The self may be imagined as a "pure, transparent, rarefied substance like a wind."

— Gassendi, Pierre (1592-1655)

Place of Publication
Michel de Soly
The self may be imagined as a "pure, transparent, rarefied substance like a wind."
Metaphor in Context
You next take what you call the imagination and proceed to describe what it is. You say that 'imagining is simply the contemplation of the shape or image of a corporeal thing', and you say this so that you can go on to infer that it is some form of thought other than imagination that enables you to know your nature. But since you are allowed to define imagination as you like, then if you are corporeal - and you have not yet proved the contrary - why, may I ask, cannot your contemplation of yourself involve some corporeal form or image? And when you do contemplate yourself in this way, I ask you whether you find that anything comes to mind apart from some pure, transparent, rarefied substance like a wind, which pervades the whole body or at least the brain or some other part, and which animates you and performs all your functions. 'I realize', you say, 'that none of the things that the imagination enables me to grasp is at all relevant to this knowledge of myself which I possess.' But you do not say how you recognize this. And since you had decided a little earlier that you did not yet know whether these things belonged to you, how, may I ask, do you now arrive at the conclusion just quoted?
(Fifth Set of Objections, p. 185)
Past Masters
Descartes, René. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothof, and Dugald Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.