Semel in Vita: Descartes' stoic view on the place of philosophy in human life

Faith and Philosophy 24 (2):165-184 (2007)
In his June 1643 letter to Princess Elizabeth, Descartes makes a claim that is a bit surprising given the hyper-intellectualism of the Meditations and other texts. He says that philosophy is something that we should do only rarely. Here I show how Descartes’ recommendation falls out of other components of his system—in particular his stoicism and his views on embodiment. A consequence of my reading is that to an important degree the reasoning of the Fourth Meditation is the imprecise reasoning of a not-yet-Cartesian meditator
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