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But Descartes also offers a different gloss on the obscurity of sensory ideas. Accordingly, sensory ideas are not misrepresentations, they are simply so obscure and confused that we cannot tell what their representational content might be by considering their experienced character, such as the phenomenal character of cold or of color. Metaphysics and natural philosophy are needed to tell us what our color sensations obscurely represent: properties of object-surfaces that reflect light a certain way—see Sec.

On this interpretation, Descartes is saying that the resemblance thesis arises not because the sensory ideas of cold or of color misrepresent those qualities in objects, but because we make a cognitive error, stemming from the prejudices of childhood as mentioned in Sec. The issues surrounding the notion of material falsity in Descartes are intricate and cut to the core of his theory of mind and of sensory representation. The interested reader can gain entrance to literature through Wee and Hatfield More generally, Copernicus had, in the previous century, offered a forceful argument for believing that the sun, not the earth, is at the center of the solar system.

Early in the seventeenth century, Johannes Kepler announced new results in optics, concerning the formation of images, the theory of lenses, and the fact that the retinal image plays a central role in vision. By the early s, Descartes was aware of William Harvey's claim that the blood circulates in the body. Descartes himself contributed some specific new results to the mathematical description of nature, as co-discoverer of the sine law of refraction and as developer of an accurate model of the rainbow.

Special physics concerned actually existing natural entities, divided into inanimate and animate. Inanimate physics further divided into celestial and terrestrial, in accordance with the Aristotelian belief that the earth was at the center of the universe, and that the earth was of a different nature than the heavens including the moon, and everything beyond it. Animate terrestrial physics concerned the various powers that Aristotelians ascribed to ensouled beings, where the soul is considered as a principle of life possessing vital as well as mental or cognitive powers.

In the simplest textbooks, the powers of the soul were divided into three groups: vegetative including nutrition, growth, and reproduction , which pertained to both plants and animals; sensitive including external senses, internal senses, appetite, and motion , which pertain to animals alone; and rational powers, pertaining to human beings alone.

Descartes' ambition was to provide replacements for all the main parts of Aristotelian physics. In his physics, there is only one matter and it has no active forms. Thus, he dissolved the boundary that had made the celestial and the terrestrial differ in kind. His one matter had only the properties of size, shape, position, and motion. The matter is infinitely divisible and it constitutes space; there is no void, hence no spatial container distinct from matter.

The motions of matter are governed by three laws of motion, including a precursor to Newton's law of inertia but without the notion of vector forces and a law of impact. Earth, air, fire, and water were simply four among many natural kinds, all distinguished simply by the characteristic sizes, shapes, positions, and motions of their parts. Although Descartes nominally subscribed to the biblical story of creation, in his natural philosophy he presented the hypothesis that the universe began as a chaotic soup of particles in motion and that everything else was subsequently formed as a result of patterns that developed within this moving matter.

Thus, he conceived that many suns formed, around which planets coalesced. On these planets, mountains and seas formed, as did metals, magnets, and atmospheric phenomena such as clouds and rain. The planets themselves are carried around the sun in their orbits by a fluid medium that rotates like a whirlpool or vortex. Rather, they are driven down by the whirling particles of the surrounding ether. Descartes insisted that all cases of apparent action at a distance, including magnetism, must be explained through the contact of particle on particle.

He explained magnetism as the result of corkscrew-shaped particles that spew forth from the poles of the earth and flow from north to south or vice versa, causing magnetized needles to align with their flow Princ. To explain magnetic polarity, Descartes posited that the particles exiting from the south pole are threaded in one direction and those from the north are threaded oppositely like the oppositely threaded spindles on bicycle pedals. Descartes also wanted to provide an account of the formation of plants and animals by mechanical causes, but he did not succeed during his lifetime in framing an account that he was willing to publish so that only portions of his physiology were revealed in the Discourse , Dioptrics , Meditations , Principles , and Passions.

In writings that were published only posthumously but were read by friends and followers during his lifetime, e. In mechanizing the concept of living thing, Descartes did not deny the distinction between living and nonliving, but he did redraw the line between ensouled and unensouled beings. In his view, among earthly beings only humans have souls. He thus equated soul with mind: souls account for intellection and volition, including conscious sensory experiences, conscious experience of images, and consciously experienced memories.

