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Una difficile libertà. Virtù, conatus, conoscenza in Descartes e Spinoza

digital Una difficile libertà.
Virtù, conatus, conoscenza in Descartes e Spinoza
Article
journal RIVISTA DI FILOSOFIA NEO-SCOLASTICA
issue RIVISTA DI FILOSOFIA NEO-SCOLASTICA - 2020 - 2. Ethica e Passions de l’âme Spinoza con e contro Descartes
title Una difficile libertà. Virtù, conatus, conoscenza in Descartes e Spinoza
A Difficult Freedom. Virtue, conatus, Knowledge in Descartes and Spinoza
author
publisher Vita e Pensiero
format Article | Pdf
online since 07-2020
doi 10.26350/001050_000193
issn 00356247 (print) | 18277926 (digital)
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In this contribution, I will concentrate on Descartes and Spinoza’s respective notions of «virtue», using them as a testing ground to understand two opposing conceptions of man and the sphere of the passions. Descartes’ reflection on virtue, understood as a magnanimity of the soul that ensues from a rational love of oneself, falls into the framework of the unity between mind and body elaborated in the Sixth Meditation and further discussed in his correspondence dating to the ’40s with Elisabeth and Pierre Chanut, as well as in the Passions de l’âme. Spinoza’s virtue, instead, is subordinated to a force (conatus) that coincides with the «essence» of man. This essence, as is explained in the third part of the Ethica, depends on the power of the infinite substance, causa sui in each existing mode. Descartes’ reflection on virtue extends the res cogitans into the realm of the affects (res sentiens), that he places within an integrated conception of man. Now, how can a law of nature, that by Spinoza’s own admission comes before (E4P22) all modal determinations – whether active or passive – be the «essence» that explains or the «cause» that produces the passage from human bondage to freedom? If considered against the backdrop of the natural effort to conserve oneself, these terms will reveal an insoluble conflict.

keywords

Descartes, Spinoza, Virtue, Passions, conatus

Author biography

Email: diego.donna2@unibo.it

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