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Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason

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Immortalist

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May 25, 2009, 9:18:09 PM5/25/09
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In 1666, sixteen years after his death, the bones of René Descartes
were dug up in the middle of the night and transported from Sweden to
France under the watchful eye of the French Ambassador. This was only
the beginning of the journey for Descartes' bones, which, over the
next 350 years, were fought over, stolen, sold, revered as relics,
studied by scientists, used in séances, and passed surreptitiously
from hand to hand.

But why would anyone care so much about the remains of one long-dead
philosopher? The answer lies in Descartes' famous phrase cogito, ergo
sum: "I think, therefore I am." At the root of this statement are
skepticism and the world-shattering notion that one could look to
facts that could be proved for truth rather than relying on the
Church's teachings and tradition.

In the years that followed, this powerful idea and Descartes' physical
remains became intertwined with many of the major forces that define
the modern era, influencing everything from the religious wars of the
seventeenth century and the rise of democracy to today's greatest
conflicts, such as the struggle between Islamic fascism and the
Western world.

http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9780385517539

1637 - Descartes's most famous utterance—“I think, therefore I am”—has
been knocked around and knocked off (“I think, therefore I shop”; “I
think, therefore I drink”; etc.) untold times since it first appeared
in his Discourse on Method, published in 1637. The
discourse ...stolen, sold, bequeathed, misplaced, discussed, examined,
verified, and even taken for a brief appearance in Japan. Descartes's
most famous utterance—“I think, therefore I am”—has been knocked
around and knocked off (“I think, therefore I shop”; “I think,
therefore I drink”; etc.) untold times since it first appeared in his
Discourse on Method, published in 1637. The discourse, “written not in
Latin but in French so that, its author asserted, it could be read by
laypersons (French ...

1650 - In 1650, the 53-year-old Descartes died while in Stockholm, and
he was buried there. Sixteen years later, the French ambassador Hugues
de Terlon secretly unearthed Descartes' bones and transported them to
France, except for an index finger kept as a relic.Yet as Russell
Shorto relates in Descartes' Bones, this Frenchman's physical remains—
as well as his ideas—traveled a distinctive road in the centuries
after his death... The great man's physical remains have been dug up
and reburied several times since he died in Sweden in 1650. Initially
they were moved for the purpose of repatriating him to his native
France, ...During the course of their bizarre posthumous travels,
Descartes' skull and the rest of his skeleton parted ways.

the bones of Rene Descartes were dug up in the middle of the night and
transported from Sweden to France under the watchful eye of the French
ambassador. This was only the beginning of the journey for Descartes'
bones, which, over the next 350 years, were fought over, sold, stolen,
revered as relics, studied by scientists, used in séances, and passed
surreptitiously from hand to hand.

In 1667, his remains were taken to Paris and buried in the Church of
St. Genevieve-du-Mont. During the French Revolution, his remains were
disinterred for burial in the Pantheon in Paris among the great French
thinkers. His tomb is now in the church of St ...In 1667, his remains
were taken to Paris and buried in the Church of St. Genevieve-du-Mont.
During the French Revolution, his remains were disinterred for burial
in the Pantheon in Paris among the great French thinkers. His tomb is
now in the church of St. Germain-des-Pres. The French treasurer
general, who supervised the move of the body, kept the bones from
Descartes' right hand as a personal souvenir. Descartes' skull is
preserved in the Musee de 1'Homme in Paris, France ...

1819 - Or was he a vestige of the old world of religious intolerance
and oppression? Descartes' bones were kept in safe storage [though how
safe is open to debate] until he was again put to rest at St.
Genevieve's in 1819. But even this simple act would not pass
without ...Or was he a vestige of the old world of religious
intolerance and oppression? Descartes' bones were kept in safe storage
[though how safe is open to debate] until he was again put to rest at
St. Genevieve's in 1819. But even this simple act would not pass
without later controversy. Shorto, I think, enjoyed the irony that the
sleep of the modern father of reason was at least temporarily
interrupted by forces unleashed by the Goddess of Reason.

http://www.amazon.com/Descartes-Bones-Skeletal-History-Conflict/dp/038551753X/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243299755&sr=1-5


http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=descartes+bones&aq=f

Timothy 1:4a

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May 25, 2009, 10:28:19 PM5/25/09
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Ironic, of course, that the apostle of reason would have veneration
vultures fighting over his bones.

These bone merchants are cousins to those Christians who collectively
believe that Jesus' grandmother Saint Anne had (at least) seven heads.
The heads are displayed and venerated at Lyons, Apt-en-Provence, Aix-
La-Chapelle, and Chartres in France; in Bologna and Sicily in Italy;
and in Duren in the German Rhineland.

