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The Will to ReasonTheodicy and Freedom in Descartes$
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C.P. Ragland

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190264451

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190264451.001.0001

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Descartes’ Deepest Worry

Descartes’ Deepest Worry

Chapter:
(p.10) Chapter 1 Descartes’ Deepest Worry
Source:
The Will to Reason
Author(s):

C. P. Ragland

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190264451.003.0002

This chapter examines the nature of Descartes’ First Meditation skeptical doubts and the related problem of the Cartesian Circle. The chapter argues that Descartes’ reasoning is not viciously circular, because he begins with an initial trust in his faculty of Reason and so takes himself to have knowledge (cognitio) of what he currently clearly and distinctly (C&D) perceives. He seeks to prove God’s existence in order to remove doubts about things that no longer C&D perceives, thus achieving perfect knowledge (scientia). Descartes does not merely beg the question against the skeptic, however, because he is open to the possibility that a perfect use of Reason may produce inconsistent beliefs, in which case his initial trust in Reason would be undermined.

Keywords:   Descartes, skepticism, Cartesian Circle, Reason, scientia

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