Using the Passions

Dennis Des Chene

in Emotion and Cognitive Life in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199579914
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745959 | DOI:
Using the Passions

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This paper begins by taking Descartes' metaphor of the tree of philosophy, whose roots are metaphysics, trunk is physics, and branches, mechanics, medicine and morals, seriously. It then asks: What relation, then, does the physiology of the passions bear to the moral philosophy of their use? After distinguishing three grades of use — mere capacity, what I term, usage, and mastery — I formulate the question concerning the relation of natural to moral philosophy, then, as one of understanding how physical capacity stands to usage and mastery, and how claims about capacity bear on claims about proper usage. In what follows I proceed by ascending from the trunk of Descartes' tree upward toward the branch corresponding to moral philosophy, with the intention of tracking the role of physiology and the introduction of what we would call normative content.

Keywords: passions; Descartes; health; moral philosophy; medicine

Chapter.  9593 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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