Matthew Jones

Wisdom RFP Grant Recipient
Associate Professor

Columbia University

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Defining Wisdom Project Description

“Formalism and Its Discontents” weaves a technical history of the development of calculus and mechanics during the eighteenth century into a rich account of debates over the exact sciences as sources of theoretical and practical wisdom. Enlightenment debates focused on the power of the different sciences for learning to reason in everyday life. These debates provide powerful ways for questioning the gulf between modern theories of wisdom that see it as an expert system (thus primarily intellectual) and those that insist upon the need for the development of a wise personality, in which knowledge plays a necessary but far from sufficient role.

Recent Publications
The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the Cultivation of Virtue
Jones, Matthew L. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Amid the unrest, dislocation, and uncertainty of seventeenth-century Europe, readers seeking consolation and assurance turned to philosophical and scientific books that offered ways of conquering fears and training the mind—guidance for living a good...
Three Errors about Indifference: Pascal on the Vacuum, Sociability, and Moral Freedom
Jones, Matthew L. Romance Quarterly 50 (2003): 99-120. This article explains the views of French philosopher Blaise Pascal against the philosophical and theological legitimization of a godly worldly life by the Jesuits. It also provides background on Jesuit philosopher Pierre LeMoyne's ordered world of...
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Columbia University

Current Position

Associate Professor

Highest Degree

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