On Cartesianism & Against It

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Col. 2:8

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:”

1 Jn. 4:1

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said…?'”

Gen. 3:1



Order of Contents

History of Cartesianism in the Post-Reformation
.      In Scotland
On Particular Aspects of Cartesianism

Against Cartesianism
.     English
.     Latin
.     French



On the History of Cartesianism in the Post-Reformation Era



Revius, Jacob – Jacobus Revius, A Theological Examination of Cartesian Philosophy: Early Criticisms (1647)  ed. Aza Goudriaan  (Leiden: Brill, 2002)

Revius (1586-1658) was a reformed professor of theology at Leiden (1641-†1658).


Secondary Sources



McGahagan, Th.A. – Cartesianism in the Netherlands, 1639–1676; the New Science & the Calvinist Counter-Reformation  PhD diss.  (Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1976)

Verbeek, Theo – Descartes & the Dutch: Early Reactions to Cartesian Philosophy, 1637-1650  Ref  (Southern Illinoise Univ. Press, 1992)  168 pp.

ed. Verbeek, Theo – Johannes Clauberg (1622-1665) & Cartesian Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century  in International Archives of the History of Ideas  Pre  (Springer-Science, 1999)  200 pp.



Schmaltz, Tad M.

Receptions of Descartes: Cartesianism & Anti-Cartesianism in Early Modern Europe  (Routledge, 2005)  Ref

Early Modern Cartesians: Dutch & French Constructions  Pre  (Oxford, 2017)

Goudriaan, Aza – Reformed Orthodoxy & Philosophy, 1625–1750: Gisbertus Voetius, Petrus Van Mastricht, And Anthonius Driessen  Buy  (Brill, 2006)

“…focuses on the relationship of theology and philosophy as formulated in the thought of three key Dutch Reformed theologians…   All three were at the forefront of the philosophical debates that swirled in the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially instigated by the arrival of Renee Descartes (1596–1650) in the Netherlands in 1628…  By studying these three theologians, Goudriaan “seeks to understand better how Dutch Reformed theology integrated and responded to philosophical views in the period from 1625 through 1750.

Voetius, professor of theology at the University of Utrecht, was initially the premier defender against the Cartesian encroachment upon the Dutch Reformed Church that sought to undermine both her theology and piety. This mantle would be taken up by his successor at the university, Petrus van Mastricht. As might be expected, Goudriaan demonstrates that Voetius and Mastricht were in essential agreement with one another in their theology and polemic against Cartesianism as they engaged it from distinctly Reformed premises and commitments.

Goudriaan deals successively with specific loci where the relationship between theology and philosophy was acutely tried and tested, including: reason and revelation; creation and the physical world; the providential rule of God over the world; anthropological issues of the relationship between the soul and the body; and divine and natural law. He notes that both Voetius and Mastricht had aligned themselves with the older Aristotelian philosophy against the newer Enlightenment philosophy, yet the debate was not waged over whose philosophical system was correct. This in itself would have been a losing concession, for it was precisely their aim that Reformed theology not be corrupted by alien philosophical concepts or categories that ultimately undermined Scriptural authority and teaching.

Philosophy was instead viewed by them as an instrument or servant of the most basic Reformed principle, namely, the authority of Scripture as their principium cognoscendi. For them Scripture was not subordinated to philosophy, but philosophy to Scripture. This starting point alone accounted for the full-orbed nature of creation with its rich diversity, including spirits and bodies, heaven and earth, which Cartesian dualism could not account for or bring into any real, dynamic relation. Because of this common commitment to the Reformed principle of Scripture’s authority, Goudriaan observes, “the theological development from Voetius to Driessen supports the broader claim that biblical Christianity outlives the philosophical and conceptual apparatus with whose help it is explained.”  To put it another way, philosophy was not the indispensable lord of theology, but its disposable handmaiden—it would, therefore, continue even when philosophies changed or failed.” – Daniel Ragusa

Ariew, Roger – Descartes Among the Scholastics  in History of Science & Medicine Library, vol. 20  Pre  (Brill, 2011)

Schlebusch, J.A. – Cartesianism & Reformed Scholastic Theology: A Comparative Study of the Controversy  a Master’s thesis  (Univ. of the Free State, South Africa, 2013)  160 pp.  Includes a translation of two chapters of Christopher Wittich’s Two Dissertations in ch. 3, and of two chapters of Peter van Mastricht’s Vindication of the Truth, which reply to Wittich, in ch. 4.



Bizer, Ernst – ‘Reformed Orthodoxy & Cartesianism’ in Journal for Theology and the Church, vol. 2, Translating Theology into the Modern Age, ed., Robert Funk  Buy  (New York, 1965)

“The Reformed scholastics in the Netherlands, including Mastricht, were first introduced into the English world with Ernst Bizer’s essay that was translated from the German in 1965.  This was the primary source at the time in English on conservative Calvinism in the Dutch Republic.  He purports a pro-Cartesian interpretation of the Dutch Reformed theologians and argues that while Mastricht and others opposed Cartesianism, they were nevertheless ‘bound to confuse their outmoded worldview with their faith [and] their concept of truth was closer to the ‘new philosophy’ than is suspect.’  This view, however, has been challenged by more recent scholarship.” – Daniel Ragusa

Raffe, Alasdair – ‘Intellectual Change Before the Enlightenment: Scotland, the Netherlands & the Reception of Cartesian Thought, 1650-1700’  The Scottish Historical Review, vol. 94; no. 238, pt. 1 (April 2015), pp. 24-47

Ragusa, Daniel – ‘Catching up on Petrus van Mastricht’  (2018)  ReformedForum

This deals significantly with the historical reception of Cartesianism in reformed theology.

