Objective Being and “Ofness” in Descartes

Abstract

It is generally assumed that Descartes invokes “objective being in the intellect” in order to explain or describe an idea’s status as being “of something.” I argue that this assumption is mistaken. As emerges in his discussion of “materially false ideas” in the Fourth Replies, Descartes recognizes two senses of ‘idea of’. One, a theoretical sense, is itself introduced in terms of objective being. Hence Descartes can’t be introducing objective being to explain or describe “ofness” understood in this sense. Descartes also appeals to a pretheoretical sense of ‘idea of’. I will argue that the notion of objective being can’t serve to explain or describe this “ofness” either. I conclude by proposing an alternative explanation of the role of objective being, according to which Descartes introduces this notion to explain the mind’s ability to attain clear and distinct ideas.

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Lionel Shapiro
University of Connecticut

References found in this work

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1689 - London, England: Oxford University Press.
Foundations of Mind.Tyler Burge - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda.Stephen Yablo - 2002 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 441-492.

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Citations of this work

Interventionist Causal Exclusion and Non‐Reductive Physicalism.Michael Baumgartner - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):161-178.
Intentionality: Some Lessons From the History of the Problem From Brentano to the Present.Dermot Moran - 2013 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 21 (3):317-358.
Two Kinds of Intentionality in Locke.Lionel Shapiro - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (4):554-586.

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