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Descartes' Deontological Turn: Reason, Will, and Virtue in by Noa Naaman-Zauderer

By Noa Naaman-Zauderer

This booklet bargains a brand new approach of forthcoming where of the desire in Descartes' mature epistemology and ethics. Departing from the generally authorized view, Noa Naaman-Zauderer means that Descartes regards the need, instead of the mind, because the most vital mark of human rationality, either highbrow and useful. via an in depth studying of Cartesian texts from the Meditations onward, she brings to mild a deontological and non-consequentialist size of Descartes' later considering, which credit the correct use of unfastened will with a constitutive, evaluative function. She indicates that the best use of unfastened will, to which Descartes assigns compulsory strength, constitutes for him an lead to its personal correct instead of in basic terms a way for achieving the other finish, even though invaluable. Her very important research has major implications for the solidarity of Descartes' considering, and for the problem of accountability, inviting students to re-evaluate Descartes' philosophical legacy.

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Extra resources for Descartes' Deontological Turn: Reason, Will, and Virtue in the Later Writings

Sample text

Kenny locates a pitfall in Descartes’ argument. He thinks it may imply that thinking about the sun or having an idea of the sun would amount to “thinking about the idea of the sun” (1968: 116). 33 But what exactly is it for the sun to exist objectively “in” the intellect and thus to have a mode of being different from that it has in the sky? The literature offers two major kinds of responses to this question, in accordance with two different readings of Descartes’ notion of representation. 34 In this conception, Cartesian perceptions or mental acts are intentional by being directed to ideas (taken objectively) as their immediate objects.

Yet in the same passage from the Second Replies, Descartes proceeds to define “idea” as “the form [forma] of any given thought, immediate perception of which makes me aware of the thought” (AT vii 160: CSM ii 113; my emphasis). The notion of ideas as “forms” is indeed ambiguous: it may refer to the formal reality of ideas (to “idea” in the material sense as an operation of the mind), or it may refer to the formal sense of “idea,” which coincides with its objective sense, as representing this or that thing to the mind.

How can we know, in other words, which of our ideas has objective reality? For Descartes, an idea’s degree of objective reality has a bearing on the possibility to perceive clearly and distinctly the object it exhibits to the mind. Only ideas that possess some degree of objective reality can Brown contends that “on the representationalist reading, when there is a mismatch between the intentional and real object, an idea may be mistaken and lead to mistaken judgment when we infer from the properties of the intentional object what properties are possessed by the real object” (2006: 90).

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