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Matters of ExchangeCommerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age$
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Harold J. Cook

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780300117967

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300117967.001.0001

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Medicine and Materialism

Medicine and Materialism

Descartes in the Republic

(p.226) 6 Medicine and Materialism
Matters of Exchange

Harold J. Cook

Yale University Press

This chapter describes how Dutch moral philosophers were forced to contemplate a world governed not by reason but by passions from wealth brought about by violence and trade. Rene Descartes found his attention increasingly being drawn toward these debates, resulting in the development of his explanation of how the passions arose from the material world itself and became the main source of human behavior and thought. Some Dutch physicians took his position a step farther, resulting in a full-fledged materialist view maintaining that we are governed by matter in motion, and nothing else. Nature was the source of great benefits, from health and wealth to happiness and love. This position, however, negated the view that we should be governed by rational virtue and led to an enormous backlash from the religious against the new philosophers.

Keywords:   new philosophy, Dutch moral philosophers, violence, wealth, human abilities, material form, Rene Descartes, materialist view, matter in motion, rational virtue

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