Eternal Beatitude and the Devil in Arnold Geulincx’s Ethics

Arnold_GeulincxOne of the more striking aspects of the work of the little-known early modern philosopher Arnold Geulincx (1624-1669) is his incorporation of a conception of ‘beatitude’ into an otherwise strongly rationalistic variant of Cartesianism.

The beatitude Geulincx describes takes the form of a very particular kind of intellectual joy and eternal happiness, beyond (though not cancelling out) our earthly passions and the pleasures of this life.

Accordingly, this paper will explore the metaphysical and physical underpinnings of Geulincx’s ethics from the perspective of the concepts of beatitude and eternity, drawing a contrast with Geulincx’s naturalising recasting of the ‘devil’ as the name for a (harmful and immoral) psychological tendency – namely the ‘everlasting’ or ‘sempiternal’ tendency to continue as one had begun, even absent associated pleasures.

The paper will then address the question of the role individuals have in bringing about their own salvation, particularly in terms of Geulincx’s account of freedom and of the status of finite minds as modes of eternal Mind. We will conclude with some further thoughts on practical aspects of Geulincx’s ethics.

Autor: Michael Jaworzyn.

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