By Jacques Barzun
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Extra resources for A Stroll With William James
He concludes that not even C&D perceptions get a free pass in this regard. It is possible, at the end of the First Meditation, to doubt anything retrospectively. This is consistent with maintaining that we cannot—and ought not—doubt what we currently C&D perceive. II. The Circle and the Two-Level Solution Descartes depicts two moments: one in which the possibility of a deceiving nature raises retrospective doubts about C&D perceptions, and another in which the self-evidence of the clear perceptions themselves rules out the possibility that we are being deceived.
What is the scope of the doubt? Let us suppose for a moment that he doubts (2), but not (1). On this reading, he worries that his original argument for the truth rule makes an illicit leap from particular to general. This is a plausible worry. There is big difference between knowing that one particular C&D proposition is true, and knowing that every C&D proposition is true. Perhaps Descartes is toying here with the Humean thought that no matter how many particular C&D propositions he is certain of, he can never know the universal truth rule for certain.
Looks around in all directions in order to extend its knowledge further. First of all, it finds within itself ideas of many things; and so long as it merely contemplates these ideas and does not affirm or deny the existence outside itself of anything resembling them, it cannot be mistaken. Next, it finds certain common notions for which it constructs This strategy is very similar the one that Van Cleve (1979) attributes to Descartes, and which I rejected above. There are two principal differences between our interpretations.
A Stroll With William James by Jacques Barzun