Painted Mules and the Cartesian Circle

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):29 - 55 (1996)
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Abstract

René Descartes, one of the dominant figures in the history of philosophy, has been accused of one of the most obvious mistakes in the history of philosophy — the so-called cartesian circle. It is my goal in this paper to arrive at an understanding of Descartes's work that attributes to him a theory that should be of philosophical interest to contemporary epistemologists, is consistent with, and suggested by, the actual text, and avoids the circle.I begin with a brief explanation of the supposed circle. In his search for absolute certainty Descartes requires that in order for a proposition to be an instance of knowledge it must be indubitable for the knower, and in order for it to be indubitable for the knower she must be able to eliminate any possibility of the belief's being false. It is to provide a means to satisfy this requirement that Descartes proposes the principle whatever is clearly and distinctly perceived cannot be false.And it seems that Descartes's defense of CD traps him in the circle.

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Mark Heller
Syracuse University

Citations of this work

Evidence for God from Certainty.Katherin A. Rogers - 2008 - Faith and Philosophy 25 (1):31-46.

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References found in this work

Epistemic operators.Fred I. Dretske - 1970 - Journal of Philosophy 67 (24):1007-1023.
The cartesian circle.Louis Loeb - 1992 - In John Cottingham (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Descartes. Cambridge University Press. pp. 200--235.
Truth and Stability in Descartes' Meditations.Jonathan Bennett - 1990 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20 (Supplement):75-108.
Demons, Dreamers and Madmen. [REVIEW]Govier T. - 1974 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):681-689.

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