Douglas, Alexander – ‘Spinoza & the Dutch Cartesians on Philosophy & Theology’  in Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 51, No. 4, Oct. 2013

Gellera, Giovanni – ‘English Philosophers & Scottish Academic Philosophy (1660–1700)’  (2017)



Cartesianism in Scotland in the Post-Reformation


Raffe, Alasdair – ‘Intellectual Change Before the Enlightenment: Scotland, the Netherlands & the Reception of Cartesian Thought, 1650-1700’  The Scottish Historical Review, vol. 94; no. 238, pt. 1 (April 2015), pp. 24-47

Gellera, Giovanni

‘Descartes in Scotland & Pre-Enlightenment Scottish Philosophy’

‘The Scottish Faculties of Arts & Cartesianism (1650-1700)’  History of Universities XXIX (2), pp. 166-187

‘English Philosophers & Scottish Academic Philosophy (1660–1700)’  (2017)

‘Robertson’s Philosophical Theses (1596): between Late Renaissance & Early Modern Scholasticism’  eds. Alexander Broadie & J.S. Reid, Philosophical Discourse in Seventeenth-Century Scotland: Key Texts  (Scottish History Society)

‘The Philosophy of Robert Forbes: A Scottish Scholastic Response to Cartesianism’  Journal of Scottish Philosophy 11(2) (Sept., 2013): 191-211

Abstract: “In the second half of the seventeenth century, philosophy teaching in the Scottish universities gradually moved from scholasticism to Cartesianism.  Robert Forbes, regent at Marischal College and King’s College, Aberdeen, was a strenuous opponent of Descartes.  The analysis of the philosophy of Forbes and of his teacher Patrick Gordon sheds light on the relationship between Scottish Reformed scholasticism and the reception of Descartes in Scotland.”

‘The Reception of Descartes in the Seventeenth-Century Scottish Universities: Metaphysics & Natural Philosophy (1650-1680)’  Journal of Scottish Philosophy  (2015)

“In 1685, during the heyday of Scottish Cartesianism (1670-90), regent Robert Lidderdale from Edinburgh University declared Cartesianism the best philosophy in support of the Reformed faith. It is commonplace that Descartes was ostracised by the Reformed, and his role in pre-Enlightenment Scottish philosophy is not yet fully acknowledged. This paper offers an introduction to Scottish Cartesianism, and argues that the philosophers of the Scottish universities warmed up to Cartesianism because they saw it as a newer, better version of their own traditional Reformed scholasticism, chiefly in metaphysics and natural philosophy.”

‘Common Sense & Ideal Theory in 17th Century Scottish philosophy’  in ed. C.B. Bow, Common Sense in the Scottish Enlightenment  (Oxford, 2018)

Abstract: “In the 19c James McCosh and many others identified the Common Sense school with ‘Scottish philosophy’ tout court: the supposedly collective ‘Scottish’ reply to Hume was the rejection of scepticism and Ideal Theory. This paper addresses the anticipations of the Common Sense school and its broader place in the history of Scottish philosophy. The 17c Scottish philosophers reacted to Cartesian scepticism with epistemological views which anticipate Thomas Reid: direct realism and perception as a faculty of judgment. Common sense-like views seem to have been a popular strategy against scepticism already before the Common Sense school, thus providing additional evidence for McCosh’s claim of the special role of common sense in the history of Scottish philosophy.”

Hamid, Nabeel – ‘Domesticating Descartes, Renovating Scholasticism: Johann Clauberg & the German Reception of Cartesianism’  in History of Universities 30/2 (2020), pp. 57-84

Abstract: “This article studies the academic context in which Cartesianism was absorbed in Germany in the mid-seventeenth century.  It focuses on the role of Johann Clauberg (1622-1665), first rector of the new University of Duisburg, in adjusting scholastic tradition to accommodate Descartes’ philosophy, thereby making the latter suitable for teaching in universities. It highlights contextual motivations behind Clauberg’s synthesis of Cartesianism with the existing framework such as a pedagogical interest in Descartes as offering a simpler method, and a systematic concern to disentangle philosophy from theological disputes.

…it argues that Clauberg nevertheless retains an Aristotelian conception of ontology for purely philosophical reasons, specifically, to give objective foundations to Descartes’s metaphysics of substance.  In conclusion, Clauberg should not be assimilated either to Aristotelianism or to Cartesianism or, indeed, to syncretic labels such as ‘Cartesian Scholastic’.  Instead, he should be read as transforming both schools by drawing on a variety of elements in order to address issues local to the academic milieu of his time.”



On Particular Aspects of Cartesianism

Order of Contents

Epistemology & Metaphysics
Natural Theology
God & Causality
Faith & Reason
Angels & Spirits

In Latin:

Infinity of the World
Motion of the Earth, Astronomy & Natural Things


On Atheism

Verbeek, Th.