Descartes regarded nonhuman animals as machines, devoid of mind and consciousness, and hence lacking in sentience. Although Descartes' followers understood him to have denied all feeling to animals, some recent scholars question this interpretation; on this controversy, see Cottingham and Hatfield Consequently, Descartes was required to explain all of the powers that Aristotelians had ascribed to the vegetative and sensitive soul by means of purely material and mechanistic processes These mechanistic explanations extended, then, not merely to nutrition, growth, and reproduction, but also to the functions of the external and internal senses, including the ability of nonhuman animals to respond via their sense organs in a situationally appropriate manner: to approach things that are beneficial to their body including food and to avoid danger as the sheep avoids the wolf.

In the Treatise on Man and Passions , Descartes described purely mechanical processes in the sense organs, brain, and muscles, that were to account for the functions of the sensitive soul. The brain structures that mediate behavior may be innate or acquired. Descartes ascribed some things that animals do to instinct; other aspects of their behavior he explained through a kind of mechanistic associative memory.

He held that human physiology is similar to nonhuman animal physiology, as regards both vegetative and some sensitive functions—those sensitive functions that do not involve consciousness or intelligence:. Many of the behaviors of human beings are actually carried out without intervention from the mind. The fact that Descartes offered mechanistic explanations for many features of nature does not mean that his explanations were successful. Indeed, his followers and detractors debated the success of his various proposals for nearly a century after his death.

His accounts of magnetism and gravity were challenged. Leibniz challenged the coherence of Descartes' laws of motion and impact. Newton offered his own laws of motion and an inverse square law of gravitational attraction. His account of orbital planetary motions replaced Descartes' vortexes. Others struggled to make Descartes' physiology work. There were also deeper challenges.

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Some wondered whether Descartes could actually explain how his infinitely divisible matter could coalesce into solid bodies. Why shouldn't collections of particles act like whiffs of smoke, that separate upon contact with large particles? Indeed, how do particles themselves cohere? Such problems were real, and Descartes' physics was abandoned over the course of the eighteenth century. Nonetheless, it provided a conception for a comprehensive replacement of Aristotelian physics that persisted in the Newtonian vision of a unified physics of the celestial and terrestrial realms, and that continued in the mechanistic vision of life that was revived in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

This was especially true for what came to be known as the secondary qualities in the terminology of Robert Boyle and John Locke. The secondary qualities include colors, sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile qualities such as hot and cold. When light strikes an object, the particles that constitute light alter their rotation about their axis. When particles with one or another degree of spin interact with the nerves of the retina, they cause those nerves to jiggle in a certain way.

This jiggling is conveyed to the brain where it affects the animal spirits, which in turn affect the mind, causing the mind to experience one or another color, depending on the degree of spin and how it affects the brain. Color in objects is thus that property of their surface that causes light particles to spin in one way or another, and hence to cause one sensation or another. There is nothing else in the surface of an object, as regards color, than a certain surface-shape that induces various spins in particles of light.

Descartes introduced this new theory of sensory qualities in the first six chapters of the World. There, he defended it by arguing that his explanation of qualities in bodies in terms of size, shape, and motion are clearly understood by comparison with the Aristotelian qualities Subsequently, in the Meditations and Principles , he defended this account by appeal to the metaphysical result that body possesses only geometrical modes of extension. Real qualities are ruled out because they are not themselves instances of size, shape, or motion even if patches of color have a size and a shape, and can be moved about.

In addition to a new theory of sensory qualities, Descartes offered theories of the way in which the spatial properties—size, shape, distance, and position—are perceived in vision. It had been an area of inquiry since antiquity. Euclid and Ptolemy had each written on optical problems. During the Middle Ages, the Arabic natural philosopher Ibn al-Haytham produced an important new theoretical work in which he offered an extensive account of the perception of spatial properties.

