Faith, Reason, and Descartes

Download Audio

“I think, therefore I am,” said the great mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes. And the world has never been the same.

Putting thought at the center of existence meant no more automatic acceptance of the word of kings or the divine. It meant scientific method, secular culture, modern life. And centuries of struggle between the champions of faith and reason. A struggle that is hot again today.

A new intellectual detective story tracks not just the ideas of Descartes but his actual bones through the philosophical battlefield and today’s headlines.

This hour, On Point: Faith, reason and Descartes’ bones.Guest:

Joining us from Atlanta is Russell Shorto. He's a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and bestselling author the 2004 book “The Island at the Center of the World,” about Dutch Manhattan. His new book is, "Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason."

You can read an excerpt from the book.

This program aired on October 21, 2008.

Headshot of Tom Ashbrook

Tom Ashbrook Former Host, On Point
Tom Ashbrook is an award-winning journalist and host of WBUR and NPR's On Point.



More from On Point

Listen Live