Two Treatises in One Volume: Kenelm Digby between Body and Soul

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Almost at the end of The Two Treatises, Kenelm Digby had to conclude that his treatment of body and soul had not brought a contact between the two any nearer. This conclusion did not come as a surprise. From the start it was Digby’s intention to prove the spirituality and immortality of the soul by showing that the principles that govern the world of material bodies cannot explain the workings of the soul. In spite of such an unbridgeable gap between the two domains, however, Digby must of course admit that the soul acquires knowledge of the world of bodies (as well as of its own operations). This raises the question: Does Digby have the conceptual resources to bridge a seemingly unbridgeable gap after all? What makes this traditional question about the relationship between body and soul even more interesting in the case of Digby is his self-professed allegiance to the philosophy of Aristotle in spite of a dualism that comes close to that of Descartes. This article will analyze several tensions that arise from Digby’s attempt to synthesize several different elements developed in dialogue with contemporaries such as Thomas Hobbes, Descartes, his close friend Thomas White, and the Aristotelian traditions still very much alive in Digby’s time. Starting with Digby’s account of common notions, the article will study Digby’s account of the soul’s knowledge, locating it in the wider philosophical controversies of the time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Philosophy of Kenelm Digby (1603-1665)
EditorsLaura Georgescu, Han Thomas Adriaenssen
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-99822-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-99821-9
Publication statusPublished - 19-May-2022

Publication series

NameInternational Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées

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