Cartesian Theodicy: Descartes’ Quest for Certitude by Z. Janowski

By Z. Janowski

Just about all interpreters of Cartesian philosophy have hitherto curious about the epistemological point of Descartes' proposal. In his Cartesian Theodicy, Janowski demonstrates that Descartes' epistemological difficulties are only rearticulations of theological questions. for instance, Descartes' try and outline the function of God in man's cognitive fallibility is a reiteration of an previous argument that issues out the incongruity among the life of God and evil, and his pivotal query `whence error?' is proven right here to be a rephrasing of the query `whence evil?' the reply Descartes offers within the Meditations is really a reformulation of the reply present in St. Augustine's De Libero Arbitrio and the Confessions. The effect of St. Augustine on Descartes can even be detected within the doctrine of everlasting truths which, in the context of the 17th-century debates over the query of the character of divine freedom, prompted Descartes to best friend himself with the Augustinian Oratorians opposed to the Jesuits. either in his Cartesian Theodicy in addition to his Index Augustino-Cartesian, Textes et Commentaire Janowski indicates that the total Cartesian metaphysics can - and will - be learn in the context of Augustinian idea.

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Extra resources for Cartesian Theodicy: Descartes’ Quest for Certitude (International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées)

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Yet although the senses occasionally deceive us with respect to objects that are vel)' small or in the distance, there are many other beliefs about which doubt is quite impossible, even though they are derived from the senses for example, that I am here, sitting by the fue, wearing a winter dressinggown, holding this piece of paper in my hands, and so on Again, how could it be denied that these hands or this whole body are mine? Unl~ss perhaps I were to liken myself to a madman. A brilliant piece of reasoning!

Descartes' next step - which is merely a reiteration of Pascal's criticism in a slightly different form - indicates that he was fully aware of the insufficiency of his previous demonstration. And yet firmly rooted in my mind is the long-standing opinion that there is an omnipotent God who made me the kind of creature that I am. 7 And: How do I know that... God has not likewise brought it about that I go wrong whenever I add two and three together or count the sides of a square? Despite its seeming simplicity, the proper interpretation of Descartes' hypothesis of the deus deceptor, as this passage is traditionally referred to, remains a puzzle.

Ferrier contrasts Gibieufs contention with the following passage from the Fourth Meditation: What is more, even if I have no power to avoid error in the fIrst way just mentioned, which requires a clear perception of everything I have to deliberate on, I can avoid error in the second way, which depends merely on my remembering to withhold judgment on any occasion when the truth of the matter is not clear. Admittedly, I am aware of a certain weakness in me, in that I am unable to keep my attention fIxed on one and the same item of knowledge at all times; but by attentive and repeated meditation 1 am nevertheless able to make myselfremember it as often as the need arises, and thus get into the habit of avoiding error.

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