What Constitutes a Demonstration of Immortality?

  • C. F. Fowler
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 160)


Mersenne’s expressions of disappointment at not finding in the Meditationes the expected definitive proof of immortality led Descartes to define more precisely the limits of the role of reason in the question of soul survival. Mersenne’s objections reveal an expectation that reason would address every possible aspect of the question, including the ultimate challenge arising from God’s power to annihilate what is by nature incorruptible. Descartes’ replies indicate where the role of reason ends and that of faith enters. Both Mersenne and Descartes could find support for their divergent positions in the vast contemporary philosophical and apologetic literature on the nature of the human soul.


Seventeenth Century Human Soul Real Distinction Rational Soul Physical Proof 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. F. Fowler
    • 1
  1. 1.The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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