Descartes and the Mechanization of Fear

Chapter

Abstract

The Passions of the Soul is Descartes’s main treatise on the passions (or what are currently more usually referred to as the emotions), in which the philosopher willingly investigates the passions from the perspective of a physiologist rather than a philosopher. Conceptually, Descartes’s approach is a strong departure from the humanist concept of emotions, employing as it does a mechanical strategy consisting in the separation of soul and body as different ontological entities in constant interaction. It is argued that Descartes’s reduction of fear to the product of a hydraulic mechanism was unfortunate, as it re-oriented understanding of this emotion away from philosophical insight. Moreover, the therapy of the passions suggested by Descartes is mostly based on ancient Stoic remedies, and his therapy does not follow from the mechanism of the passions that he attempted to describe with clockwork precision.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Western AustraliaFremantleAustralia

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