Descartes's Moral Theory

Descartes's Moral Theory

Descartes's Moral Theory

Descartes's Moral Theory

Synopsis

Most Cartesian scholars focus on the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of the philosopher's texts. In this long awaited volume, John Marshall invites us to reconsider Rene Descartes as an ethicist. Through an unconventional study of his statements about morality found in such writings as the Discourse on the Method, the Passions of the Soul, and various correspondence, Marshall shows how Descartes confirmed and elaborated his earlier "provisional morality" in his later works

Marshall demonstrates that Descartes left a fully developed conception of moral virtue and happiness along with other accounts of values and norms, and he expands on these accounts to describe Cartesian moral theory as a whole. He discusses the morale par provision of the Discourse, treats Descartes's "final morality" by focusing on his account of virtue, and sets out a Cartesian theory of value and system of duties. Throughout the text he uses numerous quotations to illustrate Descartes's comments on ethics, and he considers views of other commentators such as Gueroult.

Excerpt

As I shall argue in Part One, once we take quite seriously Descartes's statement of his morale and his commentary on it, we find the beginnings of a powerful moral conception, for which he gives not a little supporting argument. There are many fine commentaries on this morale, but none, I believe, does Descartes's morale par provision full justice.

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