||The Correspondence between Descartes and Henricus Regius
The Correspondence between Descartes and Henricus Regius / Jan Jacobus Frederik Maria Bos - [S.l.] : [s.n.], 2002 - Tekst. - Proefschrift Universiteit Utrecht
NBC: 08.24: nieuwe westerse filosofie
Trefwoorden: history of philosophy, history of medicine, correspondence, René Descartes, Henricus Regius, Claude Clerselier, history, philosophy, medicine
In 1638 the Dutch philosopher and physician Henricus Regius (1598-1679) introduced himself to René Descartes (1596-1650), allegedly because he owed his appointment as professor of theoretical medicine at Utrecht University to his being a Cartesian. During the following years Regius established himself as the main advocate of Cartesianism at Utrecht. In fact, he was the first university professor to teach Cartesian ideas and to publish a number of disputations, which provide a fairly complete picture of Cartesian natural philosophy.
Apart from De Vrijer's theological thesis of 1917 little has been done so far to establish the significance of Regius' work or study the way in which he took up Descartes' ideas and amalgamated them with his own. Although the necessary sources have become available in the past decades, there is as yet no comprehensive study on Regius and his relation to Descartes. A major obstacle to this enterprise is the defective state of the available editions of the Descartes-Regius correspondence. For a clear understanding of the relation between Descartes and Regius, and for an objective and thorough assessment of Regius' philosophical and medical concepts, a critical edition of the correspondence between Descartes and Regius is an essential prerequisite. It is here where the problems arise. The actual text of the letters which were exchanged between Descartes and Regius is unknown. In 1657, Claude Clerselier published 18 minutes of Descartes' part of the correspondence. All that remains of Regius' letters to Descartes are abstracts and quotations in Adrien Baillet's biography, published in 1691. In 1973, Esze published two unknown letters of Descartes to Regius. The order of the letters as they were published in the editions of Adam/Tannery (1964-1971: AT), Adam/Milhaud (1936-1963), Rodis-Lewis (1959) and Bordoli (1997) is based on that of Clerselier, but since the rediscovery of Regius' disputations Physiologia (1641) scholars have contested the dates of various letters. However, none of the editors so far has extensively used Regius' disputations as a means to arrive at a more exact date.
The aim of my research is to provide a critical reconstruction of the correspondence between Descartes and Regius. The most dramatic differences with previous editions concern Descartes' part of the correspondence. I have discovered that several letters as published by Clerselier consist in fact of fragments of many more letters. Further, I have revised almost every date established by AT, either narrowing them down or giving the letters an altogether new place in the correspondence. One of the most interesting features of the present edition is that it points out the many reoccurring passages from Descartes' letters in Regius' Physiologia (the complete text of the first three disputations of the Physiologia is given in an appendix). As regards Regius' letters to Descartes, in many cases I have been able to establish their precise date. Moreover, in clearing Baillet's at times confused way of presentation, I have arrived at an order of Regius' letters and their context which sharply contrasts with the standard view. In addition, my examination of Baillet's biography has yielded several passages relevant to Regius' letters which are not found in AT. Finally, the use of the many available sources, both published and unpublished, has resulted in a comprehensive historical annotation, conspicuously absent in AT, on the specific Dutch and especially Utrecht context of the relation between Regius and Descartes.