Journal of Early Modern Studies

Volume 6, Issue 2, Fall 2017

Stefano Di Bella
Pages 47-71

Thinking, Time and the Essence of Mind in the Descartes-Arnauld Correspondence

The 1648 exchange between Descartes and Arnauld focuses on several distinct but intertwined topics concerning Descartes’s philosophy of mind. Descartes’s acknowledgment of thinking as the essence of the mind implied a strong ‘actualist’ view of this essential activity. Arnauld’s objcetions reveal the problematic implications of this ontology of mind, from the role of memory and the temporal nature of our thought to the radical challenge of giving the status of an essence to such a temporal activity.