> http://www.amazon.com/Descartes-Bones-Skeletal-History-Conflict/dp/03...
>
> http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=descartes+bo...

Ed Cryer

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May 26, 2009, 7:07:08 AM5/26/09
to

"Immortalist" <reanima...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:dcb569de-232d-429d...@p21g2000prn.googlegroups.com...
In 1666, sixteen years after his death, the bones of Ren� Descartes

were dug up in the middle of the night and transported from Sweden to
France under the watchful eye of the French Ambassador. This was only
the beginning of the journey for Descartes' bones, which, over the
next 350 years, were fought over, stolen, sold, revered as relics,
studied by scientists, used in s�ances, and passed surreptitiously
from hand to hand.

But why would anyone care so much about the remains of one long-dead
philosopher? The answer lies in Descartes' famous phrase cogito, ergo
sum: "I think, therefore I am." At the root of this statement are
skepticism and the world-shattering notion that one could look to
facts that could be proved for truth rather than relying on the
Church's teachings and tradition.

*********************************
***********************************
********************************

"In 1660, two years after his death, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously
executed for sanctioning the beheading of Charles I. But was the body
hanged from the gallows at Tyburn that of England's former Lord
Protector and where did it find its final resting place?ONE of the
greatest mysteries in English history is what happened to the body of
Oliver Cromwell after his death in 1658."
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-10309918.html

Cromwell was a "baddie"; Descartes a "goodie". And with excellently
reasons.

OK, so "cogito ergo sum" is rightly famous and revered, but Descartes'
claim to fame in philosophy is greater than than. What he did was "start
over". He started from scratch. Ignored all the centuries of scholastic
musings, hit upon a way to escape total scepticism and pushed on. The
father of modern philosophy (le p�re de la philosophie moderne). You'll
find that this was very quickly recognised amongst contemporaries, and
he became the authority you were up against, somewhat as Aristotle had
been to scholastic philosophers.

Ed


dorayme

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May 26, 2009, 7:57:30 AM5/26/09
to
In article <gvgiij$4b4$1...@aioe.org>, "Ed Cryer" <e...@somewhere.in.the.uk>
wrote:

> OK, so "cogito ergo sum" is rightly famous and revered, but Descartes'
> claim to fame in philosophy is greater than than. What he did was "start
> over". He started from scratch. Ignored all the centuries of scholastic
> musings, hit upon a way to escape total scepticism and pushed on. The

> father of modern philosophy (le p�re de la philosophie moderne). You'll


> find that this was very quickly recognised amongst contemporaries, and
> he became the authority you were up against, somewhat as Aristotle had
> been to scholastic philosophers.

And boy o boy o boy was his project a bankrupt one!

--
dorayme

Don Phillipson

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May 26, 2009, 8:40:24 AM5/26/09
to
"Immortalist" <reanima...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:dcb569de-232d-429d...@p21g2000prn.googlegroups.com...

> In 1666, sixteen years after his death, the bones of Ren� Descartes


> were dug up in the middle of the night and transported from Sweden to

> France under the watchful eye of the French Ambassador. . . .

Why should anyone suppose this true? As described here, this
exhumation was approved by the local authorities and the French
ambassador in order to repatriate the remains. Why should this
task be undertaken "in the middle of the night" rather than in
daylight, so people could see what they were doing??

--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)


Timothy 1:4a

unread,
May 28, 2009, 12:56:44 AM5/28/09
to
On May 26, 8:40 am, "Don Phillipson" <e...@SPAMBLOCK.ncf.ca> wrote:
> "Immortalist" <reanimater_2...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
>
> news:dcb569de-232d-429d...@p21g2000prn.googlegroups.com...
>
> > In 1666, sixteen years after his death, the bones of René Descartes

> > were dug up in the middle of the night and transported from Sweden to
> > France under the watchful eye of the French Ambassador. . . .
>
> Why should anyone suppose this true?  As described here, this
> exhumation was approved by the local authorities and the French
> ambassador in order to repatriate the remains.  Why should this
> task be undertaken "in the middle of the night" rather than in
> daylight, so people could see what they were doing??
>
> --
> Don Phillipson
> Carlsbad Springs
> (Ottawa, Canada)

Everyone including Wikipedia seems to agree he was disinterred and
moved to France in 1666. Partly because, as a Catholic in a Protestant
country, he was buried in a dishonorable graveyard usually reserved
for unbaptised babies.

I don't see it stated here that the local Swedish authorities
approved. However if they did, then the ambassador and the Swedes
probably agreed to dig and remove at night to avoid scandal among, or
interference from, the hoi polloi.

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