A Bodily Sense of Self in Descartes and Malebranche

  • Colin ChamberlainEmail author
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 16)


Although Descartes and Malebranche argue that we are immaterial thinking things, they also maintain that each of us stands in a unique experiential relation to a single human body, such that we feel as though this body belongs to us and is part of ourselves. This paper examines Descartes’s and Malebranche’s accounts of this feeling. They hold that our experience of being embodied is grounded in affective bodily sensations that feel good or bad: namely, sensations of pleasure and pain, hunger and thirst, and so on. These bodily sensations ground our experiential identification with the body because they represent the body’s needs and interests as though they were own, such that we experience an important aspect of our well-being as consisting in the preservation of the body. According to these Cartesians, then, we feel embodied in part because we experience ourselves as having a bodily good.


Bodily Sensation Painful Sensation Sensory Experience Bodily Experience Emphasis Mine 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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