The theoretical terrain in optics changed with Kepler's doctrine that vision is mediated by the retinal image and that the retina is the sensitive body in the eye. Descartes accepted Kepler's result and framed a new theory of spatial perception. Some of his theorizing simply adapted Ibn al-Haytham's theories to the newly discovered retinal image. Thus, Ibn al-Haytham held that size is perceived by combining the visual angle that a body subtends with perception of its distance, to arrive at a perception of the true size of the object. Visual angle is formed by the directions from a vantage point to a seen-object for a given fixation, e.

In al-Haytham's scheme, visual angle is registered at the surface of the crystalline humor. Descartes held that size is perceived by combining visual angle with perceived distance, but he now treated visual angle as the extent of an object's projection onto the retina. In Ibn al-Haytham's account, if the size of an object is known distance may be perceived through an inference; for a given size, an object's distance is inversely proportional to its visual angle. Descartes recognized this traditional account, depending as it does on past experience of an object's size and on an inference or rapid judgment that combines perceived visual angle with known or remembered size.

Descartes held that these rapid judgments are habitual and happen so quickly that they go unnoticed. Further, the sensations that present the objects in accordance with visual angle also go unnoticed, as they are rapidly replaced by visual experiences of objects at a distance. Ibn al-Haytham also explained that distance can be perceived by an observer's being sensitive to the number of equal portions of ground space that lie between the observer and a distant object.

Descartes did not adopt this explanation. However, Descartes used his mechanistic physiology to frame a new account of how distance might be perceived, a theory different from anything that could have been found in Ibn al-Haytham. In Kepler's new theory of how the eye works, an image is formed on the retina as a result of refraction by the cornea and lens. For objects at different distances, the focal properties of the system must be changed, just as the focal length of a camera is changed. He then theorized that this change in the shape of the lens must be controlled by muscles, which themselves are controlled by nerve processes in the brain.

Descartes realized that the central nervous state that controls accommodation would vary directly in proportion to the distance of objects. However, unlike the case of inferring distance from known size and visual angle, Descartes did not suppose that the mind is aware of the apparatus for controlling the accommodation of the eye. Rather, he supposed that, by an innate mechanism, the central brain state that varies with distance directly causes an idea of distance in the mind ; This physiologically produced idea of distance could then be combined with perceived visual angle in order to perceive an object's size, as in al-Haytham's theory of size perception.

When we correctly perceive the distance and combine it with visual angle by an unnoticed mental act , the result is a veridical perception of a size-at-a-distance.

Penetrating the Neck

Also, in saying an object ten times farther away than a near object should be a hundred times smaller, he is speaking of area; it would be ten times smaller in linear height. Descartes' work on visual perception is but one instance of his adopting a naturalistic stance toward conscious mental experience in seeking to explain aspects of such experience. The Passions constitute another. It is sometimes said that Descartes' dualism placed the mind outside nature by rendering it as an immaterial substance. In this way, Descartes and his followers posited the existence of psychophysical or psychophysiological laws, long before Gustav Fechner —87 formulated a science of psychophysics in the nineteenth century.

The things that readers find valuable in Descartes' work have changed over the centuries. We have seen that his natural philosophy had an immediate impact that lasted into the eighteenth century. His theory of vision was part of that heritage, as were his results in mathematics. We have also seen that his mechanistic account of the psychology of the sensitive soul and his view that animals are like machines were revived in the nineteenth century.

The fortune of the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of Descartes' philosophy is complex. In his own time, he inspired a raft of followers, who sought to develop his metaphysics, epistemology, natural philosophy, and even to add a worked-out ethics. The British philosopher Henry More at first followed Descartes but subsequently turned against him. Other major philosophers, including Benedict de Spinoza and G. Leibniz, were influenced by Descartes' thought but developed their own, distinct systems.

Perhaps the most profound effect that Descartes had on early modern epistemology and metaphysics arose from his idea to examine the knower as a means to determine the scope and possibilities of human knowledge. Among his immediate followers, Malebranche most fully developed this aspect of Descartes' philosophy. Subsequent philosophers who were not followers of Descartes also adopted the strategy of investigating the knower. These authors came to different conclusions than had Descartes concerning the ability of the human mind to know things as they are in themselves.

Hume and Kant especially—and each in his own way—rejected the very notion of a metaphysics that reveals reality as it is in itself.

