On the role and function of Augustine’s inwardness in the constitution of Decartes’ cogito

William de Jesus Teixeira


The main aim of this paper is to show how “Augustinian inwardness” has played a decisive role in the constitution of Descartes’ cogito. So first I will hold that Descartes has borrowed this inward feature of Augustine’s thought and developed from it a method of introspection which is widely used in his Meditations on first philosophy. Next, I will show that it will be by subordinating the simple natures to the “subject of inherence” issued from the mind-body distinction undertaken under the influence of Augustinian inwardness that Descartes will shape the metaphysical notion of res cogitans (thinking substance). In the end, it will be clear that Augustine’ inwardness helps us understand not only how “thought” was raised to the ontological role it plays in Descartes’ metaphysics, but also why it has ontological priority among the other intellectual simple natures.

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