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Lecture

Descrates 3rd Meditation.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 1050
Professor
Paul Raymont
Semester
Fall

Description
Philosophy Sept 12  Intentionality of the mind  Representation by the mind  Formal & Objective reality  Cause and Effect realities  Actual & Potential Infinity  Infinite/Good God  God Exists 3rd Meditation Descartes is now confident he knows the contents of his mind, but whenever he tries to get beyond his mind, he still runs into doubt. This includes when he thinks of objects like: human bodies, and non-physical objects. He is convinced nothing outside his mind exists. He looks at his ideas to see if they can show him if there is a certain kind of thing that exists independently of him. He makes claims of the nature of ideas. He emphasizes the intentionality of the mind. This is the notion he gets from medieval philosophers, the word “intend” in Medieval Latin, means to point at something. Descartes is saying that our mental states seem to point to things beyond themselves. “I don’t have an idea, I have an idea of something. My thoughts are about things, and represent things to me”. Our mental states are representations of things beyond themselves. This notion is seen as odd. If you see spatial relations (being on the left or right) you cant have objects standing in those relations unless they’re real. It can’t be true that Guelph is west of Toronto unless they both exist. Someone can be fond of Santa (this is a thought, a liking, a mental state that represents things other then itself. Even though those thoughts can be legitimate, what you might be relating them to might not exist. The thing represented by the mind doesn’t need to be real. Physical things can represent things beyond themselves. A chalkboard can have “dog” written on it, the chalk that you used on the board was used to write the word dog. The word dog represents what you know as a physical dog; the mind interprets what you see. We would represent things differently if our language had developed differently, a squiggle might mean something to us. Photographs and pictures don’t depict certain people, unless we see them as depicting and presenting those certain people. Descartes examined his ideas, and from all the above, he made the distinction between formal reality and objective reality. Objective reality pertains to the properties of the thing that is represented. Formal reality is everything, stuff that isn’t mental. The table’s formal reality is wood. The arms formal reality is skin. Looking at a portrait of the Queen, the formal reality would be the portrait, the wood, the paint, etc. The objective reality would be the Queen, her face. A must have as much reality as B. The cause must have as least as much reality as its effect. To Descartes, reality means stuff. The cause has to have as much stuff in it, as the effect it produces. This is the ultimate source of conservation laws in physics. You find a pile of ashes on the floor; you know it had to come from something. Maybe it was paper, maybe some of the paper was released in the air, but it fell in a different form when it was burnt. Whatever stuff was in the effect, had to be around beforehand, even it was in a different form. Now, we use the word “cause” as a little trigger, but for Descartes, the cause is all the things that were present beforehand to cause the effect. An avalanche could have been caused by a small noise, but all the snow had to be present beforehand for the avalanche to occur. He’s looking at his ideas and saying, “Could I have caused these ideas? When I’m having perceptual experiences, I’m not controlling or choosing them, they’re just popping up in my mind. But I could still be the cause of the ideas. When I dream, I cause them somehow
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