Argument and Persuasion in Descartes Meditations

Hardcover | July 21, 2010

byDavid Cunning

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Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy has proven to be not only one of the canonical texts of Western philosophy, but also the site of a great deal of interpretive activity in scholarship on the history of early modern philosophy over the last two decades. David Cunning's monographproposes a new interpretation, which is that from beginning to end the reasoning of the Meditations is the first-person reasoning of a thinker who starts from a confused non-Cartesian paradigm and moves slowly and awkwardly toward a grasp of just a few of the central theses of Descartes' system.The meditator of the Meditations is not a full-blown Cartesian at the start or middle or even the end of inquiry, and accordingly the Meditations is riddled with confusions throughout. Cunning argues that Descartes is trying to capture the kind of reasoning that a non-Cartesian would have toengage in to make the relevant epistemic progress, and that the Meditations rhetorically models that reasoning. He proposes that Descartes is reflecting on what happens in philosophical inquiry: we are unclear about something, we roam about using our existing concepts and intuitions, we abandon orrevise some of these, and then eventually we come to see a result as clear that we did not see as clear before. Thus Cunning's fundamental insight is that Descartes is a teacher, and the reader a student. With that reading in mind, a significant number of the interpretive problems that arise inthe Descartes literature dissolve when we make a distinction between the Cartesian and non-Cartesian elements of the Meditations, and a better understanding of surrounding texts is achieved as well. This important volume will be of great interest to scholars of early modern philosophy.

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Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy has proven to be not only one of the canonical texts of Western philosophy, but also the site of a great deal of interpretive activity in scholarship on the history of early modern philosophy over the last two decades. David Cunning's monographproposes a new interpretation, which is that fro...

David Cunning is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iowa.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:July 21, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195399609

ISBN - 13:9780195399608

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Problem of the First-Person Point-of-View2. Epistemic Position and the First Meditation3. Imagining Mind and Body4. The Idea of a Supreme Being5. Truth and Imprecision in the Fourth Meditation6. Another Proof of the Existence of God7. Embodiment and Union8. The Post-Meditations Meditator9. Worries About Descartes' Method and its Implementation10. Philosophical Inquiry and the Problem of Current Commitments