Understanding dualism through emotion: Descartes, Spinoza, Sartre


  • Daniel O’Shiel Instituto de Filosofía, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile.




Descartes, dualism, emotion, Sartre, Spinoza.


This paper argues that a proper understanding of the epistemological and metaphysical issue of dualism can only be attained through a thoroughgoing analysis of human emotion. Indeed, it is no coincidence that three main thinkers on dualism, whether they were apparent proponents (Descartes), opponents (Spinoza), or had a somewhat ambiguous status (Sartre), were also heavily involved in understanding emotion. Ultimately, a proper comprehension of emotion shows the issue of dualism to be moot when it comes to our pre-reflective, everyday lives; dualism is a theoretical interest that shows how we must necessarily posit two essential realms – one of nature and one of consciousness – that are nevertheless always already entwined in pre-reflective and immediately lived experiences like emotion. In this manner, a proper understanding of emotion shows that dualism is not an issue on the everyday lived level, but certainly is on epistemological and metaphysical ones. On these levels, dualism is an essential tool that must be understood and used properly if one is to give a thoroughgoing account of human nature from a theoretical standpoint, where avoiding conflations between immediate and reflective experiences, as well as first-person and third-person standpoints, is crucial. Here, one needs to be aware not only of our dual nature of matter and mind, but also of our dual – which is to say scientific and phenomenological ways – of tackling theoretical problems. In short, one may give a proper, dynamic account of human emotion and simultaneously recognize the advantage of thinking in dual – but not “dualistic” – registers.


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Biografia do Autor

Daniel O’Shiel, Instituto de Filosofía, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile.

Instituto de Filosofía, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile.



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Como Citar

O’Shiel, D. (2019). Understanding dualism through emotion: Descartes, Spinoza, Sartre. Revista De Filosofia Aurora, 31(54). https://doi.org/10.7213/1980-5934.31.054.DS04