Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Paul Deslandes

Second Advisor

Randall Harp

Third Advisor

Sean Field


France, Royal Academy of Sciences, Cartesianism, Descartes, Malebranche


Pre-Newtonian modern science rested upon a Cartesian metaphysical foundation, but that same system had been declared heretical and subversive in France. Working from the intersection of historical scholarship on the normative pressures exerted on Cartesian thinkers in early modern France and the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, which was populated by those who were most influenced by Descartes' philosophy, it is argued that religious norms and the goals of absolute monarchy forced the first community of modern scientists into an institutional identity crisis. Those who sought the truth of the "new sciences" in the seventeenth century were met with ostracism if they dared to speak it.


This work draws most directly on the historical works of Desmond M. Clarke and J.B. Shank.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.