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Union and Unity

Union and Unity

(p.160) 5 Union and Unity
On Descartes' Passive Thought
Jean-Luc Marion, Christina M. Gschwandtner
University of Chicago Press

Descartes’ breakthrough was almost immediately misunderstood by his contemporaries and subsequent commentators and adversaries. The polemics with his self-appointed student Regius show that Descartes strongly disagrees with Regius’ presentation of his metaphysics, but ends up employing scholastic terminology, such as that of substance, to salvage his insights. He ends up calling my body a “substantial form,” while denying that it constitutes a substance. This ends up covering over his insights and confusing them. Regius speaks of the human as an ens per accidens, which Descartes strongly rejects. The union comprises two complete substances, but does so without itself forming a third substance or a composition of the two; rather, it is prior to them and is a quasi-substantial union without being a third substance. The metaphysical language of substance and accidents must be rejected. Passive thinking is an event that happens to me rather than constituting a substance or an object.

Keywords:   Regius, substantial form, ens per se, metaphysics

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