On his return to Naples he found himself out of touch with the prevailing Cartesianism, and lived quietly until in 1697 he gained the professorship of rhetoric at the university, with a scanty stipend of loo scudi.
When Descartes complained to the authorities of this unfair treatment, 4 the only reply was an order by which all mention of the name of Cartesianism, whether favourable or adverse, was forbidden in the university.
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.
The Cartesianism of Holland was a child of the universities, and its literature is mainly composed of commentaries upon.
In France Cartesianism won society and literature before it penetrated into the universities.
Clerselier (the friend of Descartes and his literary executor), his son-in-law Rohault (who achieved that relationship through his Cartesianism), and others, opened their houses for readings to which the intellectual world.
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.
From the real or fancied rapprochements between Cartesianism and Jansenism, it became for a while impolitic, if not dangerous, to avow too loudly a preference for Cartesian theories.
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.
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.
In England Cartesianism took but slight hold.
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.
Leibnitz, again, having become equally dissatisfied with Cartesianism, Spinozism and the Epicurean realism of Gassendi, in the latter part of his life came still nearer than Spinoza to metaphysical idealism in his monadology, or half-Pythagorean,half-Brunistic analysis of bodies into monads, or units, or simple substances, indivisible and unextended, but endowed with perception and appetite.
He was held to this belief in the substantiality of bodies by his Christianity, by the influence of Aristotle, of scholasticism and of Cartesianism, as well as by his own mechanics.
The axiom of Cartesianism is, therefore, the Cogito ergo sum.
Locke, when Cartesianism had raised the problem of the contents of consciousness, and the spirit of Baconian positivism could not accept of anything that bore the ill-omened name of innate ideas, elaborated a theory of knowledge which is psychological in the sense that its problem is how the simple data with which the individual is in contact in sensation are worked up into a system.