Daniel Garber
Pages 101-110
DOI: 10.5840/cultura2005229


As I write these words, I am sitting in a hotel room in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Three-hundred fifty years ago, or so, this area was frequented by my people. I don’t mean my ancestors, who were in an altogether different part of Europe, doing very different things. I mean the people 1 study. In early and mid-seventeenth-century Paris you could find many of the people who made science and philosophy what it is today. Descartes lived here for a while; though he moved away, he came back from time to time, and his spirit (immaterial, of course) haunted these streets for many years. Pascal lived here, around the corner, actually. Mersenne lived across the river, in a neighborhood to which one could walk in half an hour or forty-five minutes. I don’t know where Hobbes lived during the crucial decade of his life that he spent here, but it must have been close; Paris wasn’t that big back then. Ditto for Gassendi. A few years later Leibniz was to visit for three short years that shaped the rest of his intellectual life.

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