Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Cartesian Truth$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Thomas C. Vinci

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195113297

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195113292.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2021

The Janus‐Faced Theory of Ideas of the Senses

The Janus‐Faced Theory of Ideas of the Senses

(p.179) Seven The Janus‐Faced Theory of Ideas of the Senses
Cartesian Truth

Thomas C. Vinci (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The leading idea of this chapter is that, for Descartes, intellectual ideas make it obvious what metaphysical category the properties they disclose to the mind fall into but not whether they are actually (formally) exemplified; sensations (ideas of secondary qualities) make it obvious whether the properties they disclose to the mind are exemplified but not what their metaphysical category is. This idea is worked out through a discussion of three stages in the development of Descartes's doctrine of the material falsity of sensory ideas, the core concept of his error explanation of the senses. Material falsity is a set of three defects that sensations have in comparison with intellectual ideas, ideas that fully discharge the role, which Descartes assigns to ideas in his philosophical system. The first stage, reflected in Meditation III, identifies material falsity with two defects: nonrepresentation (a failure on the part of sensations to represent any real thing to the mind) and misrepresentation (a capacity of sensations to mislead us into thinking that they represent something real); the second stage, reflected in the Reply to Arnauld (Fourth Replies), identifies material falsity with obscure ideas (a kind of representational indeterminacy regarding metaphysical category); the third stage, reflected in the Principles of Philosophy I, sees the terminology of material falsity disappear and the terminology of clear but not distinct ideas appear. Other topics discussed include a special application of the rule of truth and skepticism.

Keywords:   Arnauld, clear ideas, Descartes, error, intellectual ideas, Meditations, material falsity, metaphysical category, misrepresentation, obscure ideas, Principles of Philosophy, rule of truth, sensations, skepticism

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .