Descartes and the Danger of Irresolution

Essays in Philosophy 14 (2):162-178 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Descartes's approach to practical judgments about what is beneficial or harmful, or what to pursue or avoid, is almost exactly the opposite of his approach to theoretical judgments about the true nature of things. Instead of the cautious skepticism for which Descartes is known, throughout his ethical writings he recommends developing the habit of making firm judgments and resolutely carrying them out, no matter how doubtful and uncertain they may be. Descartes, strikingly, takes irresolution to be the source of remorse and repentance, of vice, and of a weak soul. In order to explain its dangerousness, this essay offers an analysis of irresolution as a failure of the will to determine itself to follow a judgment in the face of ignorance or uncertainty. This analysis connects irresolution to weakness of will and explains why Descartes regards resolution as an essential component of virtue.

Similar books and articles

Never Let the Passions Be Your Guide: Descartes and the Role of the Passions.Shoshana Brassfield - 2012 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (3):459-477.
Descartes, Passion, and the Ability to Do Otherwise.Christopher Gilbert - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:275-298.
Essays on Descartes.Paul Hoffman - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Descartes on Indeterminate Judgment and Great Deeds.Keith G. Fennen - 2012 - International Philosophical Quarterly 52 (1):21-39.
Ethical Ideas in Descartes’ Philosophy.Desh Raj Sirswal - 2008 - K.U. Research Journal of Arts and Humanities:89-97.
Descartes' Deontological Turn: Reason, Will, and Virtue in the Later Writings.Eric Stencil - 2011 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 (4):496-497.
Passion and Sexual Desire in Descartes.Anthony Beavers - 2000 - Philosophy and Theology 12 (2):223-243.
The Epistemic Problem of Cartesian Passions.Ron Williston - 2003 - International Philosophical Quarterly 43 (3):309-332.

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-09-07

Downloads
597 (#16,066)

6 months
71 (#15,538)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Shoshana R. Brassfield
Frostburg State University

Citations of this work

Never Let the Passions Be Your Guide: Descartes and the Role of the Passions.Shoshana Brassfield - 2012 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (3):459-477.

Add more citations