‘Descartes & the Problem of Atheism: The Utrecht Crisis’  NAK/DRCH 71 (1991), pp. 211–223

‘From ‘Learned Ignorance’ to Scepticism. Descartes & Calvinist Orthodoxy’  in eds. R.H. Popkin & A.J. Vanderjagt, Scepticism & Irreligion in the Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries  (Brill, 1993), pp. 31–45


On Scepticism


Del Prete, Antonella – ‘Against Descartes: Marten Schoock’s De scepticismo  in ed. G. Paganini, The Return of Scepticism from Hobbes & Descartes to Bayle  (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003), pp. 135-148

Schook (1614-1669) was a professor of literature and rhetoric at Utrecht and a professor of logic and physics at Groningen, Netherlands.

eds. Richard H. Popkin & Arjo Vanderjagt, Scepticism & Irreligion in the Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries  (Brill, 1993)

Verbeek, Theo, ‘From ‘Learned Ignorance’ to Scepticism: Descartes & Calvinist Orthodoxy’, pp. 31-45

Richard A. Watson, ‘Descartes Scepticism: Logic vs. Biography’, pp. 46-58



Francis Turretin

Institutes (P&R), vol. 1, 1st Topic, Q. 13, ‘Is there any use of Philosophy in Theology?  We Affirm’, section 14, pp. 47

“XIV.  Although the philosopher may be allowed to begin with a doubt in order to a safer investigation of natural things, yet this cannot be introduced into subjected of theology and faith.  They are founded upon certain and indubitable principles and truths known per se, to doubt concerning which is impious (as concerning the existence of God) unless we wish to strip ourselves of conscience and the moral dependence on the Creator (which cannot be shaken off or for a moment rejected without crime) and thus to introduce philosophical doubt (epochen) into religion and render the whole of theology sceptical.”


On Epistemology & Metaphysics

Haines, David – ‘Descartes & Epistemological Metaphysics’

“The purpose of this paper is to explain Descartes’ views on Metaphysics.  It is my thesis that one of the ways in which he influenced not only modern philosophy, but the way in which we do philosophy even today, is by turning metaphysical inquiry into an epistemological enterprise. That is to say, he made the critique of knowledge necessary prior to any consideration of existence, and what may or may not have it…  I will attempt to show that Descartes’ view of Metaphysics, in spite of the fact that he used familiar scholastic metaphysical terminology, actually turned Metaphysics into what is today termed Epistemology.  Descartes, not Kant, was the first to perform a true critique of knowledge, and to make that critique a necessary preliminary to all questions about what exists outside our minds.”

Gellera, Giovanni

‘The Epistemology of Sense from Calvin to [Francis] Hutcheson [d. 1746]’  Journal of Scottish Thought, no. 7 (2016), pp. 148-170

Hutcheson (1694-1746)

”Calvinist’ theory of matter?  Burgersdijk & Descartes on res extensa

Abstract: “In the Dutch debates on Cartesianism of the 1640’s, a minority believed that some Cartesian views were in fact Calvinist ones.  The paper argues that, among others, a likely precursor of this position is the Aristotelian Franco Burgersdijk (1590-1635), who held a reductionist view of accidents and of the essential extension of matter on Calvinist…”


On Natural Theology

Mihai-Dragos, Vadana – ‘Descartes & Voetius on the Innate Knowledge of God & the Limits of Natural Theology’  in Annals of the University of Bucharest, Philosophy Series, vol. LXV, no. 2 (2016), pp. 37-50

“This paper highlights a set of objections on natural theology addressed by Descartes and Voetius to each other.  It shows and expands the common ground Descartes and Voetius held within natural theology.  It argues that their contrasting views revolved mainly around the limits of natural theology.  For Voetius, natural theology is extrinsically limited by the revealed God, the external principle of faith.  For Descartes, metaphysics or natural theology is intrinsically limited by the incomprehensible idea of the Infinite.”


On God & Causality


Ruler, J.A. Han van – The Crisis of Causality. Voetius & Descartes on God, Nature & Change  Pre  ToC  (Brill, 1995)



Kato, Yoshi – ‘Between Cartesianism & Orthodoxy: God & the Problem of Indifference in Christoph Wittich’s Anti-Spinoza [1690]’  in Intellectual History Review (2020)

“In general, Wittich tried to refute Spinoza’s monism by mobilizing Cartesian principles, which is particularly perspicuous in his discussion of God’s being.  However, once he turned to the issue of the divine will, he openly contradicted Descartes’ teaching and approached Spinoza’s necessitarianism.  He chose to do so to remain orthodox, evading the accusation of Socinian heresy, which the conservative theologian Petrus van Mastricht had made against his Theologia pacifica (1671).  This paper concludes that the widespread fear concerning Socinianism deeply conditioned the way theologians reacted to the Cartesian philosophy in the Netherlands in the late seventeenth century.” – Abstract

Sangiacomo, Andrea – ‘Divine Action & God’s Immutability: a Historical Case Study on how to Resist Occasionalism’  European Journal of Philosophy of Religion, 7/4 (Summer 2015), pp. 115-135

Sangiacomo is an associate professor at the faculty of philosophy at the University of Groningen (NL).

Abstract: “Today’s debates present ‘occasionalism’ as the position that any satisfying account of divine action must avoid. In this paper I discuss how a leading [French] Cartesian author of the end of the seventeenth century, Pierre-Sylvain Régis [1632–1707], attempted to avoid occasionalism. Régis’s case is illuminating because it stresses both the difficulties connected with the traditional alternatives to occasionalism (so-called ‘concurrentism’ and ‘mere-conservationism’) and also those aspects embedded in the occasionalist position that should be taken into due account. The paper focuses on Régis’s own account of secondary causation in order to show how the challenge of avoiding occasionalism can lead to the development of new accounts of divine action.”



Andreas Beck

ch. 13, ‘God, Creation & Providence in Post-Reformation Reformed Theology’, p. 206  in eds. Lehner, Muller, Roeber, The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800  (Oxford, 2016)

“Another issue concerned substantial forms.  Here, Voetius and others defended a neo-Aristotelian concept because they found it to be more compatible with the Physica Mosaica [Mosaic physics] than early modern alternatives.

