The Reflective Self: Early Modern Psychologies. René Descartes (1596-1650). RATIONALIST: DEDUCE FROM FIRST PRINCIPLES. DISCOURSE ON METHOD (1637).
The Reflective Self:Early Modern Psychologies
“But I soon noticed that while I thus wished to think everything false, it was necessarily true that I who thought so was something. Since this truth, I think therefore I am or exist (cogito ergo sum), was so firm and assured that all the most extravagant suppositions of the sceptics were unable to shake, I judged that I could safely accept it as the first principle of the philosophy I was seeking.”
(Discourse on Method, Fourth Part, p. 24)
res cogitans —Mind Substance immaterial
res extensa —Bodily Matter
extended in space
17th Clockwork and Automata
Descartes’ depiction of the
mechanics of the response
Movement of animal spirits
Through the nerves
(Treatise of Man,
Descartes, Treatise of Man  (Prometheus Books, 2003), p.76
Child’s Mind as Blank Tablet- Tabula Rasa
Importance of education
Treatise of Human Nature,
Being an Attempt to Introduce
the Experimental Method of
Reasoning into Moral Subjects
“The intense view of these manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another. Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose anger must I dread?”
Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, pp. 316-317
Hume writes, we:
“are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity and are in a perpetual flux and movement.”
(Hume, Treatise, p. 300).
“Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hour’s amusement, I wou’d return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain’d and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.”
Treatise of Human Nature, p. 316.
It is evident that all the sciences have a relation, greater or less, to human nature…To explain the principles of human nature, we in effect propose a complete system of the sciences, built on a foundation almost entirely new, and the only one upon which they can stand with any security…and the only solid foundation we can give to this science itself must be laid on experience and observation.”
(Hume, Treatise p. 123).
Impressions: sensations of the world
Ideas: less vivid copies of sensations—
we might call them memories or images
1) there are a great number of operations of the mind.
2) reflection is not habitual (and needs to be practiced).
3) it is difficult to attend to the process of imagination as it is not a thing.
4) sometimes the operation ceases as we watch it.
Active Powers (Will): self-esteem,
friendship, sexual affection, emulation, duty, veneration, beauty, imagination—35 in all
Intellectual/Cognitive Powers: five senses, perception, size and novelty, memory, judgment and reason, abstraction, conception and moral taste.
rational soul/pineal gland
John Locke’s Tabula Rasa, 1690s
David Hume and Skepticism, 1740s
Reflection and Self-doubt, even illness and melancholy
Fracturing of Self and Hume’s solution
Thomas Reid, a common-sense philosopher, 1760s
Active/Passive Powers of the Mind