The paper argues that, for Descartes, an idea of x is distinct only if that idea is subsumed under an eternal truth that specifies the conditions sufficient for x to exist, where x is taken to be an entity of a particular kind. It is argued that clear and distinct ideas are materially true, i.e., pertain to possible existence. It is shown that clarity and distinctness pertain primarily to perceptions as acts, and that it is possible to have alternative distinct ideas of a single thing. The discussion relates clarity and distinctness to the Cartesian method, to the cogito, and to ideas of God and the self.
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