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Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy


The Dutch mathematician and engineer Simon Stevin (1548–1620) wrote a political handbook, Vita Politica (1590), in which he provided essential guidance for civic life amid the religious and political turbulence of the Eighty Years War. Descartes was certainly influenced by Stevin in mathematics, and this paper examines the possibility that some aspects of Stevin’s political thought influenced Descartes in his formulation of the provisional morality in the Discourse on Method. The evidence is circumstantial, but the intellectual affinity between Stevin and Descartes is striking nonetheless. In any case, given Stevin’s importance in the emergence of the mathematical science of nature, his political thought deserves more consideration than it customarily receives from those interested in early modern philosophy.


© Interpretation. Reproduced with permission.

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