Cartesian intuition

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 31 (4):693-723 (2022)
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This paper explicates Descartes’ theory of intuition (intuitus). Departing from certain commentators, I argue that intuition, for Descartes, is a form of clear and distinct intellectual perception. Because it is clear and distinct, it is indubitable, infallible, and provides a grade of certain knowledge he calls ‘cognitio’. I pay special attention to why he treats intuition as a form of perception, and what he means when he says it is ‘clear and distinct’. Finally, I situate his view in relation to those of his Scholastic predecessors on one hand and current theories on the other. His view anticipates the contemporary ‘perceptual model of intuition’, though it is much bolder with its promise of certainty.



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Elliot Samuel Paul
Queen's University

Citations of this work

Descartes on certainty in deduction.Jacob Zellmer - 2024 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 105 (C):158-164.
Certainly useless: empiricists’ uncomfortable relationship with intuition.Lewis Powell - 2023 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 31 (4):724-743.

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References found in this work

Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?Edmund Gettier - 1963 - Analysis 23 (6):121-123.
Skepticism and the Veil of Perception.Michael Huemer - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):234-237.
Intuition and the Autonomy of Philosophy.George Bealer - 1998 - In Michael Raymond DePaul & William M. Ramsey (eds.), Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and its Role in Philosophical Inquiry. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 201-240.

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