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They did not merely deny Descartes' particular metaphysical theories; they rejected his sort of metaphysical project altogether. But they did so through the type of investigation that Descartes himself had made prominent: the investigation of the cognitive capacities of the knower. During the twentieth century, various aspects of Descartes' philosophy were widely invoked and perhaps just as widely misinterpreted. The first is Descartes' skepticism. Some authors then treated Descartes' project in the Meditations as that of reducing human knowledge to immediate sense data, from which knowledge of the external world was to be constructed.

As a reading of Descartes, this position has little to offer. As we have seen, in the Second and Third Meditations Descartes argues from the indubitability of the cogito reasoning to the trustworthiness of intellectual perception to the existence of a perfect being God. In the latter argument, he does indeed seek to infer the reality of a being external to himself. But the inference does not invoke sensory experience. It proceeds from a nonsensory and innate idea of God to the existence of that God.

Whatever one may think of the quality of the argument, it has nothing to do with sense data. Descartes used skeptical arguments as a tool to disengage the reader from the sensory world in order to undertake metaphysical investigations. There did result, in the Sixth Meditation, a re-evaluation of the senses in relation to metaphysics. But again, sense data were not in the mix. Another line of twentieth-century interpretation also focused on the isolation of the subject in the Second Meditation. In the course of that Meditation, Descartes accepts that he knows the contents of his mind, including putative sensory experiences, even though he doubts the existence of his body.

Some philosophers have concluded from this that Descartes believed that human beings actually can, in their natural state, have sensory experiences even if they lack a body. But Descartes in fact denied that possibility. In his metaphysics, sense perception and imagination depend for their existence on mind—body union. There can be intellectual perceptions that do not depend on the brain. But acts of imagination and sense perception require the brain Pass.

Thus, Descartes did not in fact hold that we might have all of our sense experiences even if we had no brain. Rather, he allowed that he could conceive his sensory experiences independent of the brain, and that, if God were not supremely good, God could produce those experiences in us independent of the brain; but because God's perfection is inconsistent with deceit, he would never do this.

Hence, conceivability does not in all cases—and especially not in cases of mere ignorance, as in the Second Meditation—yield metaphysical possibility as we have seen in the Discourse argument for the mind—body distinction. The claim that Descartes denied the body and the emotions is easily put aside. A more historically nuanced reading of Descartes' text would connect it with the practice of spiritual meditation extant in the seventeenth century, a practice that Descartes co-opted for his metaphysical meditations see the first three chapters in Rorty Also, the notion that Descartes ignored the body and emotions does not respond at all to his work on the Passions , in which the body has a starring role.

More generally, this sort of charge does not engage the long portion of the Sixth Meditation that concerns mind—body union and interaction and the embodied mind. As has been mentioned, Descartes explained many human behaviors through the machine of the body, without mental intervention. Descartes envisioned similar purely mechanistic explanations for many of the behaviors that arise from the passions or emotions. In this connection, the body acts first and the felt experience of the passion has the function of getting the mind to want to do what the body is already doing Pass.

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In any event, Descartes by no means held that all human behavior does or should arise from rational deliberation. Which is not to say that he devalued rational deliberation when there is time and need to undertake it. But he was under no illusion that all effective human behavior stems from reason.

See a Problem?

How could interpreters get Descartes so wrong? They then use Descartes as a stalking horse. Moriarty suggests that many readers of Lacan and Foucault have not received the same education in philosophy or in Descartes. The implication is that Lacan and Foucault engaged Descartes from a knowledge of his writings, whereas others who lack such knowledge misunderstand the value of such genuine engagement and take away misunderstood implications.

This would also explain how Descartes could be charged with denying the emotions even though he published an entire book on the Passions , and how the implications of this book might be overlooked by someone eager to find a famous target to disagree with. Leaving aside such blatant misinterpretations, what is Descartes' legacy now? The breadth of his influence in the seventeenth century is permanent, including his specific contributions in mathematics and optics, his vision for a mechanistic physiology, and the model he offered to Newton of a unified celestial and terrestrial physics that assigns a few basic properties to a ubiquitous matter the motions of which are governed by a few simple laws.

