Descartes' Lumen Naturale and the Cartesian Circle

Philosophy and Theology 9 (3-4):273-320 (1996)
The author argues that Descartes is not trapped inside the Cartesian circle. The essay rehearses Descartes’ argument against the “evil demon” hypothesis. The so-called Cartesian circle is described and some of the most prominent discussions of the problem are evaluated. Such arguments tend either to leave Descartes in the circle, or themselves depend upon distinctions that in the end lead to Descartes claiming something less than metaphysical certainty for his system. The author argues that Descartes’ real Archimedian point is the light of nature, and that his project is to extend the certainty of the light of nature to those ideas which are clear and distinct. Using this interpretation of Descartes, the author returns to the accounts of the critics to account for their mischaracterization of Descartes’ reasoning as circular
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DOI 10.5840/philtheol199693/41
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