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The Scottish Faculties of Arts and Cartesianism (1650-1700)

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Gellera Giovanni,
Project Tolerance, Intolerance and Discrimination Regarding Religion
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal History of Universities
Page(s) 166 - 187
Title of proceedings History of Universities
DOI 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198803621.001.0001


This chapter examines the reception of Cartesianism in Scottish universities during the seventeenth century. While the dissemination of Cartesianism in Europe was always followed by debates about its orthodoxy, the majority of the faculties of arts in these universities thought that there was a ‘good’ Descartes and that Cartesianism could replace and improve, in fundamental continuity, the fading Aristotelian tradition. The reception of Cartesianism in the Scottish faculties of arts at once brings to the fore features of the long tradition of Scottish philosophy and instructs us on the pre-Enlightenment ethos of the universities. As such, the chapter seeks to contextualize Scottish Cartesianism against the wider European dimension. It then presents in chronological order Scottish Cartesianism’s establishment, apogee, and gradual crystallization as the theoretical framework of later philosophy.