the monarch of Protestant Lutheran Sweden

The tomb of Descartes (middle, with detail of the inscription), in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris

As a Roman Catholic in a Protestant nation, he was interred in a graveyard mainly used for unbaptized infants in Adolf Fredriks kyrkan in Stockholm. Later, his remains were taken to France and buried in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris. Although the National Convention in1792 had planned to transfer his remains to the Panthéon, they are, two centuries later, still resting between two other graves—those of the scholarly monks Jean Mabillon and Bernard de Montfaucon—in a chapel of the abbey. His memorial, erected in the 18th century, remains in the Swedish church.

n early Västerlånggatan in the Old Town of Stockholm is a red four-story building in Baroque style, which called von der Lindeska house, named after the merchant Erik von der Linde, who had built it in 1630

You will notice the house, because it sticks up two kanonrör from the street on both sides of the gate. 

But much more remarkable with this house is that took place at the top of a winter night in 1650

A man, 54 years old, lay dying of pneumonia : René Descartes  

At his bed was a Dutch doctor named Wullens to make bloodletting  But the patient refused  He watched the doctor as an impostor The patient was Rene Descartes, who have been invited by Queen Kristina to teach her philosophy at five o'clock every Tomorrow at Stockholm castle

The scene took place in the French ambassador Pierre Chanute Housing : it was Chanut which mediated the queen's invitation  

But it was also he who infected the user with Descartes flu, which then developed into pneumonia Descartes doubted the drain, just as he doubted almost everything, except one thing: that he existed (Je pense, donc je suis)  It was Descartes who made up the old beliefs, including bloodletting, which had been prevalent in Europe since antiquity  Dr

Dr. Wullens belonged to the old school and had met Descartes already in Holland, which he had not Forgot  

Descartes had been in Holland for 20 years In the end, surrendered Descartes, and he accepted bloodletting three times  

But there was no improvement  He started rattling, breathing irregularly and spit black loskor before he finally gave up his life

The French ambassador Pierre Chanut came in a dilemma : he was partly responsible for the fact that Descartes arrives to this cold land of ice and bears  First, he must inform the world  He wrote a series of letters to leading figures in continent, such as Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, the former French foreign minister, etc

  Second, Chanut had to arrange funeral  Queen Christina wanted to Descartes would be buried in Riddarholmskyrkan together with the royal family dead  But there was a complication in that Descartes was Catholic  The Ambassador was therefore opposed to a funeral of one of the symbols of Lutheranism in Sweden Instead, the coffin was transported to a cemetery on the edge of Stockholm, namely Adolf cemetery  This cemetery was used mostly for foundlings; because the orphanage was located in the vicinity

 A detective story : the skull of Descartes

 Sixteen years later, in 1666, opened the tomb and Descartes' corpses were dug up  The new French ambassador Terlon, a loyal servant to Louis XIV, was a staunch Catholic  He also had a weakness for relics and interested more of Descartes's remains than for his teachings  Exhumation took place during the inspection of a contingent Swedish soldiers under the command of Captain Isaac Power Plan  The body had largely decomposed, so that the legs could be placed in a small copper casket  The whole process seemed to have proceeded complications  The ambassador, however, was worried that the coffin could be abducted on the way to France, where Cartesianism had grown strongly in Europe since the philosopher's death

The coffin was soon discovered, and Descartes was buried again in Sainte Geneviève kyrkan in Paris But even there the great philosopher could not rest in peace  

During the French Revolution was sacked churches  

A man named Lenoir took as his task to take care the famous men's graves and set up a National Monument with famous people  

This was approved by the revolutionary regime  

After the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the monarchy However, the museum was closed, and Descartes's remains were to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where they still are

But when the coffin was opened again in 1821 under the auspices of the French Academy made a startling discovery: The skull was missing !

Jons Jacob Berzelius, one of our top scientists in Enlightenment spirit   who was in Paris at the time, heard of this  

Back in Stockholm, he saw a notice in Aftonbladet teling that Descartes' skull had been  auctioned after the death of Professor Anders Sparrman, Linnaeus's disciple who had sailed with James Cook around the world, and was also Berzelius' predecessor.  

