The Synopsis and the Demonstration of Immortality
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In presenting his scruples concerning Descartes’ Meditationes, Arnauld had raised the question as to whether immortality of the human soul “evidently follows” from the real distinction between the human soul (animus) and body, as Descartes wanted to claim. He noted as a possible objection the case of brute animals whose souls (animae) are, according to the “vulgar” philosophy, distinct from their bodies, but which neverthless, according to the demands of Christian dogma and to the logic of Aristotelian philosophy, perish along with them.1 He immediately stated, however, that a closer study of Descartes’ principles was leading him to a satisfactory resolution of this difficulty which would allow immortality of the rational soul (animus) to be “inferred very easily from the real distinction”. He did not proceed to present his own solution, because just at that time he had received from Mersenne a supplementary text by Descartes, a “little study composed by our illustrious author”. This brief text was the Synopsis sex sequentium Meditationum which Descartes had sent to Mersenne on 31 December 1640, and which was now available to Arnauld to assist him in the study of the Meditationes manuscript. He welcomed it as shedding “much light on the work as a whole” and as providing “the same solution to the point at issue which I was on the point of proposing”.2
KeywordsHuman Soul Substantial Form Real Distinction Prime Matter Christian Philosopher
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