History of European Ideas 33 (3):275-291 (2007)

In this essay, I aim to identify and analyze the influence of Cartesian dualism on Rembrandt's pictorial representations of the self. My thesis is that Descartes and Rembrandt share concerns about philosophy's exploration of human nature, concerns rooted in mind–body dualism. Descartes's corpus bears witness to a growing skepticism about the relation between matter and extension. Likewise, Rembrandt's anatomy lessons lead the viewer to question the value of treating humans as scientific objects. I suggest that by reexamining Rembrandt's work in light of the mind–body problem we generate a fuller understanding of Rembrandt's artistic critique and expression and Descartes's mature scientific thinking and abiding influence. My analysis centers on four Rembrandt paintings: The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Nicolaes Tulp ; The Descent from the Cross ; The Sacrifice of Abraham ; and The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Joan Deyman
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DOI 10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2006.11.012
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Descartes on Thinking with the Body.Amelie Oksenberg Rorty - 1992 - In John Cottingham (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Descartes. Cambridge University Press.
Looking at the Body.Michael Platt - 1975 - Hastings Center Report 5 (2):21-28.

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