The substantial forms could not only explain the classification of ‘kinds’ in the biblical creation account, but also constituted the internal principles of activity in secondary causes.  In contrast, the Cartesian mechanistic worldview with its rejection of substantial form seemed to create more difficulties than it might solve.  In particular, it implied a denial of genuine secondary causality, leading either to occasionalism or Spinozistic pantheism, as Voetius noted with remarkable foresight (Van Ruler 1995; Goudriaan 2006, 113-33; Beck 2007, 65-69).”


On Faith & Reason

Woo, B. Hoon – ‘The Understanding of Gisbert Voetius & Renee Descartes on the Relationship of Faith & Reason, & Theology & Philosophy’  in Westminster Theological Journal, 75 (2013), pp. 45-63


On Angels & Spirits


Fix, Andrew – Fallen Angels: Balthasar Bekker, Spirit Belief & Confessionalism in the Seventeenth Century Dutch Republic  Pre  (Springer Science, 1999)



van Ruler, Han – ‘Minds, Forms & Spirits: The Nature of Cartesian Disenchantment’  Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 61, no. 3 (Jul., 2000), pp. 381-395

Fix, Andrew

‘Angels, Devils & Evil Spirits in Seventeenth-Century Thought: Balthasar Bekker & the Collegiants’  in Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 50, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec., 1989), pp. 527-547

‘Cartesianism & the Spirit Controversy’  in International Archives of the History of Ideas  Abstract

‘Balthasar Bekker & the Crisis of Cartesianism’  in History of European Ideas, vol. 17, issue 5 (1993), pp. 575-88  Ref

Ossa-Richardson, Anthony – ‘Gijsbert Voet & discretio spirituum [the Discernment of Spirits] after Descartes’  being ch. 8 in eds. Jan Machielsen & Clare Copeland, Angels of Light? Sanctity & the Discernment of Spirits in the Early Modern Period  (2012)


On Enthusiasm

van den Belt, Henk – ‘Dangerous Enthusiasm: An Aspect of the Clash between Cartesianism & Orthodoxy at Utrecht University’  Pre  in eds. Becking, Korte & van Liere, Contesting Religious Identities: Transformations, Disseminations and Mediations  (Brill, 2017), p. 118 ff.



On the Universe, whether Finite or Infinite

Revius, Jacob – Anti-Wittichius. Sive, adversus infinitatem mundi, a Cartesio assertam, a Christophoro Wittichio theologo Duisburgensi defensam, diatribe  Ref  (Leiden, 1655)

Revius (1586-1658) was a reformed professor of theology at Leiden (1641-†1658).


On the Motion of the Earth, Astronomy, Natural Things & the Bible

du Bois, Jacob C. –  Sacred Truth & Authority, in Natural & Astronomical Things Asserted & Vindicated, Contra the Two Dissertations on the Abuse of Sacred Scripture in Philosophical Things by Christopher Wittich, sometime a Professor of Most Sacred Theology at Duisburg, now a Neomagi, to which has been Adjoined a Refutation of an Argument for the Motion of the Earth from the Same Author, taken out of Cartesian Principles  (Utrecht, 1655)

13. Particular Places of Sacred Scripture on the Extensive Movement of the Sun are Vindicated  151

14. An Argument taken from Cartesian Principles for the Motion of the Earth is Refuted  210  28 propositions

du Bois (-1661) was reformed and was “of the Church of Leiden”.  The adjoined refutation against the movement of the earth is chs. 13-14.



Against Cartesianism, in English



Revius, Jacob – Jacobus Revius, A Theological Examination of Cartesian Philosophy: Early Criticisms (1647)  ed. Aza Goudriaan  Pre  (Leiden: Brill, 2002)

Revius (1586-1658) was a reformed professor of theology at Leiden (1641-†1658).



Against Cartesianism: Latin Articles & Short Books


Maresius, Samuel

A Theological Dissertation on the Abuse of Cartesian Philosophy, by Stealthily Creeping & Evading in the Things of Theology & Faith  (Groningen, 1670)  115 pp.  134 theses

Maresius (1599-1673) was a reformed professor of theology at Sedan, France and Groningen, Netherlands.  Mastricht in his volume often quotes approvingly from this work of Maresius.

A Vindication of his Recent Dissertation on the Abuse of the Cartesian Philosophy…  Opposite to its Most Inept Confutation which was Recently put forth under the Fictitious Name, Peter from Andlo Batavi [in the Netherlands]  (Groningen, 1670)  67 pp.  84 theses

The Clypeus [Broad-Plated Helmet] of Orthodoxy, or of his First Vindication for his Dissertation on the Abuse of Christian Philosophy…  (Groningen, 1671)  80 pp.  70 theses

An Index of the Principal Theological Controversies, which Dr. Samuel Maresius insists upon, these having been the Received Judgments amongst the Reformed, which, the Most Resplendent, Dr. Christopher Wittich, a New-Magi of the New Theology, a Most Celebrated Cartesian Professor, has Moved Beyond in his…  Pacific Theology  (Groningen, 1671)  55 pp.  344 theses

Table of Contents

A Judgment on the Pacific (or more so, Polemical & Eristic) Theology of Wittich, on his Preface

The Index of Principal Controverses  1

Part 1, 1-120  1
Part 2, 121-219  17
Part 3, 220-334  33

An After-Word of [9] Questions on the Preface of the Theologia Pacifica  53

van Mastricht, Peter (Cephas Scheuneno) – The Incurable Gangrene of Cartesianism: a Set of Nine General Questions Demonstrated on the 12 Decades of Illustrious Questions Uselessly Wrought by Peter Allinga…  (Utrecht, 1680)  57 pp.

