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Continuity and Innovation in Medieval and Modern PhilosophyKnowledge, Mind and Language$
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John Marenbon

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265499

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265499.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 05 April 2020

What are Faculties of the Soul? Descartes and his Scholastic Background

What are Faculties of the Soul? Descartes and his Scholastic Background

Chapter:
(p.9) What are Faculties of the Soul? Descartes and his Scholastic Background
Source:
Continuity and Innovation in Medieval and Modern Philosophy
Author(s):

Dominik Perler

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265499.003.0002

Descartes famously claimed that a human soul is a single substance without any parts. But he also affirmed that the soul has two faculties, namely intellect and will, which act as ‘two concurrent causes’. This looks quite puzzling. How can there be two causes in a single and indivisible substance? What is their ontological status? And how do they act? This chapter discusses these questions, paying particular attention to Descartes' scholastic background. It argues that there was no unified scholastic doctrine. Descartes rejected Suárez's theory, which took faculties to be really distinct parts and inner agents of the soul, while defending Ockham's theory, which considered them to be mere ways of acting of a single soul. The two explanatory models gave rise to different accounts of the unity of the soul.

Keywords:   soul, faculties, intellect, will, Descartes, Suárez, Ockham

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