The Silence of Descartes

Philosophy and Theology 8 (3):199-212 (1994)
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Certain passages in the Meditations indicate a silence of Descartes before the mystery of God. These passages underscore the inadequacy of reason to penetrate God’s attributes. Descartes underlines the incomprehensibility of God’s infinity and God’s purposes. He evokes an intuitive knowledge of God which transcends the conceptual. Relevant passages in the correspondence of Descartes indicate Descartes’s repeated concern with the limits of philosophical theology and support a deconstruction of the Medítations which privileges its recurrent theologia negativa. Such an interpretation of the religious theory in public and private Cartesian texts contests the persistent “rationalist” interpretation of Descartes, which reduces the theology of the Meditations to a series of deductive proofs.



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John J. Conley
Loyola University Maryland

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