Reforming the Art of Living

Nature, Virtue, and Religion in Descartes's Epistemology

  • Rico Vitz

Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 24)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Rico Vitz
    Pages 1-7
  3. Rico Vitz
    Pages 23-36
  4. Rico Vitz
    Pages 37-52
  5. Rico Vitz
    Pages 53-71
  6. Rico Vitz
    Pages 73-82
  7. Rico Vitz
    Pages 123-129
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 131-154

About this book


Descartes’s concern with the proper method of belief formation is evident in the titles of his works—e.g., The Search after Truth, The Rules for the Direction of the Mind, and The Discourse on Method of rightly conducting one’s reason and seeking the truth in the sciences. It is most apparent, however, in his famous discussions, both in the Meditations and in the Principles, of one particularly noteworthy source of our doxastic errors—namely, the misuse of one’s will. What is not widely recognized, let alone appreciated and understood, is the relationship between his concern with belief formation and his concern with virtue. In fact, few seem to realize that Descartes regards doxastic errors as moral errors and as sins both because such errors are intrinsically vicious and because they entail notably deleterious social consequences.


Reforming the Art of Living seeks to rectify this rather common oversight in two ways. First, it aims to elucidate the nature of Descartes’s account of virtuous belief formation. Second, it aims both (i) to illuminate the social significance of Descartes’s philosophical program as it relates to the understanding and practice not of science, but of religion and (ii) to develop a kind of Leibnizian critique of this aspect of his program. More specifically, it aims to show that Descartes’s project is “dangerous,” insofar as it is subversive not only of traditional Christianity but also of other traditional forms of religion, both in theory and in practice.


Rene Descartes cartesian framework method of belief formation morality and Descartes traditional religious morality virtuous belief

Authors and affiliations

  • Rico Vitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyAzusa Pacific UniversityAzusaUSA

Bibliographic information

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