Of Cartesianism towards the close of the 17th century the only remnants were an overgrown theory of vortices, which received its death-blow from Newton, and a dubious phraseology anent innate ideas, which found a witt y executioner in Locke.
In 1705 Cartesianism was still subject to prohibitions from the authorities; but in a project of new statutes, drawn up for the faculty of arts at Paris in 1720, the Method and Meditations of Descartes were placed beside the Organon and the Metaphysics of Aristotle as text-books for philosophical study.
The axiom of Cartesianism is, therefore, the Cogito ergo sum.
Though rejected by the Jesuits, who found peripatetic formulae a faithful weapon against the enemies of the church, Cartesianism was warmly adopted by the Oratory, which saw in Descartes something of St Augustine, by Port Royal, which discovered a connexion between the new system and Jansenism, and by some amongst the Benedictines and the order of Ste Genevieve.
In England Cartesianism took but slight hold.
In France Cartesianism won society and literature before it penetrated into the universities.
The quotation may remind us that the analogy between ethics and mathematics ought to be traced further back than Locke; in fact, it results from the influence exercised by Cartesianism over English thought generally, in the latter half of the 17th century.
The Cartesianism of Holland was a child of the universities, and its literature is mainly composed of commentaries upon.
But when this happened, Cartesianism was no longer either interesting or dangerous; its theories, taught as ascertained and verified truths, were as worthless as the systematic verbiage which preceded them.
At Leiden, Utrecht, Groningen, Franeker, Breda, Nimeguen, Harderwyk, Duisburg and Herborn, and at the Catholic university of Louvain, Cartesianism was warmly expounded and defended in seats of learning, of which many are now left desolate, and by adherents whose writings have for the most part long lost interest for any but the antiquary.