Les Passions PDF’ published work, completed in 1649 and dedicated to Queen Christina of Sweden, the author contributes to a long tradition of theorizing « the passions ». Notable precursors to Descartes who articulated their own theories of the passions include St.
Destiné aux lycéens des classes terminales et aux étudiants des grandes écoles. « Copyright Electre »
In 1643 Descartes began a prolific written correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, in which he answered her moral questions, especially the nature of happiness, passions, and ethics. Amélie Rorty asserts that the examination of the passions present in Descartes’ work plays a significant role in illustrating the development of the perception of the cognitive mind in western society. Descartes’ need to reconcile the influence of the passions on otherwise rational beings marks a clear point in the advancement of human self-estimation, paralleling the increasingly rational-based scientific method. It was in this context that Descartes wished to speak of the passions, neither as a moralist nor from a psychological perspective, but as a method of exploring a fundamental aspect of natural science.
Philosopher, but only as a Physicist. In the context of the mechanistic view of life which was gaining popularity in seventeenth century science, Descartes perceived the body as an autonomous machine, capable of moving independently of the soul. It was from this physiological perception of the body that Descartes developed his theories on the passions of the soul. Formerly considered to be an anomaly, the passions became a natural phenomenon, necessitating a scientific explanation.
This is what is known as Cartesian Dualism. The passions such as Descartes understood them correspond roughly to the sentiments now called emotions, but there exist several important distinctions between the two. The principle of these is that passions, as is suggested by the word’s etymology, are by nature suffered and endured, and are therefore the result of an external cause acting upon a subject. The « spirits » mentioned in this definition are « animal spirits, » a notion central to understanding Descartes’ physiology. He maintains that humans should work to better understand their function in order to control them rather than be controlled by them. The organization of Descartes’ Passions is indicative of the author’s philosophy.
Applying his famous method to moral philosophy, Descartes represented the problem of the passions of the soul in terms of its simplest integral components. But there aren’t many simple and basic passions you’ll easily see that there are only six: wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy, sadness. All the others are either composed from some of these six or they are species of them. So I’ll help you to find your way through the great multitude of passions by treating the six basic ones separately, and then showing how all the others stem from them. Descartes begins his investigation on their physiological effects and their influence on human behavior. The work is further divided, within the three greater parts, into 212 short articles which rarely exceed a few paragraphs in length.