[Review of the book Essays on Descartes, by Poffman]

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  • Introduction: Paul Hoffman's collection Essays on Descartes comes in a plain, not-quite-brown wrapper that camouflages the trailblazing work within. Hoffman is among the very first of recent Anglophone commentators to examine Descartes's anthropology (by which I mean his account of the full, embodied human being, not his fieldwork among exotic peoples). This book gathers together fourteen essays, all but two of which have been published previously, including such important works as \"The Unity of Descartes's Man\" and an abridged version of \"Three Dualist Theories of the Passions\". The essays are mostly unrevised, but the volume adds a helpful introduction and some new notes, many of which serve to cross-index views Hoffman has developed and refined over the last quarter-century. The essays cover a wide array of topics, including metaphysics, cognitive and moral psychology, and causation. Of course, not everything can be considered: the reader will find scant mention of Descartes's skepticism here, little on textbook concerns of epistemology or science, and nothing on method or mathematics, with the result that some works of Descartes come in for little discussion. Eschewing these time-worn subjects allows Hoffman to address with great thoroughness issues equally close to Descartes's heart but much less familiar to general audiences today.

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    © 2009 Schmitter, A.M. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • Schmitter, A.M. (2009). [Review of the book Essays on Descartes, by P. Hoffman]. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, n.p.
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