chapter  2
23 Pages

The Shift From Church Authority to Rationalism

The Times and Philosophy of René Descartes
ByBrian D. Cox

This chapter aims to evaluate the influence of Descartes’s work on the development of modern scientific thought in general and psychology in particular. This is a presentist statement as it involves weighting certain aspects of Descartes’s writing in the context of today’s knowledge and perhaps gives him a bit more credit than he deserves. In discussing how the body works, Descartes first examines why God would make us in such a way that our senses were fallible. The task of scholars in the Middle Ages had been to reconcile the teachings of two kinds of old knowledge: The Bible, as interpreted by the church fathers, of whom St. Augustine was the most influential, and the works of the classical philosophers, of whom Plato and above all, Aristotle, were considered the greatest.