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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 52, Issue 1, March 2012

Keith G. Fennen
Pages 21-39

Descartes on Indeterminate Judgment and Great Deeds

A critical examination of Descartes’s Passions of the Soul and Discourse on Method reveals that indeterminate judgments (judgments that do not involve certainty) play a fundamental role in the Cartesian corpus. The following paper establishes this claim and argues that such an analysis provides an avenue for understanding the relationship that Descartes envisions between his Discourse and its readers as well as for understanding his attempts to establish his new science. Finally, it argues that Descartes’s provocative claim in the Passions that generous souls are “naturally led to do great deeds” reveals an heroic and Aristotelian element not only in the Passions but also in Descartes’s own actions.

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