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Products for grant FB-50174-04

The Metaphysician's Dilemma: Descartes on Navigating the Commitments of the Confused
David Cunning, Northern Illinois University

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Argument and Persuasion in Descartes' Meditations (Book)
Title: Argument and Persuasion in Descartes' Meditations
Author: David Cunning
Abstract: From beginning to end the reasoning of the Meditations is the first-person reasoning of a thinker who starts from a confused non-Cartesian paradigm and moves slowly and awkwardly toward a grasp of just a few of the central theses of Descartes' system. The meditator of the Meditations is not a full-blown Cartesian at the start or middle or even the end of inquiry, and accordingly the Meditations is riddled with confusions throughout. Descartes is trying to capture the kind of reasoning that a non-Cartesian would have to engage in to make the relevant epistemic progress, and the Meditations rhetorically models that reasoning. Descartes is reflecting on what happens in philosophical inquiry: we are unclear about something, we roam about using our existing concepts and intuitions, we abandon or revise some of these, and then eventually we come to see a result as clear that we did not see as clear before. Descartes is a teacher, and the reader a student. A significant number of the interpretive problems that arise in the Descartes literature dissolve when we make a distinction between the Cartesian and non-Cartesian elements of the Meditations, and a better understanding of surrounding texts is achieved as well.
Year: 2010
Primary URL:
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 0195399609