Descartes on the cognitive structure of sensory experience


Authors
Alison Simmons
Harvard University
Abstract
Descartes is often thought to bifurcate sensory experience into two distinct cognitive components: the sensing of secondary qualities and the more or less intellectual perceiving of primary qualities. A closer examination of his analysis of sensory perception in the Sixth Replies and his treatment of sensory processing in the Dioptrics and Treatise on Man teIls a different story. I argue that Descartes offers a unified cognitive account of sensory experience according to which the senses and intellect operate together to produce a fundamentally imagistic representation of the world in both its primary and secondary quality aspects. At stake here is not only our understanding of the cognitive structure of sensory experience but the relation of sense and intellect more generally in the Cartesian mind. The deep bifurcation in the Cartesian mind is not between the sensory perception of primary and secondary qualities but between sensory perception and purely intellectual perception.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205  
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2003.tb00308.x
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References found in this work BETA

The Senses and the Fleshless Eye: The Meditations as Cognitive Exercises.Gary Hatfield - 1986 - In Amelie Rorty (ed.), Essays on Descartes' Meditations. University of California Press. pp. 45–76.

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Citations of this work BETA

Malebranche and the Riddle of Sensation.Walter Ott - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (3):689-712.
Descartes on the Distinction Between Primary and Secondary Qualities.Anna Ortín Nadal - forthcoming - British Journal for the History of Philosophy:1-22.
I—Descartes on Nature, Habit and the Corporeal World.Sarah Patterson - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):235-258.
Natural Geometry in Descartes and Kepler.Gary Hatfield - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (1):117-148.

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