Mastricht (1630-1706) was a reformed professor of Hebrew at Frankfurt, Germany, and of theology at Duisburg, Germany and Utrecht, Netherlands.  Cephas Scheunenus was a pseudonym for van Mastricht.

In 1677 Mastricht had published a large book systematically critiquing Cartesianism, The Gangrene of the Cartesian Innovations.  Peter Allinga (1658-1692), a Cartesian, published a response to it entitled, 12 Decades of Illustrious Questions.  This work of Mastricht, published under a pseudonym in 1680, is a response to that.


Table of Contents

Intro  1
Question 1  2  6 propositions
Question 2  5  9 theses
Question 3  9
Question 4  10  5 articles
Question 5  12  17 & 10 tenets of Cartesianism
Question 6  16  4 evasions
Question 7  18  5 gangrenes
.    Examples of the Gangrene about Cartesian Doubt  19
.         6 propositions
.         11 reasons, 7 responses responded to
.         An Example of a Retorted Question in the Business of Doubt
Question 8  52
Question 9  55-57



Against Cartesianism, Latin Books: 1600’s

Schoock, Martin – The Amazing Method of the New Philosophy of Renee Descartes  (Utrecht, 1643)  273 pp.  Index

Schook (1614-1669) was a professor of literature and rhetoric at Utrecht and a professor of logic and physics at Groningen, Netherlands.

“In the 1642–43 controversy between René Descartes and Voetius, Schoock attacked Descartes and his philosophy fiercely in his Admiranda methodus novae philosophiae Renati De Cartes; he stated later that Voetius had been a major author of the book.” – Wiki

On this work, see also Antonella Del Prete, ‘Against Descartes: Marten Schoock’s De scepticismo.


Table of Contents

.     End-Notes to the Preface
Introduction  1

Section 1

ch. 1  14
ch. 2  26
ch. 3  31
ch. 4  43
ch. 5  52

Section 2

ch. 1  59
ch. 2  70
ch. 3  79
ch. 4  87
ch. 5  97
ch. 6  106
ch. 7  117
ch. 8  122
ch. 9  130
ch. 10  138
ch. 11  146
ch. 12  155
ch. 13  167

Section 3

ch. 1  172
ch. 2  177
ch. 3  185
ch. 4  189
ch. 5  196
ch. 6  212
ch. 7  224
ch. 8  228
[sic] ch. 10  234
ch. 10  240

Section 4

ch. 1  245
ch. 2  255
ch. 3  261
ch. 4  268


Revius, Jacob

A Theological Consideration of the Cartesian Method  (Leiden, 1648)  135 pp.  no ToC  11 chapters with Disputations 24 & 25 appended

Revius (1586-1658) was a reformed professor of theology at Leiden (1641-†1658).

This work has been translated into English by Aza Goudriaan in his work, Jacobus Revius, A Theological Examination of Cartesian Philosophy, Early Criticisms (1647)  Pre  (Brill, 2002).


Table of Contents

To Christian Readers

ch. 1  1
ch. 2  2
ch. 3  14
ch. 4  20
ch. 5  35
ch. 6  39
ch. 7  53
ch. 8  59
ch. 9  64
ch. 10  71
ch. 11  86

Disputation 24, on God, as He is a Being from Himself, pt. 1  121
Disputation 25, on God, as He is a Being from Himself, pt. 2  127

The Balance of Cartesian Philosophy, by which the Falsity of the Principles & the Impurity of the Dogmas is Expended & Castigated, & as for the Virulent Epistle Prefixed to the First Volume of the Select Disputations of Adrian Heereboord, it is Responded to  (Leiden, 1650)  326 pp.  The Balance has no major subdivisions.

Table of Contents

Dedicatory Epistle
The Balance of Cartesian Philosophy  1

Disputation 40, on the Unity of the Soul of Christ  282
Disputation 41, on the Unity of the Soul of Christ, pt. 2  291
Disputation 42, on the Unity of the Soul of Christ, Last  304

To the Amicable Reader  316
The 12th of the Theological Disputations, On the Works of the 1st
.       & 2nd Day, that is, on the Earth & Light  318

Disputation 47, on the Stability of the Earth  320
Disputation 48, on the Stability of the Earth, pt. 2  325

Tekel [Weighed], that is, the Lightness of the Cartesian Defence that Johann Clauberg Opposed to the Consideration & Balance of Jacob Revius  (Brielle, 1653)  462 pp.

Table of Contents

To the Reader
On the Preface of Clauberg

ch. 1  1
ch. 2  14
ch. 3  16
ch. 4  46
ch. 5  78
ch. 6  130
ch. 7  156
ch. 8  166
ch. 9  217
ch. 10  240
ch. 11  245
ch. 12  249
ch. 13  254
ch. 14  264
ch. 15  276
.      6 postulates  300  10 axioms
.      Reasons Proving the Existence of God & the Distinction of
.           the soul from the body  304
ch. 16  320
ch. 17  323
ch. 18  383
ch. 19  392
ch. 20  401
ch. 21  411

Epilogue  459
Errata  463

Lentulus, Cyriacus – On the New Wisdom of Renee Decartes  (Herborna Nassovia, 1651)  375 pp.

