Epistemic Position and the First Meditation

David Cunning

in Argument and Persuasion in Descartes’ Meditations

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780195399608
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866502 | DOI:
Epistemic Position and the First Meditation

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This chapter treats a number of interpretive issues including the ontological status of the simple natures that survive the painter analogy, the transparent truths and whether or not they are clearly and distinctly perceived, and the status of the possibility that God does not exist or that He (or perhaps an evil demon) is a deceiver. The chapter considers the first two interpretive issues and argues that they are easily resolved if we take seriously that the Meditations is written for a variety of minds.. With respect to the issue of skepticism and hyperbolic doubt, the chapter argues that different meditators take seriously different possibilities about how they might be deceived, but that they posit the existence of these possibilities hastily and without evaluation. They have not yet considered the much better arguments that show that God exists and is the author of all actualities and possibilities, and they have not yet determined which possibilities God has actually created. The chapter argues that the reasoning of the dream argument is similarly unreflective and confused. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the First Meditation representation of freedom and a discussion of the dubitability of math and geometry.

Keywords: dream argument; painter analogy; simple natures; transparent truths; hyperbolic doubt; evil demon; freedom; geometry; math; skepticism

Chapter.  13120 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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