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Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VIII$
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Daniel Garber and Donald Rutherford

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829294

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829294.001.0001

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Imitation and ‘Infinite’ Will

Imitation and ‘Infinite’ Will

Descartes on the Imago Dei

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Imitation and ‘Infinite’ Will
Source:
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VIII
Author(s):

Marie Jayasekera

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198829294.003.0001

This chapter investigates Descartes’s conception of the imago Dei, that it is above all in virtue of the will that human beings bear the image and likeness of God. The chapter begins by illuminating his understanding of the doctrine—how he conceives of the relation between human beings and God. It is argued that Descartes is alluding not to Scholastic conceptions of analogy but instead to the Augustinian–Thomistic tradition on the nature of image. Turning to Descartes’s conception of the likeness between the human will and God’s will, the chapter argues that he thinks the likeness is that both are infinite in ‘extent’. This means that human will can ‘extend itself’ to things that can be the object of God’s will, notable because Descartes famously thinks that absolutely anything can be the object of God’s will. An explanation is offered for why this interpretation is not implausible, contrary to first appearances.

Keywords:   Descartes, imago Dei, analogy, will, God, infinite, Scholastics, Augustine, Aquinas

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