Lentulus (1620-1678) was a reformed professor of politics, Latin, Greek and philosophy at Herborn and of practical philosophy at Marburg, both in Germany.

du Bois, Jacob C. – Sacred Truth & Authority, in Natural & Astronomical Things Asserted & Vindicated, Contra the Two Dissertations on the Abuse of Sacred Scripture in Philosophical Things by Christopher Wittich, sometime a Professor of Most Sacred Theology at Duisburg, now a Neomagi, to which has been Adjoined a Refutation of an Argument for the Motion of the Earth from the Same Author, taken out of Cartesian Principles  (Utrecht, 1655)  305 pp.  ToC

du Bois (-1661) was reformed and was “of the Church of Leiden”.  The adjoined refutation against the movement of the earth is chs. 13-14.


Table of Contents

Dedicatory Epistle / Preface

1. The General Rule is Vindicated, that in the Exposition of the Places of Sacred Scripture, it is not permitted except by a cogent necessity to recede from the proper sense of the words  1

2. The General State of the Question is Ventilated, whether Scripture may customarily speak according to the erroneous appearance and error of the common people  24

3. The 1st Argument of Wittich is Refuted: that Scripture often speaks out of the vulgar opinion and according to appearance, not according to the exact truth is able to be confirmed  41

4. The 2nd Argument is Refuted  47

5. The 3rd Argument is Refuted: the Apostles in the N.T. were accustomed to use the Greek Version of the Old Testament (which was vulgarly called the Translation of the 70) not insofar as it was pure, but in many erroneous places, not only in those places where it corresponds to the Hebrew Font, but even where it departs from it because they then in those times had been received amongst the Jews.  If therefore the Holy Spirit had so far conceded to the vulgar error, because it derogated nothing of itself about the truth of the faith…  why is error not conceded about natural things when the faith is in no way able to be overthrown?  51

6. The 4th Argument is Refuted: that Scripture itself, in explicating divine things, certainly with respect to the expounding of God and his nature and atttributes, plainly accommodates to our capacity and through such sensible things it represents spiritual and intelligible things.  Hence it was the case that even Christ used various parables and similitudes taken from earthly things that future heavenly things be sketched to us, so Himself to Nicodemus in Jn. 3.  53

7. The 5th Argument is Refuted  63

8. The 6th Argument is Refuted  67

9. The 7th Argument is Refuted  69

10. The 8th Argument is Refuted  83

11. On the Judgment of Dr. Lentulus on the Cartesian Way of Expounding the Sacred Scripture, & on the Consensus of the Reformed Writers  117

12. Whether through Wittich’s Way of Expounding the Sacred Scripture Deceptions are Attributed to God and a Wax Nose to the Sacred Letters  127 

13. Particular Places of Sacred Scripture on the Extensive Movement of the Sun are Vindicated  151

14. An Argument taken from Cartesian Principles for the Motion of the Earth is Refuted  210  28 propositions


Schuler, Johannes – A Specimen of an Examination of the Philosophy of Renee Descartes, or a Brief & Perspicuous Refutation of the Cartesian Philosophy  (Amsterdam, 1666)  101 pp.  ToC  Index

Schuler (1619-1674) was reformed.professor of philosophy.


Table of Contents

Preface  to the Reader

1. On the existence of the body, that it ought not to be doubted, is shown  1
2. Whence is known the existence of our body, and its union with our mind  3
3. What the perceptions of the senses may teach  5
4. On nature, or on the essence of the body in general  8
5. On rarefaction and condensation  12
6. It is queried whether the bodily quantity of a thing is distinguished from the body  15
.       Appendix, in which that is cut asunder which Dr. Clauberg discusses
.            on the essence or nature of a body in common  20
7. Whether space or place in a thing may not differ from matter  24
8. Nature, or the what-is-it-ness of place, is explicated  29
9. On the difference between space and place, and its distinction between
.       internal and external  32
10. A vacuum being granted is shown not to be repugnant  36
11. Rarefaction is not rightly shown to be confirmed by Descartes, and
.       in what sort it is able to be admitted  42
12. The existence of atoms is demonstrated  44
13. The world is not of an indefinite extension, proved contra Descartes  48
14. Whether the same of heaven and earth, and the matter of the whole world  50
15. Whether besides local motion nothing else is permitted in the nature
.       of things  54
16. The definition of Descartes is a bit pressingly examined  56
17. Whether all motion comes about through a circle  63
18. On the first cause of motion  67
19. Whether now there is the same amount of motion in the nature of things
.       as there was in the beginning  70
20. Whether that which is moved always proceeds to move by its nature  73
21. Whether all motion extends out of itself through a straight line  76
22. Motion is shown to be in an instant  81
23. It is inquired why a stone, having been thrown from a sling, moves in a straight line  82
24. In what way motion is communicated to that which is mobile  84
25. The power of acting and resisting of bodies: in what it consists  88
26. What the swiftness and slowness of motion is, is investigated and explicated  91
27. The hardness and fluidity of bodies, what those are is explicated  93
28. It is further shown that fluidity does not consist in the motion of particles  96
29. On the external figure of natural bodies  99


van Mastricht, Peter – The Gangrene of the Cartesian Innovations, Gnawing & Consuming: Most of the More Noble Parts of a Body of Theology, or the Cartesian Theology Detected…  (Amsterdam, 1677)  560 pp.  Detailed ToC

Mastricht (1630-1706) was a reformed professor of Hebrew at Frankfurt, Germany, and of theology at Duisburg, Germany and Utrecht, Netherlands.


