Master's degree
Research title
The concept of habit from Descartes' The Passions of the Soul
Research abstract

Cartesian dualism has been criticized ever since its formulation, and, according to Merleau-Ponty, it may seem contradictory without an idea of positive infinity present in the great rationalism of the 17th century. Consequently, Cartesian dualism emerges as either a glaring antinomy or as dependent on the concept of positive infinity. It is therefore important to question whether Descartes had already established arguments capable of elucidating what many critics consider impasses in his system. In this sense, The Passions of the Soul emerges as central, as it presents how the body, something determined, is united to the soul, which is free, without this canceling them out in their specificities. Descartes then details the terms of his dualism by developing the idea of the union of soul and body. In light of these circumstances, it seems essential to delve deeper into this union through a proper consideration of the concept of habit. Somewhat underexplored, habit is what enables the soul to reorganize its own passions, guide the body, and act virtuously. Thus, this research considers Merleau-Ponty's indications of Cartesian dualism and uses the concept of habit in The Passions of the Soul to investigate whether Descartes points to possible solutions or innovations to the issues engendered by the dualism of his philosophy.

Graduate Advisor
Homero Silveira Santiago
Date of defense