Girls Guide to City Life

famous geulincx readers

Towards the end of the seventeenth century and at the beginning of the eighteenth, Geulincx seems to have had quite a readership-at least in Zeeland, if we are to believe the complaints made by the Middelburg dominee Carolus Tuinman, who tried to turn the tidal wave of libertinism by writing in 1715:

'Overmids de Boeken van A. GEULINX niet alleen in 't Latijn / maar ook vertolkt in onze Moedertaal door A. DE REUS, met achting en smaak gelezen worden van verscheide onder ons en elders / die geen doorzicht hebben van de boosheid der gronden waar op die steunen / en van de SPINOZISTERY die daar in overal doorstraalt; zo achten we dienstig tot yders onderrichting en waarschouwing / dat te betogen door eenige zonneklaare proeven / uit een vry grooter getal / brengende die tot eenige Stellingen.'


'Het is geenzints veilig voor min geoeffende zulke boeken te lezen / veel beter bleven die onvertaalt.'

Samuel Beckett (Foxrock 1906 - Paris 1989)

One famous reader of Geulincx' philosophical works is the Irish novelist Samuel Beckett. Becckett read Geulincx' Ethics in the early 1930s.

Cornelis Verhoeven (Udenhout 1928 - Den Bosch 2001)

On Monday 11 June 2001, Cornelis Verhoeven, professor emeritus of ancient philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, died in hospital in his home town of 's Hertogenbosch at the age of 73.

Cornelis Verhoeven was a classical philologist, translator and philosopher, and the author of a great many works, amongst which his most well-known in English is The Philosophy of Wonder, New York (Macmillan) 1972.
He was awarded the P.C. Hooft Prize for Dutch Literature in 1979.

Verhoeven's main philosophical theme is the articulation of a sense of wonderment and awe with regard to human existence and reality as such.
It is this very theme which attracted him to Geulincx.

In 1986, Verhoeven published Van de hoofddeugden. De eerste tuchtverhandeling, the first re-edition of this treatise to appear since 1895.

Already in 1973, however, he had published a small monograph Het axioma van Geulincx, inspired by Geulincx' maxim quod nescis quomodo fiat, id non facis ('that of which you do not know how it happens, you do not do').

It is at the end of this work that Verhoeven elegantly summarizes the core of Geulincx' metaphysical and ethical premises, and expresses what he finds so fascinating about them:

Geulincx' maxims form one of the rare attempts in the history of philosophy to articulate the simultaneity of action and contemplation. Besides hinting at a critical technology of human activity and propounding the idea of divine omnipotence, these maxims are also a radicalisation of philosophical wonder, on account of which we become the astonished spectators even of our own activities and at the very moment that we perform them.

Cornelis Verhoeven, Het axioma van Geulincx, Bilthoven (Ambo) 1973, 78.

Cornelis Verhoeven will continue to inspire many of his readers and former students.