Philosophical Review 111 (1):105-108 (2002)

Lawrence Nolan
California State University, Long Beach
This long and ambitious work offers a systematic interpretation of Cartesian metaphysics and epistemology from the perspective of Descartes’s so-called founding principle, cogito ergo sum. The book is organized around the three parts of this famous dictum, though its scope is much more encompassing. Part 1 offers a careful analysis of the “formal structure” of Cartesian thought, in an effort to identify what is distinctive about the cogito and to uncover how Descartes’s theory of mind makes this insight possible. Part 2 addresses the notions of truth and certainty as they relate to the claim “I exist”. Part 3 tackles one of the most vexed interpretive questions relating to the cogito, namely, whether and in what sense “I exist” is inferred from “I think,” as the logical particle ergo would seem to suggest. The cogito principle, however, is only the lens through which Miles examines Descartes’s larger system. One attractive feature of the project is that he uses this principle to develop what he takes as a key to Descartes’s philosophy—the process of “analytical reflexion” by which knowledge that was previously only implicit is explicitly intuited. This interpretive key is then employed to unlock many of the other major Cartesian themes, including the method of doubt, clear and distinct perception, innate ideas, analytic and synthetic method, the infamous Circle, and the divine creation of the eternal truths. The result is a set of extremely scholarly readings of important texts and doctrines that, if not always convincing, is fresh, nuanced, and provocative.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0031-8108
DOI 10.1215/00318108-111-1-105
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The Morality of Happiness.Julia Annas - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
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