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Obscurity and confusion: nonreductionism in Descartes's
 biology and philosophy

(2016)
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(UGent)
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Abstract
Descartes is usually taken to be a strict reductionist, and he frequently describes his work in reductionist terms. This dissertation, however, makes the case that he is a nonreductionist in certain areas of his philosophy and natural philosophy (biology and the mind–body union in particular). This might seem like simple inconsistency, or a mismatch between Descartes's ambitions and his achievements. I argue that here it is more than that: nonreductionism is compatible with his wider commitments, and allowing for irreducibles increases the explanatory power of his system. Moreover, Descartes depends on nonreductionist knowledge and on irreducibles in order to maintain his epistemology and metaphysics. That is, there is more in the Cartesian world than mind, matter, and God.
Keywords
reductionism, subjective standpoint metaphysics, Descartes, nonreductionism, history of philosophy, mechanisms, history and philosophy of biology

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Hutchins, Barnaby. 2016. “Obscurity and Confusion: Nonreductionism in Descartes’s
 Biology and Philosophy”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy.
APA
Hutchins, Barnaby. (2016). Obscurity and confusion: nonreductionism in Descartes’s
 biology and philosophy. Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent, Belgium.
Vancouver
1.
Hutchins B. Obscurity and confusion: nonreductionism in Descartes’s
 biology and philosophy. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy; 2016.
MLA
Hutchins, Barnaby. “Obscurity and Confusion: Nonreductionism in Descartes’s
 Biology and Philosophy.” 2016 : n. pag. Print.
@phdthesis{7225678,
  abstract     = {Descartes is usually taken to be a strict reductionist, and he frequently describes his work in reductionist terms. This dissertation, however, makes the case that he is a nonreductionist in certain areas of his philosophy and natural philosophy (biology and the mind--body union in particular). This might seem like simple inconsistency, or a mismatch between Descartes's ambitions and his achievements. I argue that here it is more than that: nonreductionism is compatible with his wider commitments, and allowing for irreducibles increases the explanatory power of his system. Moreover, Descartes depends on nonreductionist knowledge and on irreducibles in order to maintain his epistemology and metaphysics. That is, there is more in the Cartesian world than mind, matter, and God.},
  author       = {Hutchins, Barnaby},
  keyword      = {reductionism,subjective standpoint metaphysics,Descartes,nonreductionism,history of philosophy,mechanisms,history and philosophy of biology},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {191},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Obscurity and confusion: nonreductionism in Descartes's\unmatched{2028} biology and philosophy},
  year         = {2016},
}