CultureLab • International Seminar

Simone D’Agostino

Logic as a Way of Life in Descartes and the Cartesians

15 May | 4 PM (UTC+1)

11 AM New York
12 PM Brasília
4 PM Lisbon
5 PM Berlin
For other locations click here.


Michel Foucault in The Hermeneutic of the Subject notoriously pointed out that under the notion of “reform of the intellect” between the late Renaissance and early modernity, the problem of access to truth was linked to a “series of requirements concerning the subject’s very being.” Thus, in his words, “the question of the relation between the conditions of spirituality and the problem of the development of truth and the method for arriving at it was posed.” (Foucault 2005, 27) My claim is that already with Francis Bacon, but then especially in René Descartes and some of the most notable philosophers of the Cartesian age, not only Baruch Spinoza and Ehrenfried W. von Tschirnhaus, but also John Locke and Nicolas de Malebranche, the reform of the intellect and the search for the method for arriving at truth were conducted as a reform of logic. In my talk, I will leave out the Spinozian strand and focus mainly on Descartes’ Discourse on Method (1637) and John Locke’s Conduct of the Understanding (1706).


Simone D’Agostino is Full professor of History of Early Modern Philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome. He has worked on the reception of Aristotle in nineteenth-century French spiritualism (Maine de Biran, Ravaisson, Blondel), focusing his research on phronesis, theory of action and habits. More recently he has turned his research to the tradition of Philosophy as a way of life in the Early Modern time (Montaigne, Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Tschirnhaus, Malebranche). In 2023 he published Spiritual Exercises and Early Modern Philosophy: Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza (Philosophy as a Way of Life: Texts and Studies 3, Leiden — Boston: Brill).

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Event supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e para a Tecnologia) of the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science within the scope of the CultureLab research project “Mapping Philosophy as a Way of Life: An Ancient Model, A Contemporary Approach” (2022.02833.PTDC).