Doubts about indubitability
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Forum 41 (4):389-412 (2010)
Kirsten Besheer has recently considered Descartes’ doubting appropriately in the context of his physiological theories in the spirit of recent important re-appraisals of his natural philosophy. However, Besheer does not address the notorious indubitability and its source that Descartes claims to have discovered. David Cunning has remarked that Descartes’ insistence on the indubitability of his existence presents “an intractable problem of interpretation” in the light of passages that suggest his existence is “just as dubitable as anything else”. However, although the cogito argument is widely thought to be central to the force of Descartes’ indubitability, for his part, Cunning does not consider its relevance and force. Accordingly, this article is concerned with the cogito argument and the question central to Hintikka’s seminal contribution, described by Cottingham as “Perhaps the most debated question,” namely, whether or not the cogito can be construed as a logical inference. Clearly, an inferential account has the potential to explain the certainty of Descartes’ conclusion that he exists. Recently, Sarkar offers what he characterizes as “novel and fairly conclusive reasons why the cogito cannot be construed as an argument,” asserting “the discovery of the cogito can only be an intuition not a deduction.” Obviously, it would greatly support the opposing inferential construal if a remotely plausible logical argument could be proposed. Toward this end, I defend the virtues of my ‘Diagonal’ account of Descartes’ cogito Above all, I show how my analysis meets the requirement that any satisfactory solution to the problem of the cogito would reconcile Descartes’ claim that the cogito is a certain inference with his claim that it is an intuitive kind of knowledge. Through a critical discussion of analyses such as that of Gallois , I show that it is possible to provide a textually faithful analysis that permits seeing the cogito as both inference and intuition because it may be seen as an exercise in the mathematical method of Analysis. Above all, as Feldman requires, I show that the Diagonal account is not only textually elegant, but permits crediting Descartes with a worthy insight, thereby resolving the tension between what Howell has termed the Humean and Cartesian problems, namely, the elusiveness and the certainty of the self.
|Keywords||Cogito indubitability method of analysis intuition or inference|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|External links||This entry has no external links. Add one.|
|Through your library||Configure|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Bernd Magnus, James Benjamin Wilbur & Laurence J. Lafleur (eds.) (1970). Cartesian Essays: A Collection of Critical Studies. The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff.
David Woodruff Smith (1993). The Cogito Circa Ad 2000. Inquiry 36 (3):225 – 254.
Husain Sarkar (2003). Descartes' Cogito: Saved From the Great Shipwreck. Cambridge University Press.
Jerrold J. Katz (1986). Cogitations: A Study of the Cogito in Relation to the Philosophy of Logic and Language and a Study of Them in Relation to the Cogito. Oxford University Press.
Murray Miles (2010). Analytic Method, the Cogito, and Descartes's Argument for the Innateness of the Idea of God. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 14 (2):289-320.
William J. Rapaport (1976). On Cogito Propositions. Philosophical Studies 29 (1):63-68.
Michael R. Baumer (1985). Sketch for a Modal Interpretation of Descartes' Cogito. Philosophy Research Archives 11:635-655.
Andre Gallois (2000). The Indubitability of the Cogito. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (4):363–384.
Peter Slezak (2010). Doubts About Descartes' Indubitability: The Cogito as Intuition and Inference. Philosophical Forum 41 (4):389-412.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads40 ( #35,925 of 1,088,810 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #69,666 of 1,088,810 )
How can I increase my downloads?