The Function and Intentionality of Cartesian Émotions

Philosophical Papers 44 (3):277-319 (2015)

Abel Franco
California State University, Northridge
A study of what Descartes calls émotions in his Passions of the Soul suggests that, rather than just a theory of passions—as Descartes himself explicitly claims to be proposing—he was in practice putting forward a more comprehensive theory of passions-émotions, a unified theory which would be closer to what today should properly be called Descartes’ theory of emotions. I try here to make explicit the grounds of this unity by showing that émotions both fit within the functional account Descartes attributes to what he calls passions; and complement the intentionality of passions by expanding it to new objects. In order to show this I offer also a tentative distinction, functionally and intentionally, between passions and émotions in general, on one hand, and, on the other, between the two apparent types of émotions Descartes refers to in the treatise—interior or internal [intérieure] and intellectual [intellectuelle] émotions.
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DOI 10.1080/05568641.2015.1106706
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