This paper defends an interpretation of Descartes according to which he sees us as having normative (and not merely psychological) certainty of all clear and distinct ideas during the period in which they are apprehended clearly and distinctly. However, on this view, a retrospective doubt about clear and distinct ideas is possible. This interpretation allows Descartes to avoid the Cartesian Circle in an effective way and also shows that Descartes is surprisingly, in some respects, an epistemological externalist. The paper goes on to defend this interpretation against some powerful philosophical objections by Margaret Wilson and others by showing how Descartes' doctrine of the creation of the eternal truths can be brought in to support his epistemology. This doctrine and other analogous positions in Descartes can also reveal that Descartes, again surprisingly, takes important steps toward doing epistemology without direct appeal to God and God's veracity
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2005.tb00504.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,975
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Does God Have a Nature?Alvin Plantinga - 1962 - Marquette University Press.
Descartes: A Study of His Philosophy.Anthony Kenny (ed.) - 1968 - St. Augustine's Press.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Descartes’s Anti-Transparency and the Need for Radical Doubt.Elliot Samuel Paul - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:1083-1129.
Reflective Knowledge.Kristin Primus - 2021 - In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), A Companion to Spinoza. Wiley Blackwell. pp. 265-275.
Against the New Cartesian Circle.Everett Fulmer & C. P. Ragland - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (1):66-74.
Memory Aids and the Cartesian Circle.Matthew Homan - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (6):1064-1083.

View all 27 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Cartesian Studies.R. J. Butler - 1972 - Blackwell.
A Journey Around the Cartesian Circle.Ewing Y. Chinn - 1983 - Philosophy Research Archives 9:279-292.
The Silence of Descartes.John J. Conley - 1994 - Philosophy and Theology 8 (3):199-212.
Cómo resolver la problemática pirrónica: lo que se aprende de Descartes.Ernesto Sosa - 1996 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 16 (1):7-26.


Added to PP index

Total views
480 ( #18,551 of 2,498,178 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
14 ( #56,027 of 2,498,178 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes