The Unity of Descartes's Thought

History of Philosophy Quarterly 22 (1):17 - 30 (2005)
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Abstract: On several occasions (see e.g. Principles I/48) Descartes claims that sensations, emotions, imagination and sensory perceptions belong neither to the mind or to the body alone, but rather to their union. This seems to conflict with Descartes’s definition of “thought” given elsewhere, which classifies the same events as modes of a thinking substance, and hence depending for their existence only on minds. In this paper I offer an interpretation, which, I hope, will restore the coherence of Descartes’s dualist theory. I argue that the ‘special modes’ of thinking are special because they are the immediate effects of the body on the mind. They thus depend for their existence on the body because of the general metaphysical principle that “Nothing comes from nothing”. Understood properly, this principle does not contradict the principle about the distinctness of substances.



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Katalin Farkas
Central European University

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Cartesian trialism.John Cottingham - 1985 - Mind 94 (374):218-230.

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