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The importance of the substantial union for the establishment of the Cartesian knowledge tree

Grant number: 19/04830-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Tessa Moura Lacerda
Grantee:Beatriz Laporta
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):19/21617-2 - A research into substantial Cartesian union: the field of obscure and confusing, BE.EP.MS


It is to investigate how Descartes opened space for uncertain and confused knowledge in his philosophy, from the consideration of the substantial union between soul and body. In the "tree of knowledge" presented in the preface to his Principles of Philosophy, the root is metaphysics, the trunk to physics and the major branches of mechanics, medicine and morals. It seeks to show that it is the metaphysical "root" and the physical "trunk" that underlie the practical question of morality, the plane of knowledge of experience and feeling, that is, uncertain and confused knowledge.The Correspondence with Elisabeth of 1643 brings new light on the way of thinking this practical matter, insofar as it deals with how the soul can move the body. It is intended to see why Descartes proposes to Elisabeth to consider the soul as extensive to understand how it has the force to move the body, because the question has an impossibility of rational response.It is believed that it is the knowledge of the substantial union, as suggested in this Correspondence, which allows Descartes to propose a new physics, different from the Aristotelian-Thomistic physics of the substantial forms.