Learn English – the correct usage of the word “Cartesian”


While working on an essay for my English class I included this sentence:

The best solution is to take a page out of Cartesian theory and take a proven approach.

However, my teacher corrected it as follows:

The best solution is to take a page out of Cartesian's theory and take a proven approach.

However, this strikes me as wrong, "Cartesian" is not a person and this correction doesn't seem to make sense to me. I would understand if it was "Descartes' theory" as that would make it the theory of Descartes, but I don't understand how you can use a possessive with an adjective like in the correction.

My teacher hasn't been very helpful, her best explanation is "English is just like that". But I still would like to understand it, could someone explain it to me?

I also would like to know if there's a need to capitalize "Cartesian" in this case.

Best Answer

If you take a look at the Wikipedia disambiguation page for Cartesian (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian ), you will see that every expression in which the term appears relates to the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (the adjective 'Cartesian' being derived from the Latinized form of his name, Cartesius).

In my view, your teacher is not only ignorant, she is arrogantly ignorant: the link with Descartes ought to be part of every teacher's general knowledge, irrespective of their specialist subject area(s).

To answer your last question, 'Cartesian' does always begin with a capital letter.

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