Descartes on Freedom, Truth, and Goodness

Noûs 43 (4):633-655 (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Freedom is the least discussed thesis of Descartes' works. Two major issues are: (i) the Fourth Meditation is seen as an unfounded theodicy, an interlude, an interruption to the analytic order; (ii)some passages in Descartes' other works are seen as inconsistent with the Fourth Meditation. First, I argue that Descartes' treatment is philosophical, that freedom underlies his entire philosophical project, defending the indispensability of the Fourth to his metaphysics.I demonstrate that Descartes' conception of freedom differs from the mainstream conceptions, in particular it admits of degrees of higher or lower quality or worth. The latter is connected with indifference, error and sin. The former with spontaneity, truth and goodness. I argue that autonomy and spontaneity are a sine qua non of freedom of highest grade. Secondly, I offer a solution to two problematic passages: Principles I 37, and the notorious letter to Mesland, drawing on Descartes' conception of freedom as the greatest good, on the internal relation between reason and freedom, and demonstrating that there is no inconsistency. Descartes' treatment and indispensability of freedom gives his conception a certain sublimity, and his conception of man a certain serenity: an autonomous rational human being irreducibly and substantially real

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,642

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Will in Descartes' Thought.Marie Y. Jayasekera - 2010 - Dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Cartesian Theodicy: Descartes Quest for Certitude.Z. Janowski - 2000 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 3:127-128.
Descartes on Human Freedom.Marie Jayasekera - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):527-539.
Descartes on Degrees of Freedom.C. P. Ragland - 2013 - Essays in Philosophy 14 (2):239-268.
Descartes on Selfhood, Conscientia, the First Person and Beyond.Andrea Christofidou - 2023 - In Andrea Strazzoni & Marco Sgarbi (eds.), Reading Descartes. Consciousness, Body, and Reasoning. Florence: Firenze University Press. pp. 9-40.
The Role of Will in Descartes’ Account of Judgment.Lilli Alanen - 2012 - In Karen Detlefsen (ed.), Descartes' Meditations: A Critical Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 176-199.
The Will to Reason: Theodicy and Freedom in Descartes.C. P. Ragland - 2016 - New York, New York: Oxford University Press USA.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-11-26

Downloads
61 (#91,027)

6 months
9 (#1,260,759)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Andrea Christofidou
University of London

Citations of this work

Human Rationality: Descartes and Aristotle.Andrea Christofidou - 2021 - Philosophical Investigations 44 (3):217-236.
Descartes on Selfhood, Conscientia, the First Person and Beyond.Andrea Christofidou - 2023 - In Andrea Strazzoni & Marco Sgarbi (eds.), Reading Descartes. Consciousness, Body, and Reasoning. Florence: Firenze University Press. pp. 9-40.
Descartes on Human Freedom.Marie Jayasekera - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):527-539.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references