Table of Contents

Dedicatory Epistle
Preface to the Reader

Section 1: Preliminaries,
the General Points of Cartesianism

1. Of the Fertility of Innovations  1
.     The Fertility of the Innovations Demonstrated by Five Examples:
.          (1) of Papistry, (2) of Lutheranism, (3) of Socinianism, (4) of
.           Arminianism, (5) of Cartesianism  1
.     7 Cautions are premitted, and by them of Cartesianism  10

2. Of Cartesian Doubt  13

3. Cartesian Philosophy: Not the Handmaid of Theology  34

4. On the Equal Certainty of Philosophy with Theology: that is, Philosophy and Theology are equally certain, revealed and divine  50

5. The Scriptures in Natural Things Speak According to Vulgar Errors  62

6. Philosophical Things are the Interpreters of the Phrases of Scripture in Physical Things  74

7. Physics ought not to be Drawn Out of the Scripture  82

8. Scripture in Practical Things Speaks According to the Errors of the Vulgar  91

9. Scripture in the Things of Faith Speaks According to the Errors of the Vulgar  96

10. Philosophy is the Infallible Interpreter of Scripture  105


Section 2: the Particular
Points of Cartesianism are Exhibited

1. On Theology  149
.      1. The first is rejected in the preceding section  149
.      2. That man as an animal is able to arrive at the whole of natural
.              worship  150
.      3. Natural theology pertains more to philosophy  153

2. On the Perspicuity & Interpreter of Scripture  157
.      1. From one part objective perscipuity is lifted up; from another,
.              a universal subjectivity is erected  157
.      2. Scripture has no infallible interpreter in non-fundamentals  161

3. On Clear & Distinct Perception, that it is the sole norm of every truth  165

4. On the Existence & Knowledge of God through Ideas  198

5. On the Definition of God, that it is able to be Properly Defined  217

6. On the Essence of God, that it Consists Solely in Knowledge  225

7. On the Spirituality of God
.      1. That the Spirit is the First Attribute of God  236
.      2. That God is Not Properly a Spirit  237

8. On the Life of God  242
.      1. That the life of God is not only his intellect and will   242
.      2. The life of God is hardly whatever holds common with the
.              life of the creatures  242

9. On the Will of God, that it is the Cause of All Truth & Goodness  246

10. On the Intellect of God, that possible knowledge [scientia] is prerequisite to the decree of a possibility, and therefore the Knowledge [Scientia] of Vision is around [circa] possibilities  253

11. On the Power of God, as it is able to make contradictory things  257

12. On the Power of God, as it is able to Falter, if it Wills  270

13. On the Power of God, as it is able to Make an Infinite Burden  274

14. On the Independence of God, that it Positively is from Itself  276

15. On the Immensity of God, that it consists in solely an extrinsic operation  285

16. On the Distribution of the Divine Attributes, that it makes badly on those communicable and incommunicable  304

17. On the Most Sacred Existence of the Trinity, that Philosophical Arguments are able to Demonstrate it  310

18. On the Nature of the Trinity  325
.      1. In another manner it is rejected  325
.      2. That communicability of an essence does not arise from
.             infinity  326
.      3. That persons are not distinguished from essence, whether
.             really or modally, or from reason reasoning  328
.      4. That [divine] persons are not distinguished modally between
.             themselves  330
.      5. That if we are not able to solve the contradictions objected by
.             the Socinians, being ignorant, we ought to be brotherly  335

19. On Creation in General  340
.     1. They allow false hypotheses
.     2. That in whole 24 hours God created each day, they expend
.           343
.     3. The primordial chaos was able to produce all materials out
.           of itself alone  347
.     4. Between nothing and something there is not an infinite
.           distance  350
.     5. Not all was created on account of man  355

20. On the Soul of the World, it being infinite and a unity  361
.     1. Subtle matter is the soul of the world  361
.     2. The world is of an indefinite quantity and is capable of
.           being infinite  362
.     3. There are not able to be many worlds  379

21. On the System of the World, the Heaven & the Earth  384
.     1. It is probable that in the moon there are mountains, forests
.          and humans  384
.     2. The moon is not properly a luminary  390
.     3. The earth is amongst the planets  390
.     4. The sun remains still and the earth moves  392
.     5. That the sun stands in the middle of the universe is invoked
.          395

22. On the Existence & Essence of Angels
.    1. About their existence  396
.         1. That the existence of angels is not able to be demonstrated
.              by natural reasons: incidentally only is it noted  396
.         2. Angels were able to exist before the world  397
.     2. About the essence of angels, that it consists in knowledge  401

23. On the Place & Motion of Angels  403
.      1. About place: 3 hypotheses correspond
.            1. The substantial presence of angels is not able to be
.                defined in space  403
.            2. Angels are in space solely on account of their external
.                operation  405
.            3. The operations of angels are distinguished into immenent
.                and transient  406
.      2. About motion: that of an angel is not competent except
.            improperly  408

24. On the Multipresence & Operations of the Angels  409
.      1. An angel, insofar as it is in a place, it is able to be in diverse
.            places simultaneously  409
.      2. Angels’ stupendous works are carried out through knowledge
.            alone  416

25. On the Body & Soul of Man  419
.     1. The body of man, that it consists in extension alone  420
.     2. The soul:
.             1. That the soul is not the form of a man  421
.             2. That the rational soul consists solely in thinking  423
.             3. That the separated soul is complete; what it is  432

26. On the Souls & Life of Man  436
.       1. There are two souls in any man [animal & rational]  437
.       2. The life of the body does not depend from the rational soul
.             442
.       3. Being absent from the rational soul, the human body is able
.             to live  445
.       4. Being brought through death, the soul is a person  446

