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Descartes' Error, with Reference to the Third and Fourth Meditations

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Philosophers of mind often assume that methodological solipsism, as outlined in the Second Meditation, is Descartes' last bid on the nature of mental life. This paper argues, instead, that it is a transitional position he overcomes in the dynamic progression of his philosophical therapy. The Third Meditation questions the methodological solipsism that in fact owes much to (received) Cartesian dualism for its dissemination. Descartes' treatment of error has important analogies with Wittgenstein's private language argument. As LĂ©vinas emphasises in his dialogical philosophy, Descartes' proof of God via the concept of error involves recognition of the irreducibility of the Other.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2010

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