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Descartes and CartesianismEssays in Honour of Desmond Clarke$
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Stephen Gaukroger and Catherine Wilson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198779643

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198779643.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 September 2019

Descartes on the Power of the Soul

Descartes on the Power of the Soul

A Reconsideration

Chapter:
(p.177) 11 Descartes on the Power of the Soul
Source:
Descartes and Cartesianism
Author(s):

Denis Kambouchner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198779643.003.0011

The chapter challenges the traditional presentation of Descartes’ philosophy as seriously impaired by his supposition that an incorporeal mind can initiate physical changes in the brain and so cause voluntary motion. Although Descartes endured many reproaches from his contemporaries and successors on this score, a careful examination of his terminology of force, power, and virtue indicates that he assuredly did not think of the will as an efficient cause of movement in the brain and limbs. Although he did not articulate an alternative account, his emphasis in the Passions of the Soul is on the integration of soul and body and there are hints that he conceptualized the relationship as one of ‘formal’ rather than ‘efficient’ causality.

Keywords:   René Descartes, power, passions, dualism, voluntary motion

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