Descartes’ Notion of Meum Corpus and Jean-Luc Marion’s Challenge to “the Myth of Cartesian Dualism”
Keywords:Descartes, Cartesian dualism, mind, soul, body, substance, substantial union
Jean-Luc Marion, in his latest book, “Sur la pensée passive de Descartes,” recently published in an English translation, challenges something he refers to, in the English subtitle, as “the Myth of Cartesian Dualism” and counters it with his original interpretation of Descartes’ notion of meum corpus. This article explores the reasons he adduces for this purpose. The case is made that Marion fails to provide sufficiently solid argumentative and textual support for his construal in this respect and that traditional substance dualistic interpretative resources allow for a more straightforward and systematic reading. It is argued that Marion’s central dualism-deflecting claim, that in the Meditations, “my body” is not an extended thing but a mode of thought, is undermined by an analysis that carefully considers the context of those Descartes’ statements to which Marion appeals.
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