What influence did Rene Descartes' concept of mind-body dualism have on early modern conceptions of the self? In The Matter of Mind, Christopher Braider challenges the presumed centrality of Descartes' groundbreaking theory to seventeenth-century French culture. He details the broad opposition to rational self-government among Descartes' contemporaries, and attributes conventional links between Descartes and the myth of the 'modern subject' to post-structuralist assessments. The Matter of Mind presents studies drawn from a range of disciplines and examines the paintings of Nicolas Poussin, the drama of Pierre Corneille, and the theology of Blaise Pascal. Braider argues that if early modern thought converged on a single model, then it was the experimental picture based on everyday experience proposed by Descartes' sceptical adversary, Michel de Montaigne. Forceful and provocative, The Matter of Mind will encourage lively debate on the norms and discourses of seventeenth-century philosophy.
Christopher Braider is a professor in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Introduction. Experience and the Matter of Mind: Dualism, Classicism, and the Myth of the Modern Subject in Seventeenth-Century France * Front Matter: Placing Descarte's Meditations* A State of Mind: Embodying the Sovereign in Poussin's Judgment of Solomon* The Witch from Colchis: Coreneille's M dee, Chim ne's Le Cid, and the Invention of Classical Genius* Seeing is Believing: Image and Imaginaire in Moli re's Sganarelle* The Ghost in the Machine: Reason, Faith, and Experience in Pascalian Apologetics*Des mots sans fin: Meaning and the End(s) of History in Boileau's Satire XII, "Sur l'Equivoque"