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Emotion and Cognitive Life in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy$
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Martin Pickavé and Lisa Shapiro

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199579914

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579914.001.0001

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Using the Passions

Using the Passions

(p.176) Using the Passions
Emotion and Cognitive Life in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

Dennis Des Chene

Oxford University Press

This paper begins by taking Descartes' metaphor of the tree of philosophy, whose roots are metaphysics, trunk is physics, and branches, mechanics, medicine and morals, seriously. It then asks: What relation, then, does the physiology of the passions bear to the moral philosophy of their use? After distinguishing three grades of use — mere capacity, what I term, usage, and mastery — I formulate the question concerning the relation of natural to moral philosophy, then, as one of understanding how physical capacity stands to usage and mastery, and how claims about capacity bear on claims about proper usage. In what follows I proceed by ascending from the trunk of Descartes' tree upward toward the branch corresponding to moral philosophy, with the intention of tracking the role of physiology and the introduction of what we would call normative content.

Keywords:   passions, Descartes, health, moral philosophy, medicine

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