Descartes: Philosophical Essays and Correspondence
Here it is that Descartes begins his startling point, “And thus, having reflected well, and carefully examined all things, we have finally to conclude that this declaration, Ego sum, ego existo, is necessarily true every time I propound of mentally apprehend it.” In this statement he affirms his existence and later concludes that he was a res cogitans -- a thinking thing, “that is to say a mind, an understanding or reason-t...
The Philosophical Writings of Descartes: The Correspondence, ed
In reply to Arnauld, Descartes claims that he avoided this problemby distinguishing between present clear and distinct perceptions andthose that are merely remembered (7:246). He is not here challengingthe reliability of memory (Frankfurt 1962). Rather, hisstrategy is to suggest that the hypothesis of a deceiving God can onlypresent itself when we are not clearly and distinctly perceiving theinfinity and perfection of God, because when we are doing that wecannot help but believe that God is no deceiver. It is as if this veryevident perception is then to be balanced with the uncertain opinionthat God might be a deceiver (7:144). The evident perception wins outand the doubt is removed.
All the same, the mind–body problem persists. In distinguishingthe domain of the mental from that of the physical, Descartes struck achord. Many philosophers accept the conceptual distinction, but remainuncertain of the underlying metaphysics: whether mind is identicalwith brain; or the mental emerges from complex processes in the brain;or constitutes a property that is different from any purely physicalproperty, even while being instantiated by the brain. In this case, aproblem that Descartes made prominent has lived far beyond hisproposed solution.
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Descartes wrote in the Meteorology thathe was working from the following “supposition” orhypothesis: “that the water, earth, air, and all other suchbodies that surround us are composed of many small parts of variousshapes and sizes, which are never so properly disposed nor so exactlyjoined together that there do not remain many intervals around them;and that these intervals are not empty but are filled with thatextremely subtle matter through the mediation of which, I have saidabove, the action of light is communicated” (6:233). Hepresented a corpuscularian basis for his physics, which denied theatoms-and-void theory of ancient atomism and affirmed that all bodiesare composed from one type of matter, which is infinitely divisible(6:239). In the World, he had presented his non-atomisticcorpuscularism, but without denying void space outright and withoutaffirming infinite divisibility (11:12–20).
Stephen Gaukroger, Descartes: Philosophical Essays …
After publication of the Discourse in 1637, Descartesreceived in his correspondence queries and challenges to various of thedoctrines, including his account of the sequence of phenomena duringheart-beat and the circulation of the blood; his avoidance ofsubstantial forms and real qualities; his argument for a distinctionbetween mind and body; and his view that natural philosophicalhypotheses could be “proven” through the effects that they explain(6:76). Descartes' correspondence from the second half of the 1630s repays close study, among other things for his discussions of hypothesis-confirmation in science, his replies to objectionsconcerning his metaphysics, and his explanation that he had left themost radical skeptical arguments out of this work, since it was writtenin French for a wide audience (1:350, 561).
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Boeker The Mind and the World Due: October 18, 2013 Descartes presents three skeptical arguments in his meditations which shows he has reason to doubt all of his sensory beliefs.
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In a letter of 13 November 1639, Descartes wrote to Mersenne that hewas “working on a discourse in which I try to clarify what I havehitherto written” on metaphysics (2:622). This was theMeditations, and presumably he was revising or recasting theLatin treatise from 1629. He announced to Mersenne a plan to put thework before “the twenty or thirty most learned theologians” before itwas published. In the end, he and Mersenne collected seven sets ofobjections to the Meditations, which Descartes publishedwith the work, along with his replies (1641, 1642). Some objections were fromunnamed theologians, passed on by Mersenne; one set came from theDutch priest Johannes Caterus; one set was from the Jesuit philosopher Pierre Bourdin;others were from Mersenne himself, from the philosophers Pierre Gassendiand Thomas Hobbes, and from the Catholic philosopher-theologian Antoine Arnauld.