René Descartes was born in France in the sixteenth century in the year 1596 and he lived a full life until his death in the seventeenth century in the year 1650. Rene Descartes is one of ancient recommendable philosophers who immensely contributed in the critical thinking of the society members especially on the issue of passion, desires and soul. Apart from being a philosopher, René Descartes was a reputable writer and he spent a substantial amount of his time in the republic of Dutch. Rene Descartes work is of great importance even to the modern social environments. Consequently, René Descartes is considered to be the father or the founder of the current modern philosophies (Paton, 1971).
Basing on René Descartes philosophies on passion, a person is abstracted from true facts and information due to a number of fixed ideas which a person gathers since the time he or she comes into this world. He acknowledges that such circumstances occur because a person lacks the power to engage in any speech. Consequently, a person makes some kind of judgments and sensible reasoning even before their brains acquire a full development capacity.
Apart from this capacity of making decision, Descartes’ metaphysics described the characteristic which are dominant between body and mind. He considered these apparent and discrete thoughts of psychological and physiological functioning as wholly unique and separate. The creator created them as separate entities and separate from each other. Consequently, these elements are separate factors or elements. The brainpower is a core whose fundamental nature is deliberation alone, thus it occurs or exists completely outside geometric class with even inclusion of place. Body is a element whose spirit or passion is specifically conservatory, a geometric element which lacks even the sensory characteristics such as color or even taste. Consequently, it occurs as an element which is controlled by the issue of desires and passions (Paton, 1971).
According to this philosopher, body and passion are key elements which exist together and are sometimes controlled by culture and traditions. Tradition and culture are two major elements describing a particular group of people within a given time period in history. From reading different texts, different cultural, social and traditional practices will come out about a given group. Different cultural groups have different values and tradition which is passed from one generation to the next without loss of meaning. Here the philosopher analyzed the ways in which culture and tradition history is linked to body, desires and passions (Simon, 2001).
René Descartes acknowledges that, a person believe that understanding a given population’s culture, history and tradition can help in understanding these issue of bodily desires and passions. This provides the involved person with an afore-thought of the people’s lives hence making the comprehension of the issue of passion and desires at a higher contributory level. As well, a complete understanding of the text helps improve an understanding of the people passion, tradition and culture. Basically, there are a number of major characteristic and unique elements which defines the body, desires and passions manifested by a person. Every person has the capacity to control his or her own passions and desires. This is supported by this philosopher where he acknowledges that the body and soul are two distinct elements which are different from each other. Nevertheless, these two unique elements are joined or integrated together by the psychological capacity or the functions of the brain (Watson, 2001).
Every element of the body and soul can be evaluated by analyzing and exercise of brain control. Generally, a given individual or people will always be defined by his or her capacity to control his or her passions. The ability of controlling these core elements clearly dictates the character of a person. From these philosophies of René Descartes, there are several outstanding psychological as well as physiological elements or issues and traditions that define a person’s ability to control his or her desires and passion. In addition, it pays or is of great importance for a person to be able to control these elements since they greatly reflects the moral and social conduct manifested by that person. Apart from this, ethics and other social behaviors are manifested by a person’s ability to control his or her desires. According to his philosophy and theory of virtue ethics, René Descartes sees virtue ethics as the major concept towards understanding how human beings can distinguish between what is wrong and what is right.
René Descartes supports that passion should be seen as a systematic theory or study trying to explain how human beings can live to their fullest potential. René Descartes believes strongly that virtue ethics and control of passions is the best approach to address most of the problems faced in the society. His studies of virtue and ethics were originally concerned with looking closely at the political and legal policies applied in the society. For instance, he noted that some law-making processes were done without considering some important issues in the society. Therefore, Descartes argues question was how the community needs could be addressed and with a subsequent creation of the best life possible for all. This resulted in the original René Descartes answer on how human beings can achieve equality and live happily (Moore, 2010).
René Descartes believes that only philosophers are the happiest people in the world. Philosophers live a life of total contemplation while enjoying most of the pleasures such as success and wealth, while at the same time enjoying his engagement in moral virtue. Therefore, the good life for man is living in harmony with each other through virtue. Virtue is thus a ‘rational’ activity in accordance with a specific ‘rational principle’. An understanding of virtue and living a virtuous life will result in the greatest happiness.
As René Descartes argues, virtue and control of passions should be a very important human aspect. He argues that someone who has been brought up in the best way possible will possess good characters and habits. The person will also be courageous and at the same time show intellectual virtue and friendship. Therefore, proper knowledge of virtue ethics and passion control especially on their link to body and soul make people differentiates the right thing from the bad (Malook, 1999).
When the main goal in life is to achieve the greatest happiness, everyone will be keen to pursue this kind of virtue. Therefore, virtue ethics is a very important concept in ensuring that human beings understand what is wrong and what is right. Everyone will be obliged to do what results in happiness hence people will be in a position of distinguishing between the right and the wrong. For René Descartes, passion is a purely rational activity and follows a certain rational principle leading to doing the right only. Therefore we can say that passion is the key concept towards differentiating the wrong from the right as proposed by René Descartes (Statman, 1997).
The most important thing is that virtue and passion are societal conception not limited to individual members of the society. This is the reason why most of René Descartes’ virtues deal much with people’s roles in their societies. Happiness also has its social dimensions. As we see in his work, happiness is living a good life and ensuring that everyone else is living well. This is something readily achieved by virtuous people. Happiness is as well taught to human beings by their own societies. Virtue is therefore relevant towards the development of a happy society.
Malook, S. (1999) ‘Philosophy of Life.’ Al-Hikmat, 28(2), 57-70.
Statman, D. (1997). Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Simon, R. (2001). Trash Culture: Popular culture and the great tradition. New York: Penguin Books.
Moore, T. (2010). Philosophy of Education: an introduction. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Watson, A. (2001). Society and Legal Change. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Paton, J.H. (1971). The Categorical Imperative: a study of Kant’s moral philosophy. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.