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Cartesians, Gassendists, And Censorship

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Chapter Summary

During the second half of the seventeenth century, Cartesians suffered a series of condemnations issuing from various authorities in France. The condemnations aimed at several fundamental propositions of corpuscularianism and the mechanical philosophy, such as the denial of substantial forms and real qualities. Gassendism, the revival of Epicurean atomism, was for similar reasons equally incompatible with the same mysteries, as was the Gassendist doctrine of matter and space. With the Jesuits conspiring in the background, as was allegedly their fashion, the Catholic church in 1663 put Descartes' works on the Index of Prohibited Books with the notation, until corrected. the prohibition was as effective as the Catholic Church could make it, but it did not have any authority in the Protestant world. It did not even have authority in Catholic countries such as France,where censorship was the domain of temporal powers: the King and individual universities.

Keywords: Cartesianism; Cartesians; Catholic Church; censorship; Descartes; Epicurean atomism; Gassendists; Protestants

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