By John G. Cottingham
To confront the philosophical approach of Rene Descartes is to consider a magnificently laid out map of human cognitive endeavour. In following Descartes arguments, the reader is drawn into essentially the most basic and tough matters in all of philosophy. during this dictionary, John Cottingham provides an alphabetied consultant to this such a lot stimulating and widely-studied of philosophers. He examines the most important options and concepts in Cartesian suggestion and locations them within the context either one of the seventeenth-century highbrow weather and of next interpretation. The entries diversity over a large choice of parts together with cosmology, physics, theology, psychology and ethics. The booklet is designed to attract the newcomer to Descartes, no matter if pupil or basic reader, whereas additionally supplying targeted severe remark and targeted textual references for the extra complex reader. additionally integrated are a basic creation describing Descartes' lifestyles and works, and bibliographic advisor to the Cartesian texts and the mass of interpretative literature on Descartes.
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Additional info for A Descartes Dictionary
Principles of Philosophy, Part I , art. 5 0 and Part I I , art. 3 ) . 'common ' sense Aristotle, in the De Anima, argues that, in addition to the five senses, there is an organ of 'common' sense (Kotvfj a'ta8rJau;) where the data from the five specialized senses are integrated. ( cf. De Anima, Book I I I , c h . 1 , 425a 1 4) . The notion o f such a common sensorium was standard doctrine among the scholastics. One might have expected Descartes to have rej ected this notion, both in the light of his resolute hostility to received scholastic doctrine, and also because of his conception of the mind as an incorporeal substance; in fact, however, he not only accepted it, but incorpo rated it into his own theory of mind-body interaction.
I am thinking, therefore I exist. ' The celebrated phrase, perhaps the most famous in the whole history of philosophy, occurs first in its French form - je pense done je suis - in Part IV of the Discourse ( 1 637) : 'I noticed, in the course of trying to think that everything was false, that it was necessary that I, who was thinking this, was something. And observing that this truth, I am thinking, therefore I exist, was so firm and sure that all the most extravagant suppositions of the sceptics were incapable of shaking it, I decided that I could accept it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy I was seeking' (AT VI 32: CSM I 1 27 ) .
This is the kind of certainty which Descartes aims for in the metaphysical foundations of his philosophy - the kind of certainty that will survive even the extreme or 'hyperbolical' doubts raised at the start of the Meditations (see First Medita tion, AT VII 22 : CSM I I 1 5, and Third Meditation, AT VII 36: CSM I I 25) . It is sometimes suggested that Descartes claimed that all science ought to achieve this kind of certainty; such an impression is no doubt fostered by the passages where Descartes illustrates his conception of scientific know ledge by referring to the watertight logical demonstrations of the mathemati- 30 CIRCLE, CARTESIAN cians (cf.
A Descartes Dictionary by John G. Cottingham