Ideas from 'Meditations' by René Descartes [1641], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Discourse on Method/The Meditations' by Descartes,René (ed/tr Sutcliffe,F.E.) [Penguin 1968,0-14-044206-5]].

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1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 5. Later European Thought
Modern science comes from Descartes' view that knowledge doesn't need moral purity
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Descartes created the modern view of rationality, as an internal feature instead of an external vision
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 2. Logos
Descartes impoverished the classical idea of logos, and it no longer covered human experience
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Reason says don't assent to uncertain principles, just as much as totally false ones
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 7. Status of Reason
Since Plato all philosophers have followed the herd, except Descartes, stuck in superficial reason
2. Reason / F. Fallacies / 4. Circularity
Once it is clear that there is a God who is no deceiver, I conclude that clear and distinct perceptions must be true
It is circular to make truth depend on believing God's existence is true
Descartes is right that in the Christian view only God can guarantee the reliability of senses
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 8. Subjective Truth
My general rule is that everything that I perceive clearly and distinctly is true
Someone may think a thing is 'clear and distinct', but be wrong
5. Theory of Logic / C. Ontology of Logic / 3. If-Thenism
Arithmetic and geometry achieve some certainty without worrying about existence
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 1. Mathematics
I can learn the concepts of duration and number just from observing my own thoughts
Surely maths is true even if I am dreaming?
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / c. Unity as conceptual
If I can separate two things in my understanding, then God can separate them in reality
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / e. Substance critique
Substance cannot be conceived or explained to others
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 7. Substratum
If we remove surface qualities from wax, we have an extended, flexible, changeable thing
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 4. Essence as Definition
Descartes gives an essence by an encapsulating formula
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
We know by thought that what is done cannot be undone
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / b. Conceivable but impossible
Pythagoras' Theorem doesn't cease to be part of the essence of triangles just because we doubt it
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / d. Cause of beliefs
Belief is not an intellectual state or act, because propositions are affirmed or denied by the will
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 1. Certainty
Labelling slightly doubtful things as false is irrational
Descartes tried to model reason on maths instead of 'logos'
Maybe there is only one certain fact, which is that nothing is certain
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 3. Error
I make errors because my will extends beyond my understanding
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 5. The Cogito
Modern philosophy set the self-conscious ego in place of God
The Cogito is a transcendental argument, not a piece of a priori knowledge
If I don't think, there is no reason to think that I exist
"I think therefore I am" is the absolute truth of consciousness
I must even exist if I am being deceived by something
"I am, I exist" is necessarily true every time I utter it or conceive it in my mind
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 6. Cogito Critique
The Cogito proves subjective experience is basic, but makes false claims about the Self
It is a precondition of the use of the word 'I' that I exist
Autistic children seem to use the 'I' concept without seeing themselves as thinkers
How can we infer that all thinking involves self-consciousness, just from my own case?
My self is not an inference from 'I think', but a presupposition of it
Maybe 'I' am not the thinker, but something produced by thought
A thought doesn't imply other thoughts, or enough thoughts to make up a self
The Cogito only works if you already understand what thought and existence are
We cannot give any information a priori about the nature of the 'thing that thinks'
The fact that I am a subject is not enough evidence to show that I am a substantial object
Modern self-consciousness is a doubtful abstraction; only senses and feelings are certain
'I think' assumes I exist, that thinking is known and caused, and that I am doing it
That I perform an activity (thinking) doesn't prove what type of thing I am
The thing which experiences may be momentary, and change with the next experience
The Cogito assumes a priori the existence of substance, when actually it is a grammatical custom
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 2. Phenomenalism
My perceiving of things may be false, but my seeming to perceive them cannot be false
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 4. Solipsism
I myself could be the author of all these self-delusions
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 4. A Priori as Necessities
A triangle has a separate non-invented nature, shown by my ability to prove facts about it
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / c. Primary qualities
For Descartes, objects have one primary quality, which is geometrical
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
Why does pain make us sad?
