Colin Chamberlain
Temple University
In the _Meditations_ and related texts from the early 1640s, Descartes argues that the self can be correctly considered as either a mind or a human being, and that the self’s properties vary accordingly. For example, the self is simple considered as a mind, whereas the self is composite considered as a human being. Someone might object that it is unclear how merely considering the self in different ways blocks the conclusion that a single subject of predication—the self—is both simple and composite, which is contradictory. In response to this objection, this paper develops a reading of Descartes’s various ways of considering the self. I argue that the best reading of Descartes’s qualified claims about the self, i.e., about the self _qua_ mind or the self qua human being, presupposes an account of the unqualified self, that is, of the self _simpliciter_. I argue that the self _simpliciter_ is not a mind, and that it is not a human being either. This result might suggest the pessimistic conclusion that Descartes’s view of the self is incoherent. To avoid this result, I introduce a new metaphysical account of the Cartesian self. On my view, the self is individuated by a unified mental life. The self is constituted by the beings that jointly produce this mental life, and derives its unity from it.
Keywords   embodiment   mind   person   self   union  Descartes  Descartes  embodiment  mind  person  self  union
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DOI 10.32881/jomp.30
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Reconceiving Spinoza.Samuel Newlands - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
Aquinas.Eleonore Stump - 2003 - Routledge.

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