Frans Svensson

A Design for Life: Descartes's Ethical Perfectionism

A Design for Life: Descartes’s Ethical Perfectionism The aim is to complete a research monograph on the moral philosophy of René Descartes (1596-1650). The project will be based on, but also constitute an important development of, several years of previous work on the topic. The project is important since Descartes’s moral philosophy, in contrast to his epistemology and metaphysics, has so far received very limited attention by scholars, both with respect to its central components (e.g. perfection, virtue, the highest good, free will, and happiness), and with respect to how, if at all, the relevant components form a coherent whole. In the monograph, I present an interpretation of Descartes's moral philosophy in its entirety and argue that it offers a distinctive and interesting form of ethical perfectionism. The monograph will fill a gap in the literature on Descartes's philosophy. It should attract attention particularly from scholars specializing in early modern philosophy, but also from researchers in moral philosophy and its history more generally. Various publishers, including Cambridge University Press, have expressed a strong interest in the manuscript. I will spend one month of the project at the University of Turku in Finland, where I will present a draft of the manuscript to internationally renowned experts in early modern philosophy working in the research project The Modern View of Concepts (
Grant administrator
University of Gothenburg
Reference number
SEK 1,140,000.00
RJ Sabbatical