Consciousness Thought

Science incarnate: historical embodiments of natural by Christopher Lawrence, Steven Shapin (eds)

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By Christopher Lawrence, Steven Shapin (eds)

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When such activity is self-conscious, however, matters are subtly different. ^"* Manners pretend to morality in the more elevated sense, and manners that seem arbitrary or capricious to some appear self-evident to others. The readers of courtesy literature sought counsel on how to conform to an alien morality. Their fear of missteps was a fear of revealing to competent members of court society that they did not possess full membership in that moral community. But that moral community itself had pretensions to an inwardness that was merely expressed in the outward forms of manners.

The model of a philosopher here is evidently an antique one, a Stoic or Epicurean, for ex­ ample, rather than one based on contemporary schoolmen. Until his permanent move from France to Holland in 1628, Descartes trav­ eled intermittently, visiting Germany and Italy as well as spending extended pe­ riods of time in Paris. He spent two years in Paris before going to live in the Netherlands; his claimed reasons for leaving, at a time when he was starting to devote himself seriously to work in philosophy and mathematical sciences, are important in understanding his ongoing process of self-creation.

241 n. 25. The Oxford English Dictionary similarly gives no examples of the English word civilization prior to the eighteenth century. For additional references on the provenance of the word, see Fox, “Introduction,” 29 n. 111. ^^ In part 1 of the Discourse, Descartes recounts the shortcomings of his education and tells us that, as soon as he could, he entirely abandoned the study of letters. ’^® Descartes purports to make a philosophy out of honnetete. To be civilisi in early modern court society was, among other things, to dis­ play moderation in one’s appetites.

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