In this regard, Descartes' work offers an example of culturally engaged philosophy. Descartes had a sense for the fundamental philosophical issues of his time, many of which concerned the theory of nature and the attempt to found a new natural science. He not only offered a systematic reformulation of the extant natural philosophy, but he did so in a way that could be heard and understood. Beyond past historical influences, Descartes' philosophy continues to speak to us now and to offer new insights to new generations of philosophers who are in position to hear what he said.

This can be seen in the revival of body-first theories of the emotions. Ironically, some of Descartes' most vocal detractors among scientists who study the emotions, including Damasio , espouse theories similar in many respects to Descartes' own, on which, see Hatfield Further, his theories of sensory qualities have inspired new reflections Simmons , as has his account of distance perception see Wolf-Devine and the entries on optics and perception in Nolan More generally, his Meditations is one of the most finely crafted examples of philosophical prose in the entire history of philosophy.

That in itself ensures its ongoing relevance. In the end, Descartes' legacy partly consists of problems he raised, or brought into prominence, but did not solve. The mind—body problem is a case in point. Descartes himself argued from his ability clearly and distinctly to conceive mind and body as distinct beings to the conclusion that they really are separate substances.

Most philosophers today accept neither the methodological basis for his claim nor the claim itself. Indeed, since the time of Kant, few philosophers have believed that the clear and distinct thoughts of the human mind are a guide to the absolute reality of things. Hence, the notion that even clear conceivability discerns metaphysical possibility is not accepted. Moreover, few philosophers today are substance dualists. All the same, the mind—body problem persists. In distinguishing the domain of the mental from that of the physical, Descartes struck a chord.

Many philosophers accept the conceptual distinction, but remain uncertain of the underlying metaphysics: whether mind is identical with brain; or the mental emerges from complex processes in the brain; or constitutes a property that is different from any purely physical property, even while being instantiated by the brain. In this case, a problem that Descartes made prominent has lived far beyond his proposed solution. Note on references and abbreviations: References to Descartes' works as found herein use the pagination of the Adam and Tannery volumes AT , Oeuvres de Descartes , 11 vols.

The AT volume numbers provide a guide to which work is being cited in translation: vols. Where there is no accessible translation for a citation from AT, the citation is shown in italics.


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Links to digitized photographic reproductions of early editions of Descartes' works may be found under Original editions and early translations of major works. The following links are to other online editions:. Intellectual Biography 1. Philosophical Development 3. A New Metaphysics 3. The New Science 5. Theory of Sense Perception 6. He also presented an image of the relations among the various parts of philosophy, in the form of a tree: Thus the whole of philosophy is like a tree.

The roots are metaphysics, the trunk is physics, and the branches emerging from the trunk are all the other sciences, which may be reduced to three principal ones, namely medicine, mechanics and morals. Philosophical Development In general, it is rare for a philosopher's positions and arguments to remain the same across an entire life. A New Metaphysics Descartes first presented his metaphysics in the Meditations and then reformulated it in textbook-format in the Principles. In the fifth set of Objections to the Meditations , Gassendi suggests that there is difficulty concerning what possible skill or method will permit us to discover that our understanding is so clear and distinct as to be true and to make it impossible that we should be mistaken.

As I objected at the beginning, we are often deceived even though we think we know something as clearly and distinctly as anything can possibly be known. In the words of Arnauld: I have one further worry, namely how the author avoids reasoning in a circle when he says that we are sure that what we clearly and distinctly perceive is true only because God exists. But we can be sure that God exists only because we clearly and distinctly perceive this. Hence, before we can be sure that God exists, we ought to be able to be sure that whatever we perceive clearly and evidently is true.

I saw that while I could pretend that I had no body and that there was no world and no place for me to be in, I could not for all that pretend that I did not exist. I saw on the contrary that from the mere fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed quite evidently and certainly that I existed; whereas if I had merely ceased thinking, even if everything else I had ever imagined had been true, I should have had no reason to believe that I existed.

From this I knew I was a substance whose whole essence or nature is simply to think, and which does not require any place, or depend on any material thing, in order to exist. He held that human physiology is similar to nonhuman animal physiology, as regards both vegetative and some sensitive functions—those sensitive functions that do not involve consciousness or intelligence: Now a very large number of the motions occurring inside us do not depend in any way on the mind. These include heartbeat, digestion, nutrition, respiration when we are asleep, and also such waking actions as walking, singing, and the like, when these occur without the mind attending to them.

