Theoria 77 (3):238-260 (2011)
AbstractMy main thesis in this article is that Descartes' ethics should be understood as involving a distinction between happiness and well-being. The distinction I have in mind is never clearly stated or articulated by Descartes himself, but I argue that we nevertheless have good reason to embrace it as an important component in a charitable reconstruction of his ethical thought. In section I, I present Descartes' account of happiness and of how he thinks happiness can (and cannot) be acquired. Then, in section II, I introduce and develop the distinction between happiness and well-being. I do this via a discussion of a difficult passage in one of Descartes' letters to Elisabeth, where he may seem first to grant and then immediately to reject the view that people's happiness can vary in degree depending on the possession of goods or perfections that are outside their power to control. I believe my proposed distinction can help us make good sense of this passage. In the last two sections (III and IV), I then offer some further grounds or reasons for why the proposed distinction should be ascribed to Descartes
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References found in this work
The Philosophical Writings of Descartes: Volume 1.René Descartes - 1984 - Cambridge University Press.
The Pursuit of Unhappiness: The Elusive Psychology of Well-Being.Daniel M. Haybron - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
The Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy.Jerome B. Schneewind - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work
Of Dreams, Demons, and Whirlpools: Doubt, Skepticism, and Suspension of Judgment in Descartes's Meditations.Jan Forsman - 2021 - Dissertation, Tampere University
Why Virtue Is Not Quite Enough: Descartes on Attaining Happiness.Valtteri Viljanen - 2021 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 103 (1):54-69.
Non-Eudaimonism, The Sufficiency of Virtue for Happiness, and Two Senses of the Highest Good in Descartes's Ethics.Frans Svensson - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (2):277-296.
Descartes on the Unity of the Virtues.Saja Parvizian - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Research.
Leibniz on Intellectual Pleasure, Perception of Perfection, and Power.Saja Parvizian - 2021 - Theoria 87 (3):600-627.
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