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Between Two Worlds: A Reading of Descartes's Meditations by John Carriero

By John Carriero

Among Worlds is an authoritative remark on--and robust reinterpretation of--the founding paintings of contemporary philosophy, Descartes's Meditations. Philosophers have tended to learn Descartes's seminal paintings in an occasional approach, studying its therapy of person subject matters whereas ignoring different components of the textual content. by contrast, John Carriero presents a sustained, systematic examining of the full textual content, giving a close account of the positions opposed to which Descartes used to be reacting, and revealing anew the harmony, which means, and originality of the Meditations. Carriero unearths within the Meditations a virtually non-stop argument opposed to Thomistic Aristotelian methods of considering cognition, and exhibits extra essentially than ever sooner than how Descartes bridged the outdated international of scholasticism and the recent certainly one of mechanistic naturalism. instead of casting Descartes's venture essentially when it comes to skepticism, wisdom, and simple task, Carriero specializes in basic disagreements among Descartes and the scholastics over the character of figuring out, the relation among the senses and the mind, the character of the man or woman, and the way and to what volume God is cognized via people. in contrast heritage, Carriero exhibits, Descartes built his personal conceptions of brain, physique, and the relation among them, making a coherent, philosophically wealthy venture within the Meditations and atmosphere the schedule for a century of rationalist metaphysics.

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That the mind can exist without the body), but offers a different argument for it (roughly, that the mind does not need corporeal phantasms in order to function successfully cognitively, in order to make true judgments about reality). , that beings without bodies can have sensory ideas). Rather, when Descartes uses consciousness (or indubitability) as a criterion to show that sensation, or some aspect of it, belongs to the mind, I think his point is that I can see beyond doubt that there is something going on in me that is at least in the vicinity of sensation—call this something that is going on, as Descartes himself sometimes does, “as it were sensing”; exactly what it is awaits a fuller account.

It is not obvious that this presents a problem for Descartes’s way of proceeding, because it is not obvious that the motivation for undertaking the Meditations needs to be fully available to the meditator, especially at the beginning. Perhaps it is enough that her curiosity is piqued. 2 Externally, this comes out in Descartes’s indications in his other writings that he does not think he can make progress with a certain sort of stubborn reader (see 7:159). Internally, it comes out in some of the language he uses surrounding skeptical doubt, in particular in his frequent use of first-person resolutions to quasi-imperative effect, as in these examples from the last three paragraphs of the First Meditation: So in the future I must withhold my assent from these former beliefs just as carefully as I would from obvious false things, if I want to discover any certainty.

Certainly his basic cognitive framework, where ideas are realities existing objectively, and a sensory idea is confused and obscure, does not encourage the view that ideas, by their nature, must be epistemically transparent in such a way that an idea cannot contain INTRODUCTION 21 more than meets (or can meet) the eye, so to speak. ) Further, one does not find in his writings the sort of developed theory of these surfaces and their relation to the objects to which they belong that one would hope for if he were advancing such a position.

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