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Verbeek, Theo, editor. Johannes Clauberg (1622-1665) and Cartesian Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century.

International Archives of the History of Ideas, vol. 164. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999. vi + 207 pp. Cloth, $103.00 -- Johannes Clauberg has always been recognized as an important figure between the new and the antique philosophy, but little has been done to assess his significance. The volume edited by Theo Verbeek is the first aimed at exploring Clauberg's position with respect to Cartesianism and the ramifications of his own arguments. It contains the papers delivered at a colloquium in Groningen in 1995. A first group of articles deals with Clauberg's first metaphysical construction, his Ontosophia (1646). Ulrich Gottfried Leinsle examines the sources of the Ontosophia in the Pansophia of Comenius, V. Carraud investigates the variants of the various editions of the Ontosophia until 1664 outlining the difficulties of conciliating ontology and theory of subjectivity, Jean-Christophe Bardout its impact on Malebranche, and Jean Ecole on Wolff. A second group of articles deals with problems of knowledge. Aza Goudriaan writes about Clauberg's position on the knowledge of God, L. Spruit on perceptual knowledge, and Detlev Patzold on causality. Claude Weber delves into Clauberg's attempt of providing a systematic description of the etymology of the German language, Theo Verbeek into Clauberg's activity as a teacher of Descartes's Principia philosophiae, and Christia Mercer into Clauberg's notion of corporeal substance. Michael Albrecht, finally, considers the impact of Clauberg's work from the peculiar and nonetheless very proper standpoint of "eclectic philosophy." A biographical and bibliographical sketch by Theo Verbeek concludes the volume.

Nobody will dispute that Cartesian philosophy belongs to the history of metaphysics. Yet its belonging there has something paradoxal, because Descartes never elaborated on the issue of ens in quantum ens, and especially because Descartes's first philosophy constituted itself in radical opposition to Post-Tridentine Catholic and Protestant scholastic philosophy. Besides, the term "ontology" itself did not exist in ancient Greek; it was a neologism that appeared first in 1612 in the Lexicon philosophicum by the Calvinist Rudolph Goclenius, which brought Clauberg, who was also a Calvinist, given his temporal and confessional proximity to Goclenius, to be the very first to publish a treatise carrying "ontology" in the title. The problem was that Clauberg considered himself as both a Cartesian and a defender of ontology. How can that work? Can ontology admit the ego in its singularity as its first foundation? What is the interest for the cogito from a scholastic point of view? (p. 13-14). Clauberg's answer was simple: conciliation, that is, to attempt the resolution of contradictions between isolated philosophical theses taken from various contexts and enunciated in form of antilogies in order to answer an initial question. In fact, Clauberg's Metaphysica de Ente (the third edition of the Ontosophia, which appeared in 1664) marks the beginning of the so-called Cartesian scholastic (p. 14), which is indeed a form of Cartesian Aristotelianism.--Riccardo Pozzo, The Catholic University of America.
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Author:Pozzo, Riccardo
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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