Ideas from 'The Passions of the Soul' by René Descartes [1649], by Theme Structure

[found in 'The Passions of the Soul' by Descartes,René (ed/tr Voss,Stephen H.) [Hackett 1989,0-87220-035-3]].

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17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 2. Interactionism
The pineal gland links soul to body, and unites the two symmetrical sides of the body
                        Full Idea: The soul is united with the body in just one place, a gland (the pineal) in the centre of the brain. It is placed so that its slightest movement will affect the passions, and it plays the essential role of uniting the two symmetrical sides of the body.
                        From: report of René Descartes (The Passions of the Soul [1649], §31) by PG - Db (ideas)
                        A reaction: See Idea 4862 for Spinoza's nice response to Descartes' proposal. If Descartes had followed brain research for the last four hundred years, at what point would he have wavered? If every single part of the brain seems to 'interact', dualism looks unlikely.
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 3. Emotions
For Descartes passions are God-given preservers of the mind-body union
                        Full Idea: Descartes sees passions not as opinions, but as functional devices that the Creator has designed for us to help preserve the body-soul substantial union.
                        From: report of René Descartes (The Passions of the Soul [1649]) by Charles Taylor - Sources of the Self §8
                        A reaction: I wonder what Descartes would have made of the theory of evolution?
Are there a few primary passions (say, joy, sadness and desire)?
                        Full Idea: Descartes says there are six primary passions (wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy and sadness); Spinoza says there are just three (joy, sadness and desire).
                        From: report of René Descartes (The Passions of the Soul [1649]) by John Cottingham - The Rationalists p.172
                        A reaction: A dubious project. However, it is now agreed that there are a few (six?) basic universal facial expressions, to which these passions may correspond.
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / b. Volitionism
Merely willing to walk leads to our walking
                        Full Idea: Our merely willing to walk has the consequence that our legs move and we walk.
                        From: René Descartes (The Passions of the Soul [1649], 18), quoted by Rowland Stout - Action 1 'Volitionism'
                        A reaction: Stout attributes this to Descartes' dualism, as if legs are separate from persons. Stout says the idea of a prior mental act is not usually now considered as part of an action, or even to exist at all. If the volition is intentional, there is a regress.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / a. Virtues
Descartes makes strength of will the central virtue
                        Full Idea: Descartes makes strength of will the central virtue.
                        From: report of René Descartes (The Passions of the Soul [1649]) by Charles Taylor - Sources of the Self §8
                        A reaction: Presumably strength of will can serve evil ends, so this is a bit confusing.
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 1. Death
We don't die because the soul departs; the soul departs because the organs cease functioning
                        Full Idea: We ought to hold, on the contrary, that the soul takes its leave when we die only because this heat ceases and the organs that bring about bodily movement decay.
                        From: René Descartes (The Passions of the Soul [1649], I.5), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 24.5
                        A reaction: This sounds like a pretty major change in our concept of death, given that we all now agree with Descartes.