My Research: The Elevator Pitch


My interest in early modern philosophy began with myths associated with Descartes. I was initially puzzled by how Descartes became known as the arch-rationalist. I wrote my dissertation in this vein, exploring how experimentalism and empiricism were used in the Cartesian school of thought. Ultimately, I argue that Descartes and his followers developed a two-fold methodology which embraced rationalism only in certain well-defined categories and a robust dependence on experiment everywhere else.


This type of work led me to explore a different myth, perpetuated by scholars and Descartes contemporaries, that there was a monolithic position called “Cartesianism.” Here I have been focused on exploring some of the lesser known Cartesians who, among other things, adopted a Cartesian natural philosophy to explain “occult” sciences like astrology, divination, and other strange phenomena. These types of cases are often glossed over. But, if we take them seriously, they undercut many interpretations of early modern scientific explanation and method.


My long-term project is a study of philosophical interpretation and history of philosophy's own methodology across the 17th century.