By Jean-Luc Marion
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Extra resources for Cartesian Questions: Method and Metaphysics
But since mathematical truths, simple natures, and eternal truths are not exposed to doubt, shall we conclude that any metaphysical breakthrough is excluded? Of course not; we can only reasonably conclude the following: If a metaphysics is present, doubt as it is formulated here cannot provide access to it. This does not preclude the possibility that another breakthrough in 1637 could reach the metaphysical domain proper. ” 19 However, two arguments limit the extent of this admission. First, Descartes makes a pedagogical argument: Arguably, he could have demonstrated the actual distinction between the soul and the body, but he worried that this might have made his treatise too technical, which would have interfered with his desire to reach a WHAT IS THE METAPHYSICS WITHIN THE METHOD?
A) An indisputable point (as we saw above in §1): In 1637 doubt affects only the realm of the senses and its representations, in other words, “ everything material” (AT I, 353, 1. 14). It follows that the ego that is freed by this doubt is freed only from its material presup positions; it “ does not require any place, or depend on any material thing” (DM, 33, 5-7). But since mathematical truths, simple natures, and eternal truths are not exposed to doubt, shall we conclude that any metaphysical breakthrough is excluded?
28-29); “idea of a supremely perfect and infinite being” (46, 11. 11-12 ). Yet this idea of the infinite does not coincide, in extension or in understanding, with the idea of most perfect being, which is why Descartes carefully distinguishes between them, at least in 1641. For, in 1637, the only three occurrences of the infinite always associate it with perfection (DM, 35, 11. 4-6; 39, 11. 4-5; 43, 11. 7-8): In the Discourse the same single concept of divine essence determines and legitimizes, without distinguishing between them, two proofs as different as the so-called ontological argument and the demonstration by the idea of the infi nite.