Descartes’ Atomism of Thought: A Solution to the Puzzle about True and Immutable Natures

Res Cogitans 13 (2):1-30 (2018)

Abstract

Central to Descartes’ philosophy is a view about immutable essences and eternal truths. After mentioning a Platonist account of recollection in Meditation V, Descartes declares that the ideas we have of mathematical notions “are not my invention but have their own true and immutable natures” (AT VII, 64/CSM II, 44).Descartes claims that other important philosophical notions, such as God, mind, body, and human free will (AT VII, 68; AT VIII-2, 348; AT III, 383; AT VII, 433, respectively), also have immutable natures or essences. Although Descartes says a good many things about this view, nowhere does he offer definitive doctrine on the matter, and in fact frequently confuses his reader with apparently inconsistent pronouncements about immutable natures and eternal truths. In this essay, I focus on the immutable natures and propose a solution to two of the main problems associated with Descartes’ position, the metaphysical status of immutable natures and the purported indivisibility of their existence as ideas in the mind.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,879

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-01-30

Downloads
25 (#461,058)

6 months
1 (#386,001)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Steven Burgess
Benedictine University
Steven Burgess
Benedictine University

References found in this work

Descartes Against the Skeptics.Edwin M. Curley - 1978 - Harvard University Press.
Descartes and the First Cartesians.Roger Ariew - 2014 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Descartes, the Cartesian Circle, and Epistemology Without God.Michael Della Rocca - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (1):1–33.
Descartes Against the Skeptics.Edwin M. Curley - 1978 - Harvard University Press.

View all 29 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

True and Immutable Natures and Epistemic Progress in Descartes's Meditations.David Cunning - 2003 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 11 (2):235 – 248.
The Ontological Status of Cartesian Natures.Lawrence Nolan - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (2):169–194.
A Dialogue with Descartes: Newton's Ontology of True and Immutable Natures.J. E. McGuire - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):103-125.
Simple Natures: The Alphabet of the Cartesian World.Madeleine Christiane Roy - 1988 - Dissertation, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
The Analytic of Body in Descartes' "Meditations".David Richard Cunning - 2000 - Dissertation, University of California, Irvine
Descartes' Theory of Essences.Lawrence Patrick Nolan - 1997 - Dissertation, University of California, Irvine
Descartes on Representation, Ideas, and Sensations.Kurt Dwayne Smith - 1998 - Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
Descartes’s Metaphysical Biology.Gideon Manning - 2015 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (2):209-239.
True and Immutable Natures.Willis Doney - 1997 - Laval Théologique et Philosophique 53 (3):743.
True and Immutable Natures.Willis Doney - 2005 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (1):131 – 137.