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Descartes and the Puzzle of Sensory Representation$
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Raffaella De Rosa

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570379.001.0001

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A Descriptivist‐Causal Account and the Solution of the Puzzle of Sensory Representation

A Descriptivist‐Causal Account and the Solution of the Puzzle of Sensory Representation

Chapter:
(p.117) 5 A Descriptivist‐Causal Account and the Solution of the Puzzle of Sensory Representation
Source:
Descartes and the Puzzle of Sensory Representation
Author(s):

Raffaella De Rosa (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570379.003.0006

This chapter defends a qualified internalist account of the representationality of Cartesian sensations that differs from both externalist readings and from purely internalist accounts (also discussed in this chapter). Although the chapter argues that sensations represent what they do in virtue of some internal feature, it also argues that a causal relation to bodily states plays a role in the formation of sensory ideas. This account is called “descriptivist‐causal” and it has the advantage, over purely internalist accounts, of acknowledging the texts where Descartes claims that ideas of sense are caused by bodies and of explaining what distinguishes sensory representation from purely intellectual representation. It also provides a straightforward answer to the question of how to explain Descartes' claim that sensory ideas are misrepresentations of their objects within his descriptivist theory of ideas. Sensory ideas mis‐present their objects because they contain confused descriptions of the right object of thought.

Keywords:   Cartesian sensations, innate ideas, sensory misrepresentation, internalist accounts, descriptivist‐causal account

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