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Grand Theories and Everyday BeliefsScience, Philosophy, and their Histories$
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Wallace Matson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001

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(p.144) Chapter 18 Cartesianism
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Wallace Matson

Oxford University Press

Cartesian skepticism, unlike Pyrrhonism, was total, calling into question low beliefs as well as high. Descartes himself was not a skeptic but set out the argument in its favor for the purpose of refuting it and thereby strengthening theology. His argument was only possible against a specifically medieval background, his Evil Demon being the Omnipotent Creator-Legislator (OCL) in disguise. But as the skepticism was more convincing than the refutation, this concept is still around in our day, responsible for ‘modern’ philosophy's obsession with finding ‘foundations’ for knowledge. The pattern of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God, which moves from subjective conceivability to objective existence, can still be discerned in David Chalmers's advocacy of mind-body dualism: the subjective ‘logical possibility’ of zombies purporting to show the objective reality of the schism.

Keywords:   zombie, Chalmers, Ontological Argument, imaginability, Omnipotent Creator-Legislator (OCL), skepticism, logical possibility, Law of Nature, dualism, Evil Demon

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