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Descartes’s Dreams

Imagination in the "Meditations</I>


Ann Scholl

Ann Scholl revises the traditional understanding of the role of imagination and sensory perception in Descartes’s Meditations. Traditionally, Cartesian scholars have focused primarily on sensory perception as the more significant of the two «special» modes of thought. In this work, Ann Scholl describes how a better understanding of Descartes’s skepticism and his arguments for dualism are reached when imagination instead is understood as the more primary of the two special modes of thought. The result is a fresh reading and interpretation of Descartes’s most influential work.


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Notes 125


Notes Introduction: The Importance of Imagination 1 Cottingham, Stoothoff and Murdoch, editors. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, (Cam- bridge: 1984), p. 11. Hereafter, references to Descartes’s writings will be from this translation, referred to as ‘CSM’ followed by volume numbers and page numbers and preceded by stan- dard reference ‘AT’ to the Adam-Tannery volumes. 2 AT VII. 72–74: CSM II. 50–51. 3 J. Cottingham, “Descartes, Sixth Meditation: The External World, ‘Nature’ and Human Na- ture,” Philosophy Supp. 20 (1986): 73–89. Reprinted in Descartes’s Meditations, edited by V. Chappell, Rowman & Littlefild (1998): 207–223. All future references will be to the reprint. Chapter I: Theory of Sensory Perception 1 For instance, see A. MacKenzie, Descartes on Sensory Representation: A Study of dioptrics, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 109–147, 1990 and A. Simmons. “Are Cartesian Sensations Representational?” Noûs, 1999. 2 AT. VII. 72: CSM I. 100–108. 3 In this essay, I am primarily concerned only with second-grade and only briefly discuss the first grade level for purposes of clarification and do not discuss the third-grade sensory percep- tions. 4 For example, see M. Wilson, Descartes (Routledge: 1978); R. Arbini, “Did Descartes Have a Philosophical Theory of Sense-perception?” Journal of the History of Philosophy, 21, 317–38, Nancy Maull, “Cartesian Optics and the Gemetrization of Nature,” The Review of Metaphysics XXXII, #2, 1978; by M. Hooker, editor, Descartes: Critical and Interpretive Essays (Balti- more, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978); N. Wells, “Objective Reality of Ideas in Des- cartes,...

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