Jan Amos KOMENSKÝ - life, work, legacy



Cartesius cum sua naturali philosophia a mechanicis eversus

Descartes with his natural philosophy confounded with mechanics


Origin of the work:
  1659 Amsterdam

  1659 Amsterdam

1896 Giessen, J. Reber in: Comenii operum tomus I (with German translation)

1978 Prague, J. A. Comenii Opera omnia, vol. 12

1968 Prague, Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol. V, Czech translation by J. Červenka  


A polemic treatise directed against Descartes’ opinions as to the condensing and dilution of masses.

Comenius as a theologian and Descartes as a natural scientist and philosopher differed from the outset. They realised this at their meeting at Endegest in 1642. Comenius’ recognised the senses, reason and Divine Revelation (Holy Scripture) as the three basic sources of knowledge, and religious faith and science he blurred into one. Descartes, by contrast, the father of modern philosophy, sought surety of knowledge in human reason alone, and separated the area of science, and thus philosophy, from that of theology. Until 1650, Descartes was Comenius’ authority, albeit with exceptions. When, however, the dispute broke out between the Cartesians and the Anti-Cartesians, Comenius weighed in on the side of the latter and wrote the Refutatio philosophiae Cartesianae (Refutation of the Cartesian Philosophy), which treatise, however, was lost in the fire of Leszno in 1656. He followed news of scholarship in the natural sciences, however, and warmly greeted the discovery of the expansive force and compressibility of gasses, falling sharply with this polemic on several of Descartes’ presumptions as to the condensing and dilution of masses. This occurred some nine years after Descartes’ death. Comenius felt that casting doubt upon one of Descartes’ basis theses would cast his whole system of philosophy into doubt, but this did not result. The tract gained considerable attention from the Cartesians, but is one of Comenius’ weaker efforts, and could not threaten Descartes’ position as an important natural scientist and philosopher.


For further study, see also:

J. A. Comenii Opera omnia, vol. 12. Prague 1978, pp303-306

Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol.. V. Prague 1968, pp207-208

J. V. Novák & J. Hendrich, Jan Amos Komenský, jeho život a spisy. Prague 1932, pp556-557

Jan Kumpera, Jan Amos Komenský, poutník na rozhraní věků. Prague & Ostrava 1992, pp208-209




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