The Problem of the First-Person Point of View

David Cunning

in Argument and Persuasion in Descartes’ Meditations

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780195399608
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866502 | DOI:
The Problem of the First-Person Point of View

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This chapter lays out the details of Descartes’ views on the habits and inclinations of the prephilosophical mind. There are ways in which minds are similar: they assume that things are real and substantial to the extent that they can be sensed; they tend to picture the entities that they conceive, with the result that in many cases these entities are represented as corporeal and sensible even though they are not; they misconceive of objects in other ways, mostly by incorporating into their ideas predicates that do not belong; they think more often in terms of linguistic symbols than ideas; and they aggressively reject views that conflict with their existing commitments. A pre-philosophical mind does not have transparent incorrigible access to its ideas when it is thinking them confusedly, and many of its ideas are materially false in that they incorporate predicates that do not apply to their objects. Pre-philosophical minds are similar in many ways, but they are also different, especially with respect to the particular commitments and ideas that they bring to inquiry. The Meditations is written for a variety of minds—including theists, atheists, skeptics, Aristotelians, mechanists, and also individuals who do not yet have a fully articulated view of reality. The chapter also argues that Descartes is an intuitionist in that he thinks that we have a capacity for recognizing truth. He employs the analytic method so that his different readers can work to overcome the effects of their embodiment and see their pre-Meditations commitments for the confusions that they are. The chapter also discusses Descartes’ rationalism.

Keywords: analytic method; confusion; habit; linguistic symbol; materially false ideas; intuitionist; embodiment; transparent; rationalism; variety of minds

Chapter.  15758 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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