Contemporary scepticism and the cartesian God

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):465-497 (2005)
Abstract
Descartes claims that God is both incomprehensible and yet clearly and distinctly understood. This paper argues that Descartes’s development of the contrast between comprehension and understanding makes the role of God in his epistemology more interesting than is commonly thought. Section one examines the historical context of sceptical arguments about the difficulty of knowing God. Descartes describes the recognition of our inability to comprehend God as itself a source of knowledge of him; section two aims to explain how recognizing limits to our cognitive powers is supposed to yield knowledge of anything other than ourselves. Section three aims to give a partial account of the role that awareness of the limitations of our cognitive powers is supposed to play in anchoring our knowledge of other things, and to show how such an approach to knowledge could still contribute to the development of a response to scepticism in the contemporary context.
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