Cartesian Consciousness Reconsidered

Philosophers' Imprint 12 (2012)
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Abstract

Descartes revolutionized our conception of the mind by identifying consciousness as the mark of the mental: all and only thoughts are conscious. Today the idea that all thoughts are conscious seems obviously wrong. Worse, however, Descartes himself seems to posit a whole host of unconscious thoughts. Something is not as it seems. Either Descartes is remarkably inconsistent, or his claim that all thought is conscious is more nuanced than it appears. In this paper I argue that while Descartes was indeed unwavering in his commitment to the conscious mark, he had the resources to distinguish different types and degrees of consciousness that make for a richer cognitive psychology than he is typically credited with

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Alison Simmons
Harvard University

Citations of this work

Cartesian Clarity.Elliot Samuel Paul - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20 (19):1-28.
Descartes’s Anti-Transparency and the Need for Radical Doubt.Elliot Samuel Paul - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:1083-1129.
Cartesian intuition.Elliot Samuel Paul - 2022 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 31 (4):693-723.
Seventeenth-century theories of consciousness.Larry M. Jorgensen - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

The Passions of the soul and Descartes’s machine psychology.Gary Hatfield - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (1):1-35.
Routledge philosophy guidebook to Descartes and the meditations.Gary C. Hatfield - 2002 - New York: Routledge. Edited by René Descartes.

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