Passion and virtue in Descartes

Amherst, N.Y.: Humanity Books (2003)
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Anglophone philosophers have on the whole overlooked much of the last ten years or so of Descartes' philosophical career. In the period following publication of the Meditations, however, Descartes was extremely active in attempting to develop a comprehensive ethics, rooted in his analysis of human passions. His work in this area grew out of a lengthy correspondence with Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia and was later systematically presented in the Passions of the Soul. The present volume is the first collection of essays dealing specifically with this aspect of Descartes' thinking. It is thus a valuable contribution to our understanding of the first modern philosopher. Since in the Passions Descartes provides us with the most sophisticated and extended discussion of the composite human being anywhere in his writings, this volume is an indispensable aid to understanding the full scope of Cartesian anthropology. Just what is the nature of the passions? Does Descartes' analysis of the passions undercut his dualism? How do the passions both contribute to our good, and, if we are not careful, prevent us from recognizing it? How can the passions be regulated rationally? How do the passions affect our freedom? These and other questions are addressed in these original and insightful articles, all by leading Descartes scholars.



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Byron Williston
Wilfrid Laurier University

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