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The Third Primitive Notion

The Third Primitive Notion

(p.119) 4 The Third Primitive Notion
On Descartes' Passive Thought
Jean-Luc Marion, Christina M. Gschwandtner
University of Chicago Press

The “union” of the meum corpus has emerged as a third primitive notion alongside mind and body. How is such a third notion to be reconciled with Descartes’ earlier account of the simple natures? Does it give rise to a third onto-theo-logical constitution of Cartesian metaphysics? Yet, although the union of mind and body serves as a third notion alongside the others, it is not a composition of the two and actually becomes the first on which the others are based. It also does not function separately but displays elements of both thought and extension, which mutually qualify each other in the experience of my body. In the case of my flesh, the soul takes on a manner of extension and the body becomes indivisible in a certain sense. Descartes insists that this union is known not through clear ideas, but through pure sensing, a pure experience of the self. Life thinks itself in auto-affection; the union is defined by the facticity of its experience.

Keywords:   primitive notion, union, simple nature, extension, thought

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