When people take a fall, and stick out their hands so as to protect their head, it is not reason that instructs them to do this; it is simply that the sight of the impending fall reaches the brain and sends the animal spirits into the nerves in the manner necessary to produce this movement even without any mental volition, just as it would be produced in a machine.

That is, we judge their size by the knowledge or opinion that we have of their distance, compared with the size of the images they imprint on the back of the eye—and not simply by the size of these images. This is sufficiently obvious from the fact that the images imprinted by objects very close to us are a hundred times bigger than those imprinted by objects ten times farther away, and yet they do not make us see the objects a hundred times larger; instead they make the objects look almost the same size, at least if their distance does not deceive us.

Legacy The things that readers find valuable in Descartes' work have changed over the centuries. Bibliography Note on references and abbreviations: References to Descartes' works as found herein use the pagination of the Adam and Tannery volumes AT , Oeuvres de Descartes , 11 vols. Primary Literature: Works by Descartes Original editions and early translations of major works Leiden: Jan Maire. Digitized photographic reproduction DPR online pdf.

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Meditationes de prima philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animae immortalitas demonstrantur. Paris: Michel Soly. DPR online pdf. Amsterdam: Elzevir. Principia philosophiae. DPR online pdf and tiff. Etienne de Courcelles. Louis-Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes Meds. The Seventh Objections and Replies appeared first in the 2nd French edn. Les principes de la philosophie , trans. Claude Picot. Paris: Henry Le Gras. A discourse of a method for the well guiding of reason, and the discovery of truth in the sciences.

London: Thomas Newcombe. Les passions de l'ame. Passiones animae , trans. Henry Desmarets. The passions of the soule. London: John Martin and John Ridley. Available through EEBO. Claude Clerselier. Paris: Charles Angot. DPRs online, Vol. De homine , trans. Florentius Schuyl.

Leiden: Leffen and Moyardum. Le monde, ou, Le traite de la lumiere, et des autres principaux objects des sens. Paris: Girad. This is the first edition of Descartes' original French. Six metaphysical meditations wherein it is proved that there is a God and that mans mind is really distinct from his body: hereunto are added the objections made against these meditations by Thomas Hobbes, with the authors answers , trans. William Molyneux. London: Benjamin Tooke. This translation of the six Meditations proper is reprinted in Gaukroger Opuscula posthuma, physica et mathematica. Amsterdam: Blaeu.

The first publication of the Rules in Latin a Dutch translation had appeared in , together with other writings. Recent English translations Discourse on Method, Optics, Geometry, and Meteorology , trans. Paul J. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Treatise of Man , trans. Thomas S. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. With an introduction and many explanatory notes. Principles of Philosophy , trans. Miller and R. Dordrecht: Reidel. A complete translation of the Principles. Philosophical Writings of Descartes , 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Passions of the Soul , trans.

Stephen H. Indianapolis: Hackett. George Heffernan. A literal translation of the six Meditations proper, with facing-page Latin. Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings , trans. Desmond M. London: Penguin. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi. World and Other Writings , trans. Stephen Gaukroger. Discourse on Method and Related Writings , trans. Michael Moriarty. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A fresh translation with detailed explanatory notes. Secondary Literature References Carriero, John, Janet Broughton and John Carriero. Malden, Mass.

Cottingham, John, John Cottingham. Oxford: Oxford University Press, — Damasio, Antonio, New York: Putnam. Oeuvres de Descartes , 11 vols. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, new edn. Cited by volume and page number. Doney, Willis ed. Eternal Truth and the Cartesian Circle. New York: Garland Publishing. Frankfurt, Harry G. Garber, Daniel, Descartes' Metaphysical Physics.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hatfield, Gary, Stephen Voss. New York: Oxford University Press, — London: Routledge, — Oxford: Blackwell, — John Carriero and Janet Broughton. Karen Detlefsen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, — Jacquette, Dale, Loeb, Louis, Machamer, Peter, and J.

