The Embodied Descartes: Contemporary Readings of L’Homme

  • Barnaby R. Hutchins
  • Christoffer Basse Eriksen
  • Charles T. WolfeEmail author
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 43)


A certain reading of Descartes, which we refer to as ‘the embodied Descartes’, is emerging from recent scholarship on L’Homme, in keeping with the interpretive trend which emphasizes Descartes’s identity as a natural philosopher. This reading complicates our understanding of Descartes’s philosophical project: far from strictly separating human minds from bodies, the embodied Descartes keeps them tightly integrated, while animal bodies behave in ways quite distinct from those of other pieces of extended substance. Here, we identify three categories of embodiment in contemporary readings of Descartes’s physiology: (1) bodily health and function, (2) embodied reflex and memory, and (3) embodied cognition. All present more or less strong versions of the embodied Descartes. Together, they constitute a compelling reading of a Cartesian natural philosophy that, if not expressly antidualist, is an awfully long way from the canonical picture.


Memory Trace Animal Body Living Body Natural Philosopher Animal Spirit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Partial support for this research was provided by the Israel Science Foundation grant 469/13.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barnaby R. Hutchins
    • 1
  • Christoffer Basse Eriksen
    • 2
  • Charles T. Wolfe
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and History of IdeasAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Philosophy and Moral SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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