Mamełka Tomasz
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48(2012)3 - Papers

Tomasz Mamełka

The role of feelings in man's personal life according to St. Thomas Aquinas and Descartes. A comparative analysis

  • language: Polish


The foundation upon which St. Thomas Aquinas and Descartes based their theories of feelings is the concept of the human being. An analysis of source materials of both authors reveals that they differ in their views on what the human being actually is. While Aquinas supports the notion that the body and soul are one in the human being, Descartes first questions and then denies this, before ultimately putting forward the notion of dualism – that the body and soul are two separate substances. Both philosophers, in the scope of their concept of man, acknowledge feelings, providing them with a definition and supplying a criterion for the division and diversity of these acts. According to Aquinas, feelings are only one part of human nature (one principle of action). For Descartes, however, passions are not part of human nature but only part of man’s physical realm. A detailed analysis of basic, primeval and simple feelings can expose their ontological role in the human being: 1 feelings – according to St. Thomas Aquinas – realize what they are subject to, the whole man (a ‘compositum’ of body and soul), and they do this in the way of the efficient cause; 2 feelings – in the belief of Descartes – do not realize man, who is just ‘me-soul’, but rather the unity of human existence. In a way of the efficient cause, they make a complete entity out of two, separate, complete substances (of “res extensa” and “res cogitans”).