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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy


published on September 8, 2016

David Kaye
DOI: 10.5840/epoche201682567

Descartes and Nietzsche on the Soul of Man and Life-Everlasting

In this work I defend, not the content, but, rather, the logical coherence of Descartes’s system by insisting on the ontological priority of substance over attributes in spite of the fact that Descartes seems, on occasion, to suggest otherwise. This, in turn, however, allows us to better grasp the nature of Descartes’ Augustinian conception of the soul, and what it might resemble should it be granted God’s concurrence, and, thus, eternal life. At the same time, I demonstrate, by means of his Thomistic inheritance, the philosophically sound reasons why Descartes leaves these issues somewhat opaque. Finally, these reflections lead us to Nietzsche, and by contrasting the latter’s thoughts on science and freedom to those of Descartes we are led to what, for Nietzsche, would be the ultimate desideratum of such Cartesian longings for the ‘tranquility’ and ‘happiness’ of life-everlasting: a ‘will to nothingness.’