The cartesian paradigm of first philosophy: A critical appreciation from the perspective of another (the next?) Paradigm

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 6 (1):1 – 16 (1998)
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There are several paradigms of 'first philosophy' (e.g. Aristotle, Descartes). A third paradigm of first philosophy is transcendental pragmatics or transcendental semiotics (exemplified by Peirce and Wittgenstein). Husserl correctly grasped that Descartes inaugurated first philosophy in the sense of a transcendental inquiry into the foundations of absolute knowledge. But Husserl's retrieval of Descartes remains within the second paradigm in that it ignores the role of language as a condition of the possibility of objectively constituted knowledge. I propose to re-examine Descartes's conception of first philosophy to see if it can be read in the light of the third paradigm of transcendental philosophy, namely transcendental semiotics. I argue that Cartesian methodic doubt can be rehabilitated (against Wittgenstein's critique) as a kind of 'fallibilistic' approach to knowledge of a Peircean kind, and that the Cartesian cogito can be read (following Hintikka) as recognition of performative contradiction and of the necessity of speech acts, and hence of the transcendental communication community



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Cogito, ergo sum: Inference or performance?Jaakko Hintikka - 1962 - Philosophical Review 71 (1):3-32.

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