27. On the Intellect & Will of Man  447
.       1. About the Intellect: that to judge, affirm, etc. is of the will  447
.       2. About the Will, that the mode of it is infinite  451

28. On the Affections & Pineal Gland of Man; the Affections arise from the pineal gland, and the conflict on the affections, that the gland is able to impel, and this is the case for the soul, and from that place also for the spirits of animals  457

29. On the Senses of Man & the Image of God  463
.      1. On the senses, that in philosophical things they always and
.         in many things falter, and therefore they do not trust in
.         philosophizing, nor hence is the use of the senses to be
.         except in things of the body or of human composition  463
.      2. The image of God:
.          1. “in the image of God” they view to be ideas of God
.              in man  475
.          2. Original Righteousness is impeded by these things set
.              down and those motions of animal spirits: such affections do
.              not arise in the pineal gland  476

30. On Brutish Animals, on the Life, Sense & Perception in Fleshly Creatures  477

31. On the Providence of God  484
.       1. The providence of God is confounded with his omnipresence
.              484
.       2. That the action of God which conserves all things is the same
.              as that by which He at one time created  484

32. On Origianl Sin  490
.       1. That it is propagated through the soul & the body  491
.       2. The body receives inordinate motions from the parents
.       3. These infect the soul
.       4. Concupiscence arises from the pineal gland
.       5. The explanation of original sin is to be sought from the interior
.             and innermost depths of Cartesian Philosophy
.       The judgment of the orthodox is opposed and laid out:
.            A. On the one hand, propogation is not through the soul  493
.            B. On the other hand, nor is it either through the body  494

33. On Free Choice  501
.       1. The intellect does not err, nor is it able to err  501
.       2. The judgment of the will is at no time able to err if it only
.             assents with clear and distinct perception  503
.       3. It is posited in the liberty of the will not to assent except you
.             have perceived clearly and distinctly, and therefore do not
.             err  506
.       4. Errors are not in the nature or choice, but in the operation of
.             the will and the abuse of the liberty of choice  506
.       5. The will easily embraces the good if it is demonstrated by
.             judgment  508
.       6. Judgment is always able to be well pronounced, and goods
.             represented to the will, if in that way it wills  511
.       7. The decree of God leaves free human actions indeterminate
.             511
.       8. Solely a natural necessity and that of coercion is opposed to
.             liberty  512

34. On the Person of Christ  513
.       1. A person is nothing except a rational nature, it being conjoined
.             with nothing else  514
.       2. A subsistence in the abstract is not a positive thing
.       3. Personality consists not in incommunicabiliity, but in
.             non-communication  520
.       4. Negation or non-conjunction is taken away through another
.             522
.       5. This non-conjunction having been taken up, the thing
.             dissolves its personality  523
.       6. From the union of the natures in Christ, another person is
.             born  524
.       7. A personal sustenation is nothing but a figment  525
.       8. The divine nature is not able to be present (adesse) and
.             united to the human, except through an external operation
.             527

35. On the Grace of Conversion  533
.        1. The assistance of common and proper grace differ only by
.               reason  533
.                   The fourfold difference between common and special
.                        grace  534
.        2. Grace precedes free choice not temporally, but by nature
.               only  535
.        3. The grace in conversion is not irresistible  541

36. On Faith & the Divine Law  545
.      1. About faith:
.          1. Faith is not understanding
.          2. Nor does it pertain to the intellect
.          3. Nor is it anything except hunger, etc.
.          4. It does not consist except in charity
.          5. Nor does it exist except in thinking
.          6. It justifies as it is an instrumental work
.      2. About the law:
.          1. That every moral good depends, in every way, upon the free
.                 will of God  553
.          2. The contradictory judgment of Wittich is set forth  553

37. On the Last Things: on Death, the Resurrection, Heaven & Hell  555
.         1. Death refers not to that separation of the soul from the body
.         2. The Resurrection, it is not necessary for the reunion of the
.                body with the rational soul
.         3. Heaven, the souls of the faithful do not immediately and
.                properly migrate there
.         4. Hell, nor even do the souls of the reprobate migrate there

Detailed ToC

Baum, Caspar – The Reflexive Act of the Cartesians, or the Clear & Distinct Recognition of All the Mythmakers & Inventions going under False Names, even those of Violent Presumption…  (Cassellis, 1691)  586 pp.  ToC  Alphabetical Index of Cartesian Errors

Baum (c.1650-1702) was reformed.



Against Cartesianism: a French Book


Jurieu, Pierre – Defense of the Universal Doctrine of the Church, & Particularly of Calvin & the Reformers on the Principle & Foundation of the Faith, Contra the Imputations & Objections of Mr. Saurin, Divided in Three Parts  (Rotterdam, 1695)  524 pp.  ToC




Related Pages


Language of Accommodation in Scripture

On Witches, Sorcery, Ghosts, Apparitions & Demonic Activity

On Demonic Possession

On Demons & Spiritual Warfare

Attributes of God

The Reformed Freedom of the Will vs. Determinism


On Concupiscence

Of Fundamental, Secondary & Tertiary Matters of Christianity, of Errors Therein & of Communion, Discipline & Separation Thereabout


General Revelation

On Geocentricism & Heliocentrism


The Sufficiency of Scripture

On Possibilities & Hypotheticals

On the Will of God

The Origin of the Soul: on Creationism & Traducianism

On the History of Religion & Science, & on the Mosaic Physics

Heresiographies, Surveys of the Sects & other Religions, & on Heresies & Error

Reformed Orthodoxy