HomeΦιλοσοφια: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 39 no. 1 (2010)

The Spiritualist Trend in Modern Western Philosophy: From Descartes to Sartre

James M. Lawler

Discipline: Philosophy, Religion



The contemporary debate between religion and science has its roots in seventeenth century debates on the implications of the new sciences. While Hobbes’ materialism rests on the implications of the new physics, Descartes’ spiritualism focuses on the radically new character of scientific thinking itself. Two opposed conceptions of God, externalist and internalist, correspond to these trends. Kant reconciles Descartes focus on free subjectivity with materialist determinism by regarding the latter as a pragmatically useful construction of subjectivity itself. For Descartes, Kant, and Sartre, science itself rests on human cooperation in an endless pursuit of an ideal of divine perfection.