“The Human Mind is a Pure Substance”

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


Making a unique appearance in Descartes’ texts and giving rise to a range of contested interpretations is the phrase substantia pura as it is applied to mens humana in contrast to corpus humanum in the Synopsis: “the human mind is not made up of any accidents in this way, but is a pure substance.”1 Descartes’ meaning seems plain enough — unlike the human body the mind is not constituted by its changing “accidents”, by its “different objects of understanding and different desires and sensations”. This notion of substance excludes individual bodies, but includes “body in general” as well as individual minds.


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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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