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The Mind-Body StagePassion and Interaction in the Cartesian Theater$
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R. Darren Gobert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804786386

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804786386.001.0001

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Prologue: Another Cartesian Theater

Prologue: Another Cartesian Theater

(p.1) Prologue: Another Cartesian Theater
The Mind-Body Stage

R. Darren Gobert

Stanford University Press

The chapter suggests that the historical antipathy between philosophy and theater as disciplines has obscured the theater's unexamined importance to Cartesian philosophy and Descartes's unexamined impact on theater history: on playwriting and dramatic theory, on acting theory, on theater architecture. Philosophers since at least Plato have suspected the alleged falseness of theater, preferring an immaterial realm; meanwhile, theater historians have tended to subordinate philosophical questions to material research concerns. Thus, the two disciplines have mimicked the split between mind and body putatively authored by Descartes. By helping us to better understand Descartes's doctrine of mind-body union, the chapter helps too to reconcile the methodological schism between the two disciplines. Specifically, it promotes an epistemology of performance, reliant on the repertory of lived action as a supplement to the historical archive of material artifacts.

Keywords:   Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia, mind-body union, philosophy of theater, dualism, performance, subjectivity, intersubjectivity

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