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  • 21 Jan 2010
    Helen Hattab

    Descartes: The Dutch Connection

    We think of René Descartes as a French philosopher, given that he was born in La Haye, France. Descartes, however, felt most at home among the Dutch. In 1618 he joined the army of the Dutch commander, Maurice of Nassau and even long after leaving the military, he chose to reside in the United Provinces of the Netherlands. His return to France in 1620 ended in 1623 with a pilgrimage to Italy, which Descartes undertook as thanks for a series of dreams (he interpreted these as divine revelations of his future path as a philosopher). Descartes returned to France again in 1623 but finally left for good in 1628. Frustrated with the social obligations that life in Paris imposed on him, Descartes took refuge in the Dutch Republic whose people he praised for not prying into his business.

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