Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"In some way prior": Priority and its role in Descartes' cosmological argument
by Swanson, Regina D., M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2016, 72; 10147302
Abstract (Summary)

In the Second Meditation, Descartes’ meditator achieves certainty about his existence as a thinking thing. This provides the indubitable foundation from which he proves the existence of God and the material world. However, in the Third Meditation, Descartes writes “…my perception of the infinite, that is God, is in some way prior to my perception of the finite, that is myself” (AT 45; CSM II 31). The claim seems incongruous, since the meditator discovers something about his own existence and nature first. This thesis will identify four alternative meanings of the term ‘priority’ and defend the one that best reflects Descartes’ intentions. Each of the definitions affects Descartes’ first cosmological argument specifically and the Third Meditation generally. Priority provides an interpretive key to the Third Meditation, clarifying the structure of the cosmological argument, strengthening the argument against traditional objections, and providing insight into Descartes’ theory of innate ideas.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nolan, Lawrence
Commitee: Haghighi, Shahrokh, Klein, Alexander
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 56/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, Philosophy, Philosophy
Keywords: Descartes, Meditations, Priority
Publication Number: 10147302
ISBN: 9781369025279
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