Book Review: “Descartes’ Bones”Reviews

Descartes' Bones

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Subtitled: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason


A New York Times Notable BookSixteen years after René Descartes’
death in Stockholm in 1650, a pious French ambassador exhumed the
remains of the controversial philosopher to transport them back to
Paris. Thus began a 350-year saga that saw Descartes’ bones traverse
a continent, passing between kings, philosophers, poets, and
painters. But as Russell Shorto shows in this deeply engaging book,
Descartes’ bones also played a role in some of the most momentous
episodes in history, which are also part of the philosopher’s
metaphorical remains: the birth of science, the rise of democracy,
and the earliest debates between reason and faith. Descartes’ Bones
is a flesh-and-blood story about the battle between religion and
rationalism that rages to this day.

Book Details:

Physical Description: 5.2″x7.9″x0.8″; 0.1 lb; 336 pages
Edition Info: Paperback; 2009-08-25


[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] “D [/dropcap]escartes’ Bones,” written by Russell Shorto would not even get a second look from me if I saw it in a library on a bookshelf. Just the name screams “love novel.” If it weren’t for my aunt who had recommended the book to me, I would not have had the opportunity to read this intellectually written adventure story.
“Descartes’ Bones” is a suspenseful story about the conflict between faith and reason.
The title derives from the 17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes. He coined the phrase, “I think, therefore I am.”
If the highly regarded book and film “The DaVinci Code” was considered to be good, then this book is just as good. It contains similar aspects to the story and involves a thrilling adventure into some of the world’s greatest interests, the fight between reason and faith.
The historical book tells the story of Descartes and his rebellious beliefs and how he made sure to question everything, including his faith.
This ability to question everything that has been established as facts hundreds of years before him became contagious and eventually became known as an “atheist” in many countries until he ended up in the Netherlands, only because it is said that it was the friendliest place to live in all of Europe.
Descartes was a philosopher of modernity. This is because he recreated a whole new outlook of life for himself and many others who would be considered his followers. This angered many well-respected Catholic officials and it was not until after this death that the story takes a wild spin.
With Descartes creating trouble amongst the people in Europe, it is evident that their faith was questioned and this angered the Catholic officials. After Descartes’ lonely death far way from home in 1650, 16 years later, the French ambassador Hugues de Terlon secretly unearthed Descartes’ bones and transported them to France. This raised many questions as to why he would do such a thing, thus creating the storyline to “Descartes’ Bones.”
It would not be wise to spoil the story for anyone wishing to read such a great narrative detective-style book, trying to get to the bottom line of the location of Descartes’ bones, meanwhile discovering many secrets one would have never imagined.

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