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
Dogs can make the same judgements as us about variable things
We perceive objects by intellect, not by senses or imagination
The wax is not perceived by the sense, but by the mind alone
We don't 'see' men in heavy clothes, we judge them to be men
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / a. Foundationalism
To achieve good science we must rebuild from the foundations
Only one certainty is needed for progress (like a lever's fulcrum)
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
Descartes can't begin again, because sceptics doubt cognitive processes as well as beliefs
Even if my body and objects are imaginary, there may be simpler things which are true
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 3. Illusion Scepticism
If pain is felt in a lost limb, I cannot be certain that a felt pain exists in my real limbs
It is prudent never to trust your senses if they have deceived you even once
The senses can only report, so perception errors are in the judgment
We correct sense errors with other senses, not intellect
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 4. Demon Scepticism
To achieve full scepticism, I imagine a devil who deceives me about the external world and my own body and senses
God may have created nothing, but made his creation appear to me as it does now
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 5. Dream Scepticism
Waking actions are joined by memory to all our other actions, unlike actions of which we dream
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
I can only sense an object if it is present, and can't fail to sense it when it is
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 3. Mental Causation
Can the pineal gland be moved more slowly or quickly by the mind than by animal spirits?
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
We discovers others as well as ourselves in the Cogito
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 5. Unity of Mind
Faculties of the mind aren't parts, as one mind uses them
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 2. Imagination
Imagination and sensation are non-essential to mind
16. Persons / D. Self and Body / 3. Cartesian Ego
Some cause must unite the separate temporal sections of a person
Since I only observe myself to be thinking, I conclude that that is my essence
I can exist without imagination and sensing, but they can't exist without me
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Free Will / a. Nature of free will
Our 'will' just consists of the feeling that when we are motivated to do something, there are no external pressures
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Free Will / b. Pro-free will
My capacity to make choices with my free will extends as far as any faculty ever could
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 1. Dualism
Descartes is a substance AND property dualist
The mind is utterly indivisible
The mind is a non-extended thing which thinks
Mind is not extended, unlike the body
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 2. Interactionism
Interaction between mental and physical seems to violate the principle of conservation of energy
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
The 'thinking thing' may be the physical basis of the mind
Knowing different aspects of brain/mind doesn't make them different
Does Descartes have a clear conception of how mind unites with body?
Even Descartes may concede that mental supervenes on neuroanatomical
Superman's strength is indubitable, Clark Kent's is doubtful, so they are not the same?
Descartes gives no clear criterion for individuating mental substances
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 2. Propositional Attitudes
In some thoughts I grasp a subject, but also I will or fear or affirm or deny it
18. Thought / C. Content / 1. Content
All ideas are adventitious, and come from the senses
18. Thought / C. Content / 2. Ideas
True ideas are images, such as of a man, a chimera, or God
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 2. Origin of Concepts / c. Nativist concepts
The idea of a supremely perfect being is within me, like the basic concepts of mathematics
The ideas of God and of my self are innate in me
I can think of innumerable shapes I have never experienced
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 2. Natural Purpose
Many causes are quite baffling, so it is absurd to deduce causes from final purposes
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. Particular Causation / c. Conditions of causation
There must be at least as much in the cause as there is in the effect
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 2. Divine Nature
God the creator is an intelligent, infinite, powerful substance
Nothing apart from God could have essential existence, and such a being must be unique and eternal
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 3. Divine Perfections
It is self-evident that deception is a natural defect, so God could not be a deceiver
28. God / C. Proofs of Reason / 1. Ontological Proof
Existence and God's essence are inseparable, like a valley and a mountain, or a triangle and its properties
I cannot think of a supremely perfect being without the supreme perfection of existence
The idea of God in my mind is like the mark a craftsman puts on his work
One idea leads to another, but there must be an initial idea that contains the reality of all the others
28. God / C. Proofs of Reason / 2. Ontological Proof critique
We mustn't worship God as an image because we have no idea of him
We can never conceive of an infinite being
Descartes cannot assume that a most perfect being exists without contradictions
Existence is not a perfection; it is what makes perfection possible
29. Religion / F. Problem of Evil / 3. Human Error
Since God does not wish to deceive me, my judgement won't make errors if I use it properly
Error arises because my faculty for judging truth is not infinite
God didn't give us good judgement even about our own lives
29. Religion / F. Problem of Evil / 4. Natural Evil
If we ask whether God's works are perfect, we must not take a narrow viewpoint, but look at the universe as a whole