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Descartes : An Analytic and Historical Introduction

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A solid grasp of the main themes and arguments of the seventeenth-century philosopher Rene Descartes is essential for understanding modern thought, and a necessary entree to the work of the Empiricists and Immanuel Kant. It is also crucial to the study of contemporary epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. This new edition of Georges Dicker's commentary on Descartes's masterpiece, Meditations on First Philosophy, features a new chapter on the Fourth Meditation and improved treatments of the famous cogito ergo sum and the notorious problem of the Cartesian Circle, among numerous other improvements and updates. Clear and accessible, it serves as an introduction to Descartes's ideas for undergraduates and as a sophisticated companion to his Meditations for advanced readers. The volume provides a thorough discussion of several basic issues of epistemology and metaphysics elicited from the main themes and arguments of the Meditations. It also delves into the work's histoshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 27.94mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd Revised edition
  • 0195380320
  • 9780195380323

About Georges Dicker

Georges Dicker is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. He is the author of Dewey's Theory of Knowing, Perceptual Knowledge: An Analytical and Historical Study, Descartes: An Analytical and Historical Introduction (First edition), Hume's Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Introduction, Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Analytical Introduction, Berkeley's Idealism: A Critical Examination, and of numerous journal articles.show more

Table of contents

Preface to the Second Edition ; Preface to the First Edition ; Note on the References and Abbreviations ; 1. Meditation I and the Method of Doubt ; 1. Descartes's Goal ; 2. The Cartesian Doubt ; 3. Is the Cartesian Doubt Self-Refuting? ; 3.1 The Deceptiveness of the Senses ; 3.2 The Dream Argument ; 3.3 The Deceiver Argument ; Notes ; 2. Meditation II: the Cogito and the Self51 ; 1. Descartes's "I am thinking, therefore I exist." ; 2. The Certainty of One's Own Thoughts ; 3. A Problem for the Cogito ; 4. The Substance Theory ; 5. A Reconstruction of the Cogito based on the substance theory ; 6. Critical Discussion of the Reconstructed Cogito ; 6.1 The Substance Theory and the Argument from Change ; 6.2 The Corollary ; 6.3 The Assumption That Thoughts Are Properties ; 6.4 The Inference to "I Exist" ; 7. A defense of the unreconstructed cogito ; 8. Does the unreconstructed cogito require an additional premise? ; 9. Descartes's Conception of the Self ; 10. Cartesian Dualism ; Notes ; 3. Meditation III: The Criterion of Truth and the Existence of God ; 1. Descartes's Criterion of Truth ; 2. The Project of Meditation III ; 3. From the Idea of God to God ; 3.1 The Nature of Ideas ; 3.2 Objective Reality and Formal Reality ; 3.3 The Core Argument ; 3.4 The Central Argument of Meditation III: the Subargument, the Core Argument, and the Sequel ; 4. Criticisms of Descartes's Central Argument in Meditation III ; 4.1 The Subargument ; 4.1.1 The precontainment principle ; 4.1.2 Degrees of reality ; 4.1.3 Justifying the causal maxim ; 4.2 The Problem of the Cartesian Circle ; 4.2.1 The restriction of the doubt to past clear and distinct perceptions defense ; 4.2.2 The general rule defense ; 4.2.3 The radical doubt of reason and the creation of the eternal truths ; 4.2.4 The validation of reason ; 4.3 A Final Criticism of the Core Argument ; Notes ; 4. Meditation IV: Error, Freedom, and Evil ; 1. The issues of the Fourth Meditation ; 2. Error and the will ; 3. Two possible objections ; 3.1 Assenting and deciding to believe ; 3.2 Irresistibility and freedom ; 4. The coherence of Cartesian Freedom ; 5. Descartes's troubling letter to Mesland ; 6. Error and evil ; 6.1 The problem of evil ; 6.2 Cartesian theodicy ; 6.3 Some critical Reflections ; Notes ; 5. Meditation V: The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God ; 1. Descartes's Ontological Argument ; 2. Critique of the Ontological Argument ; 2.1 Gaunilo's Objection ; 2.2 Kant's Objection ; 2.3 Further Consideration of Kant's Objection ; 2.4 Caterus's Objection ; 3. Some Implications for Descartes's System ; Notes ; 6: Meditation VI: Dualism and the Material World ; 1. The scope of Meditation VI ; 2. Descartes's Proof of "The Real Distinction" between Mind and Body ; 3. Descartes's Proof of the Material World ; 4. Descartes on the Nature of the Material World ; 4.1 Primary and Secondary Qualities ; 4.2 Matter, Space, and Solidity ; 4.3 Bodies as Substances versus Bodies as Modes of Substance ; 5. Dualism and the Problem of Interaction ; 6. An Assessment of Cartesian Dualism ; Notes ; Bibliographyshow more

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