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Descartes and the Primacy of Practice: The Role of the Passions in the Search for Truth

Amy M. Schmitter
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Vol. 108, No. 1/2, Selected Papers Presented in 2001 at the 75th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association (Mar., 2002), pp. 99-108
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4321238
Page Count: 10
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Descartes and the Primacy of Practice: The Role of the Passions in the Search for Truth
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Abstract

This paper argues that Descartes conceives of theoretical reason in terms derived from practical reason, particularly in the role he gives to the passions. That the passions serve - under "normal" circumstances - to preserve the union of mind and body is a well-known feature of Descartes's defense of our native make-up. But they are equally important in our more purely theoretical endeavors. Some passions, most notably "wonder," provide a crucial source of motivation in the search after truth, and also serve to reinforce memory. Our cognitive successes and failures can also be tracked by passions and trains of passions.

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