Foundations of Cartesian Ethics

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9780391038042: Foundations of Cartesian Ethics
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One of the expected fruits of Descartes' philosophical enterprise is "the highest and most perfect moral system," a system which, organically developed from its metaphysical and physical foundations, will provide the moral agent with direction and purpose in each of life's contingencies. Yet, Descartes' published work contains no such moral system, and commentators have generally agreed that Descartes "has entered the history of philosophy as perhaps the only systematic philosopher of the first rank who failed to provide any methodical treatment of moral problems."
Through a careful investigation of primarily Descartes' Correspondence and his final treatise, The Passions of the Soul, Vance Morgan here constructs the framework of a working ethical system, consistent with the spirit of Cartesian metaphysics and physics. He finds that while Descartes' metaphysics are remarkable for their insistence on indubitably clear and distinct principles, his ethic is equally remarkable in its conclusion that indubitably certain, inviolable principles are not available in the realm of morals and human activity. Virtue is not defined with reference to the results of one's actions, nor to one's faithful adherence to a set of rationally derived moral directives. Rather, virtue consists in the moral attitude with which one lives one's life, the psychological conviction that one has always resolutely acted upon the best intellectual activity of which one is capable.

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9781573922913: Foundations of Cartesian Ethics

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ISBN 10:  1573922919 ISBN 13:  9781573922913
Publisher: Humanity Books, 1994
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