Berzelius took immediate contact with the auction firm and bought the skull for 17 or 18 dollars, the sum it had been put up for  

The skull was then returned to France and Berzelius mde a speech on the subject at the Academy of medicine as Associate member

How the skull came to reside in Stockholm has not beenrevealed  Nor is the evidence that it really is  Descartes' cranium, this is a thrilling detective story 


Descrtes and travels

first, Descartes' seemingly endless travels across the continent and his eventual isolation in voluntary exile; second, Descartes' own largely unflattering character; and third, the ubiquitous and sometimes menacing presence of religious authorities exercising an influence over Descartes' life and work, especially his scientific work.

The theme of travel emerges early in Clarke's book, and it persists to the end: "The fate of Descartes' remains reflects his life-long penchant for changing residence . . . " (412). While living, Descartes first left France in order to avoid one of the obvious careers for which his education had groomed him -- that of teacher, lawyer, or joining the clergy -- and he traveled for ten years (32-3). While he did continue his research during this time (33), one gets the sense that his journeys were unstructured and drifting (37, 93). Beeckman, one of his earliest close friends, "remarked, on one occasion, that Descartes suffered from wanderlust [peregrinandi cupidus]" (94). Descartes' portrayal, in the Discourse on Method, of his ten years of travel as quite purposeful seems, then, to have been a retrospective evaluation (94). Nonetheless, the time that Descartes spent out of France had an enormous impact on his thought and works. He saw travel as a replacement for study in schools and through books, of which he read few (35, 107, 177). Indeed, the fact that he owned very few books throughout his life certainly made it easier to move at the frantic pace he kept up (109). His aversion to the ideas of others extended to his avoidance of learned people (68). In fact, as he matured, he tended to avoid all contact with people, and his adult life was lived primarily in isolation.

Descartes'. . . frequent changes of address, and his almost obsessive efforts to conceal his precise location even from trusted friends, make [it plausible that his second departure from France was to avoid the customary distractions of a gentleman's life (such as visiting friends and attending court)]. (97)

So elusive was he that some spelled his name "Monsieur d'Escartes" (Mr. Evasion) (97). This frequent movement and his resulting isolation contributes to Clarke's characterization of Descartes as a lonely, yet somewhat unpleasant, figure: "He had become [by 1638] a reclusive, cantankerous, and oversensitive loner, who worried incessantly about his place in history and the priority he claimed for various discoveries" (180; see also 214, 249). It is true that Descartes slowed his pace of travel as he grew older; the winter of 1645-46 seems to have been a significant turning point in Descartes' life

 Voltaire on Descartes

  Nature had indulged Descartes with a shining and strong imagination, whence he became a very singular person both in private life and in his manner of reasoning. This imagination could not conceal itself even in his philosophical works, which are everywhere adorned with very shining, ingenious metaphors and figures. Nature had almost made him a poet; and indeed he wrote a piece of poetry for the entertainment of Christina, Queen of Sweden, which however was suppressed in honour to his memory.

  He embraced a military life for some time, and afterwards becoming a complete philosopher, he did not think the passion of love derogatory to his character. He had by his mistress a daughter called Froncine, who died young, and was very much regretted by him. Thus the experienced every passion incident to mankind.

  He was a long time of opinion that it would be necessary for him to fly from the society of his fellow creatures, and especially from his native country, in order to enjoy the happiness of cultivating his philosophical studies in full liberty.

  Descartes was very right, for his contemporaries were not knowing enough to improve had enlighten his understanding, and were capable of little else than of giving him uneasiness.

  He left France purely to go in search of truth, which was then persecuted by the wretched philosophy of the schools. However, he found that reason was as much disguised and depraved in the universities of Holland, into which he withdrew, as in his own country. For at the time that the French condemned the only propositions of his philosophy which were true, he was persecuted by the pretended philosophers of Holland, who understood him no better; and who, having a nearer view of his glory, hated his person the more, so that he was obliged to leave Utrecht. Descartes was injuriously accused of being an atheist, the last refuge of religious sceptics



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Date de dernière mise à jour : 28/07/2013

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