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Descartes's FictionsReading Philosophy with Poetics$
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Emma Gilby

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198831891

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198831891.001.0001

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Contemplating the Divine

Contemplating the Divine

(p.157) 8 Contemplating the Divine
Descartes's Fictions

Emma Gilby

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Descartes’s more general articulation of our reliance on God, who alone, he says, can offer us continuing certainty. Descartes is struck by wonder at the beauty of God’s ‘immense light’, even if his own understanding is ‘shrouded in darkness’. In contemplating the divine, Descartes needs to come to terms with dramatic paradigms of necessity and contingency. Here, we consider Descartes’s statements about eternal truths. Like Virgil’s Jupiter, God simultaneously creates laws and sees them fulfilled. Contemporary debates about whether we can ‘univocally’ conceive of the divine and the human also return us, in this chapter, to themes of conversion, humility, and an attention that is strengthened even as it recognizes its own limits. Throughout, we observe cross-currents of association between philosophy, patristics, and poetics.

Keywords:   eternal truths, Augustine, univocity, Antoine Arnauld, conversion

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