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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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Descartes and Regius on the Pineal Gland and Animal Spirits, and a Letter of Regius on the True Seat of the Soul

Descartes and Regius on the Pineal Gland and Animal Spirits, and a Letter of Regius on the True Seat of the Soul

Chapter:
(p.95) 6 Descartes and Regius on the Pineal Gland and Animal Spirits, and a Letter of Regius on the True Seat of the Soul
Source:
Descartes and Cartesianism
Author(s):

Erik-Jan Bos

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198779643.003.0006

In his concise Cartesian textbook entitled Physiology (1641) Henricus Regius went beyond what could be found in Descartes’ published writings. There is no doubt that Regius completed some of its contents himself, but Descartes generously shared his (unpublished) views with him as well. This article investigates this tension on two specific points that relate to the function of the pineal gland and the animal spirits. First, did Descartes change his mind between the Treatise on Man and the Passions regarding the last step of sensory perception in the brain? It is argued he did not. Second, does the soul move or determine the movement of the animal spirits via the pineal gland? It is argued the soul determines the movement.

Keywords:   René Descartes, Henricus Regius, pineal gland, animal spirits, Treatise on Man

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