Chapter 14 “Accommoder la Théologie à ma façon de philosopher”

Descartes and Dutch Cartesians Interpreting the Bible

In: The Philosophers and the Bible
Antonella Del Prete
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This chapter aims to highlight Descartes’s different views on the relationship between philosophy and theology and the influence of his statements on Dutch Cartesianism. Despite a consolidated historiographical tradition, I will argue that there is no absolute separation between philosophy and theology in Descartes and the Dutch Cartesians. Undoubtedly, they take part in the philosophical and scientific movement, claiming philosophy and science to be independent of theology. Nonetheless, independence does not imply extraneity or opposition, but coexistence or even cooperation between these two subjects. However, a mere concordist interpretation of the Cartesian relationship between these disciplines is fundamentally wrong, being Descartes clearly claiming that he is accommodating theology to his own philosophy. Such a design grants a leading role to philosophy, thus genuinely defying the traditional subordination of philosophy to theology. His Dutch disciples accepted this challenge in their own way and transferred it into a different cultural and religious context, paving the way for a debate in which Spinoza was to take part not long afterwards.

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The Philosophers and the Bible

The Debate on Sacred Scripture in Early Modern Thought

Series:  Brill's Studies in Intellectual History, Volume: 333