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By Bernadette Höfer

Bernadette Hofer's cutting edge and bold monograph argues that the epistemology of the Cartesian mind/body dualism, and its insistence at the primacy of analytic idea over physically functionality, has strangely little buy in texts by means of popular classical writers. during this research Hofer explores how Surin, Moliere, Lafayette, and Racine symbolize interconnections of physique and brain that impression behaviour, either voluntary and involuntary, and that therefore disprove the classical suggestion of the brain as distinctive from and more suitable to the physique. The author's interdisciplinary viewpoint makes use of early smooth scientific and philosophical treatises, in addition to modern scientific compilations within the disciplines of psychosomatic drugs, neurobiology, and psychoanalysis, to illustrate that those seventeenth-century French writers confirmed a view of human lifestyles that totally anticipates present notion relating to psychosomatic disorder.

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He also observes that “the power of the mind by which it imagines and remembers things also depends upon this – that it involves the actual existence of the body” (p. 138) and that “the mind imagines those things which increase or assist our body’s power of action” (pp. 138–9). The imagination affirms the presence of our body. It is a way of thinking, the first kind of cognition, preceding reason and intuitive understanding. Spinoza therefore posits an imagination that is necessary for cognition and that adequately represents reality.

266. 30 Psychosomatic Disorders in Seventeenth-Century French Literature between the patient and the consoler, he raises issues such as the sorrow and despair produced by the melancholic humor, the sufferer’s physical prostration, the various therapeutic remedies (such as music and song), and the imagination as the root or symptom of melancholy. Binet writes as an optimistic rationalist, continually saying that melancholy is an ill produced by the imagination, an ill to which we can put an end by having contempt for it, laughing at it, dissipating our fears, and seeking God.

His concept of generosity plays an important role in his system in that the generous soul is someone whose will asserts its control over the body at every moment, someone who does not give in to violent passions, a self-mastery that saves him- or herself from distress. ”26 But even those “who have the weakest souls could acquire a very absolute control over all their passions if enough industry were used in training and guiding them” (art. 27 Hence even afflictions, illness, or violent passions can be suppressed or transcended since man has the power to act on them, and the therapy Descartes recommended to the princess speaks to his belief that the body can be cured by the soul.

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