Descartes’ Medical Philosophy: The Organic Solution to the Mind-Body Problem

Richard B. Carter. Descartes' Medical Philosophy: The Organic Solution to the Mind-Body Problem. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. 301pp.


The philosophy of the present age is a philosophy that supports two individual and, at first sight, distinct, freedoms.  One freedom is positive and the other is negative.  The positive freedom is the freedom of each individual to pursue personal fulfillment as he may see that fulfillment.  The other, negative freedom is freedom from limitations imposed by physical sickness and political restraints–from all tyranny or dictatorship.  These two freedoms are obviously connected: We need freedom from restraint in order to have freedom to pursue personal fulfillment.

Today, most people believe that these two freedoms are rooted in nature and , in particular, are guaranteed by what is popularly known as the “first law of nature,” self-preservation.  According to this “law of laws,” each and every definite entity in the universe, alive or not, is characterized by the fact that it acts in and reacts to its environment in a manner that maximizes its chances of survival.