The Question of Substance in Descartes from the Existential and Formally-Ontological Perspective

Karol Tarnowski

The article is an attempt to analysis the ontological aspects of Descartes’ philosophy in the light of the existential and formal ontology of Roman Ingarden. Descartes resolves the philosophical problem of what is real by introducing the notion of substance. Th e substance is the keystone of Descartes’ philosophy functioning at diff erent levels of his thought and being an attempt to connect the existence of the real and the ideal. Th e problem of substance includes existential issues, where the substance is treated as category, and formal-ontological ones, where the substance acts as a categorical quasi-nature, used to distinguish the diff erent fi elds of reality. Substance as a category is characterized by (a) gradual, ontical self-suffi  ciency; (b) independence, which is associated with a property of exclusion, (c) ontical durability, and fi nally is treated as (d) existing thing (res existens). Secondly, the notion of the substance as being the subject of properties (hypokeimenon) leads to distinguish it as a quasi-constitutive nature, which is then considered in each of three types of substances: God, res cogitans and res extensa.


Keywords: substance · Descartes · Ingarden · formal ontology · existential ontology

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