McGuire, Moriarty, Michael, Nolan, Larry ed. The Cambridge Descartes Lexicon. Popkin, Richard H. History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza. Berkeley: University of California Press. Descartes: His Life and Thought , trans. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Essays on Descartes' Meditations. Rozemond, Marleen, Oxford: Blackwell, 48— Russell, Bertrand, Chicago: Open Court. Schuster, John, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble, 41— Sebba, Gregor, Dream of Descartes. Carbondale, Ill. Simmons, Alison, Watson, Richard, Cogito, Ergo Sum , rev. Boston: Godine. Wee, Cecilia, Material Falsity and Error in Descartes' Meditations.

London: Routledge. Wells, Norman J. Wheeler, Michael, Cambridge: MIT Press. Wolf-Devine, Celia, Descartes on Seeing: Epistemology and Visual Perception. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Other Readings Alanen, Lilli, Oxford: Clarendon Press, — Ariew, Roger, Descartes among the Scholastics. Leiden: Brill. Descartes' Meditations: Background Source Materials. Broughton, Janet, Descartes's Method of Doubt. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Broughton, Janet, and John Carriero eds.

Companion to Descartes. Brown, Deborah J. Descartes and the Passionate Mind. Carriero, John, Clarke, Desmond M. Descartes' Philosophy of Science. Cottingham, John ed. Cambridge Companion to Descartes. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Cunning, David, Argument and Persuasion in Descartes' Meditations.

Curley, Edwin, Descartes against the Skeptics. Cambridge, Mass. Des Chene, Dennis, Detlefsen, Karen ed. Descartes' Meditations: A Critical Guide. Dicker, Georges, Descartes: An Analytical and Historical Introduction , 2nd edn. New York: Oxford University Press. Dobre, Mihnea, and Tammy Nyden eds. Cartesian Empiricisms. Dordrecht: Springer. Flage, Daniel E. Bonnen, Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen. Gaukroger, Stephen, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography. Descartes' System of Natural Philosophy. The Blackwell Guide to Descartes' Meditations.

Descartes' Natural Philosophy. Grene, Marjorie, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Ariew, 2 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 45— Descartes' Meditations. Kenny, Anthony, Descartes: A Study of His Philosophy. New York: Random House. Laudens, Laurens, Manning, Gideon, Sophie Roux and Dan Garber.

New York: Kluwer, — Menn, Stephen, Descartes and Augustine.


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    By this point, America had fallen in love with them. They were asked to headline Coachella two years ago, but refused, as they didn't want it to seem "like a victory lap". Branco raises his arms in the air and runs on the spot for emphasis. Instead, they wanted to do it when they had some new songs ready, but Phoenix albums don't come quickly.

    They like to spend months in the studio, messing around, "trying to create something based on pure luck", according Branco. Like jamming? We do not jam. They're finally about to release their fifth studio album, Bankrupt! Well, why is also a good question. Our scales are always through the prism of European music, like Debussy reinventing exoticism. They had no idea. The band talk about their Frenchness often, and the idea of the band as Gallic outsiders is one they play up to, at least in a live setting.

    However, right now, it feels as if French music is about to dominate the world, what with their success and the imminent return of old friends Daft Punk with whom they started this whole thing in the first place, as the band Darlin', in the early 90s. They say they are thought of more warmly at home than they were at the start, when their refusal to sing in French saw multiple doors closed in their faces. For a while it was a bit hostile in the beginning, but now we are bizarre ambassadors for some kind of French experience.

    Surely, I say, this is ironic, if they have always felt like outsiders. We cannot deny it. All the hits — Motown, everything — they would duplicate and sing in French. They had access to the best songs in the world, and everyone thought they were written by French people, even though they would talk about jukeboxes, palm trees… ". We note that there is a bright orange pop-art peach on the cover of their new album. I fought very hard for a coconut. When we started the album, they found this big treasure in India, with the biggest diamonds ever found, in a temple.

    Among it, there was a life-sized coconut made of pure gold. Mars smiles, in mild disbelief. There were typically esoteric reasons that the golden coconut was ousted for the still-life peach, however. We had this naive approach with the cover: that you'd see something totally random — this grey background, this neutrality and awkwardness — and it would scream 'us'.

    Sceptics have already suggested Bankrupt!


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