The Matter of Mind: Reason and Experience in the Age of Descartes
What influence did René Descartes' concept of mind-body dualism have on early modern conceptions of the self? In The Matter of Mind, Christopher Braider challenges the presumed centrality of Descartes' groundbreaking theory to seventeenth-century French culture. He details the broad opposition to rational self-government among Descartes' contemporaries, and attributes conventional links between Descartes and the myth of the 'modern subject' to post-structuralist assessments.
The Matter of Mind presents studies drawn from a range of disciplines and examines the paintings of Nicolas Poussin, the drama of Pierre Corneille, and the theology of Blaise Pascal. Braider argues that if early modern thought converged on a single model, then it was the experimental picture based on everyday experience proposed by Descartes' sceptical adversary, Michel de Montaigne. Forceful and provocative, The Matter of Mind will encourage lively debate on the norms and discourses of seventeenth-century philosophy.