Theories of Emotion in Etienne Chauvin’s Lexicon Philosophicum

Giuliano GASPARRI*

Abstract. This paper touches on various philosophical theories of emotion through the analysis of a few entries in the Lexicon philosophicum (1692, 17132) by Etienne
Chauvin: the articles “Affectus” and “Passio” (‘emotion’) and “Admiratio” (‘wonder’).
Chauvin’s Lexicon is usually considered to be the first ‘modern’ philosophical dictionary. By investigating its definitions and sources – the scholastic sources, such as the commentaries on Aristotle, as well as the modern ones, such as Bacon, Descartes and the Cartesian Pierre Cally – I will provide some instances of the complexity of this work.
In many entries of the Lexicon, he lists different opinions on the same subject without taking up a position of his own. Here and there, however, he distances himself not only from the scholastic tradition, but also from Descartes’ natural philosophy and metaphysics. On the whole, Chauvin seems to be distrustful of the pretense of constructing all-embracing systems of philosophy, and he is more interested in underlining the continuity between modern, scholastic and ancient philosophy, rather than emphasizing the novelty of Descartes’ thought.
Keywords: Emotions, wonder, philosophical dictionaries, 17th century, Cartesianism, Etienne Chauvin

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