A Spectator at the Theater of the World

Stephen Voss

in New Essays on the Rationalists

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195165418
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868285 | DOI:
A Spectator at the Theater of the World

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Descartes's epistemology, morals, and metaphysics – each offer reason to look on real life as a spectator looks on a theater production. The meditator seeking certainty watches his body move as in a dream and employs an entirely passive faculty of knowledge. In order to act firmly and yet not risk disappointment, the moral subject confines action to the soul, refusing to count bodily activities as actions, and cultivates a desire free from passion. After the Meditations, the metaphysician abandons the thesis that soul and body constitute a human being, consequently limiting human goods to goods of the soul alone and devaluing embodied life in the world.

Keywords: action; certainty; Descartes; desire; knowledge; spectator; Stephen Voss; theater

Chapter.  12053 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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