Rebecca 's Deceivers

Philosophy and Literature 24 (1):67-82 (2000)
Abstract
In his Meditations Descartes tells us that he initially thought error might be avoided if he withheld assent “no less carefully from what is not plainly certain and indubitable than from what is obviously false.” For example, he thinks it plainly certain and indubitable that he is “sitting by the fire, wearing a winter cloak, holding this paper in my hands, and so on.” And yet even what is “plainly certain and indubitable” can be doubted. “I will suppose, then, not that there is a supremely good God, the source of truth; but that there is an evil spirit, who is supremely powerful and intelligent, and does his utmost to deceive me.” Such a deceiver can spin illusions that appear indubitably real and true—of hands, fire, cloak, paper—and not only when there are none present in any particular case but even where there are none at all in any case. “I will suppose that sky, air, earth, colors, shapes, sounds and all external objects are mere delusive dreams, by means of which he lays snares for my credulity.”2 The deceiver hypothesis is the most difficult skeptical doubt Descartes must surmount in the remaining Meditations. I say the deceiver hypothesis, and for Descartes the deceiver is a mere possibility, raised so as to motivate the reconstitution of knowledge that follows. That there might be a powerful deceiver is itself a threat to knowledge for Descartes. Indeed even the possibility of an evil deceiver is so powerful a threat that Descartes must do nothing less than prove God’s existence to reestablish certainty. It is only at the end of his Meditations that Descartes can say, as if looking back on a hysterical moment, that the evil deceiver idea was “exaggerated” and “ridiculous.”3..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1353/phl.2000.0024
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,803
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Hitchcock and Cavell.Richard Allen - 2006 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (1):43–53.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Self-Knowledge, Externalism, and Skepticism,I.Brian P. McLaughlin - 2000 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 74 (1):93–118.
The Moral Certainty of Immortality in Descartes.Michael W. Hickson - 2011 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 28 (3):227-247.
Descartes, Madness and Method.David Scott - 2009 - International Philosophical Quarterly 49 (2):153-171.
The Silence of Descartes.John J. Conley - 1994 - Philosophy and Theology 8 (3):199-212.
Descartes' Dualism: Correcting Some Misconceptions.Andrea Christofidou - 2001 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 39 (2):215-238.
On the “Tension” Inherent in Self-Deception.Kevin Lynch - 2012 - Philosophical Psychology 25 (3):433-450.
A Journey Around the Cartesian Circle.Ewing Y. Chinn - 1983 - Philosophy Research Archives 9:279-292.
Added to PP index
2009-02-26

Total downloads
21 ( #245,368 of 2,202,718 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #301,061 of 2,202,718 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature