Universal Origins and Le Monde
By the seventeenth century, the terms “world” and “cosmos” would become almost interchangeable: chapter four explores this further expansion in scale in René Descartes’s Le monde (The World) whose title refers, in fact, to the universe. Though celebrated for his invention of the cogito, this chapter argues for Descartes’s significance as a revolutionary worldmaker: Le monde imagines the creation of a hypothetical world (a “new world”) in order to establish a new physics. Descartes’s suppression of the text after Galileo’s condemnation in 1632 is thus motivated by the recognition of the dangerous consequences of worldmaking itself. Confronting the necessity of human making, he seeks, in the Meditations, to defend its foundations by realigning the metaphysical relation between God and world. Descartes’s work thus marks the transition from Mercator’s bodily and artisanal metaphors of worldmaking to an internalization of the world as a product of the “intellectual imagination.”
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