David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (2):169–194 (1997)
In the Fifth Meditation, Descartes makes a remarkable claim about the ontological status of geometrical figures. He asserts that an object such as a triangle has a 'true and immutable nature' that does not depend on the mind, yet has being even if there are no triangles existing in the world. This statement has led many commentators to assume that Descartes is a Platonist regarding essences and in the philosophy of mathematics. One problem with this seemingly natural reading is that it contradicts the conceptualist account of universals that one finds in the Principles of Philosophy and elsewhere. In this paper, I offer a novel interpretation of the notion of a true and immutable nature which reconciles the Fifth Meditation with the conceptualism of Descartes' other work. Specifically, I argue that Descartes takes natures to be innate ideas considered in terms of their so-called 'objective being'.
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Citations of this work BETA
Eric Stencil (2016). Essence and Possibility in the Leibniz‐Arnauld Correspondence. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (1):2-26.
Andrew Pessin (2010). Divine Simplicity and the Eternal Truths: Descartes and the Scholastics. Philosophia 38 (1):69-105.
Tad M. Schmaltz (2003). Cartesian Causation: Body–Body Interaction, Motion, and Eternal Truths. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (4):737-762.
Lawrence Nolan (2005). The Ontological Argument as an Exercise in Cartesian Therapy. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (4):521 - 562.
Patricia Easton (2009). What is at Stake in the Cartesian Debates on the Eternal Truths? Philosophy Compass 4 (2):348-362.
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