Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Puzzling Sentence

A somewhat puzzling sentence in Diggins's recent review of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age:

Descartes could scarcely break free from the Calvinist conviction that the will, rather than exercising sovereign control over the body, remained in bondage to the sins of the flesh.

Puzzling, because Descartes didn't need to break from any Calvinist convictions; he was Catholic, and seems to have had no interest in Calvinism. And the sovereignty of will had a longstanding Augustinian pedigree. There are a few other slightly puzzling claims in the review, although for the most part I think they arise because I read Taylor somewhat differently than Diggins seems to read him. But that one stood out.