Language and the Destiny of Man

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Ştefan Afloroaei / Descartes and the “metaphysical dualism”

Descartes and the “metaphysical dualism”: Excesses in interpreting a classic*
Al.I. Cuza University of Iasi
Abstract The article focuses on one of the most serious accusations brought against Descartes and modern philosophy, namely “the dualism of substance”. The accusers claim that the human body and soul were viewed as completely separate; consequently, their relationship as such and the united being of man become incomprehensible. As has been shown above, the idea of the separation of the soul from the body did not originate with Descartes; it was formulated much earlier, and repeated by a disciple of Descartes’, Henry Leroy, known as Regius. When Descartes became aware of
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I will attempt to discuss below how a famous locus obscurus, “the Cartesian dualism”, emerged and has remained prominent to this day. It can only be properly understood, I believe, in connection with the emergence in the modern world of certain modes of intersubjective life, such as communication in the scholarly and academic environments. To this end, I will call attention to one the most serious accusations levelled at Descartes and the entire modern philosophy, i.e. “the dualism

Ştefan Afloroaei / Descartes and the “metaphysical dualism”

of substances”: the human body and soul have been understood as being two completely separate substances. Consequently, both the relationship between them and man’s lived presence would have become totally incomprehensible. It was claimed that this dualism of substances was the unmistakable symptom of metaphysical thought, which would possibly mean that the very presence of metaphysics is indicative of a serious case of misapprehension or deviation1. However, the very idea of “Cartesian dualism” may be viewed as a locus obscurus in the philosophical thought. It is an obscure place not only because it has been inadequately examined or debated. Rather because recent history has accepted it completely as the symbolic thesis of a whole tradition of thought. Therefore, it is not surprising to find references
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