Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Vol. LIX, No. 3, September 1999

The FourthMeditation1

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Recent scholarship suggests that Descartes's effort to establish a truth criterion is not viciously circular (notwithstandingits reputation)-a fact that invites closer scrutiny of his epistemological program.One of the least well understoodfeatures of the project is his deduction of a truthcriterion from theistic premises, a demonstrationDescartes says he provides in the Fourth Meditation: the alleged proof is not revealed by a casual reading, nor have commentators fared any better; in general, the relevance of the Fourth Meditation has not been duly appreciated.This paper reconstructsthe argument of the Fourth Meditation, detailing the steps in the demonstration of the criterion and clarifying its role in the larger program. Surprisingly, Descartes deduces a truth criterion more fundamental than clarity and distinctness; this more fundamental criterion helps explain what are otherwise cryptic (though central) epistemological moves in the Sixth Meditation.

According to the so-called problem of the criterion,efforts to establish a truth criterion involve an inevitable circularity:in advancing the steps of a proof one thereby presupposesthe criterionone endeavors to prove. Famously, the epistemological program of the Meditations was thought to provide a case study of the problem.Descartes's efforts to establish a criterionof clarity and distinctness look (prima facie) to unfold as a circle defined by two arcs: he endeavorsto demonstratea veraciousGod by appealto the veracity of the criterion;he endeavorsto demonstratethe veracityof the criterionby appealto a veracious God. As a perusal of recent scholarshipsuggests, it is now widely circular-numerous commentaheld that the project is not straightforwardly tors have challenged the first arc.2The second arc, however, is not in quesI am grateful to Robert Audi, Annette Baier, Paul Hoffman, Harry Ide, Nicholas Jolley, Alan Nelson, Ram Neta, Nelson Pike, Mark van Roojen, and an anonymous referee for Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, for commenting on earlier drafts of this paper. I have also benefited from discussion of earlier versions of the paper with audiences in philosophy colloquia at HarvardUniversity, University of Pittsburgh, and the CaliforniaConference in Early Modern Philosophy. There are a variety of interpretationsin the literature whereby the first arc is rejected. See, e.g., Sosa (1997), Loeb (1992), Van Cleve (1979), and Kenny (1970). Here's the gist of one such account (cf. Newman and Nelson 1999). Propositionsmay induce assent, in virtue of being clearly and distinctly perceived, even if the perceiver has no proof of clarity and distinctness as a general truth criterion. On this reading, the Third Meditation proofs of God (among others) are clear and distinct and thus assent-compelling, even




tion. But the details of the demonstration(there mentioned) have not been well understood, nor has the relevance of the Fourth Meditation been duly appreciated. In his introductory synopsis of the Meditations,Descartes writes:
In the Fourth Meditation it is proved that everything that we clearly and distinctly perceive is true ... (CSM 2:1 1, AT 7:15)3 [I]t was not possible to prove this [the truthcriterion]before the FourthMeditation. (CSM 2:9, AT 7:13) These [Fourth Meditation] results need to be known both in order to confirm what has gone before and also to make intelligible what is to come later. (CSM 2:1 1, AT 7:15)

Commentatorshave been unable to make good on these claims;4some even of the FourthMeditation have challengedthem.' In general,our understanding the theory of judgmentpresentedthere is generis embarrassingly inadequate: ally well understood;6 the matter of its contribution to the (presumably orderly) epistemological project in which it is embedded, and to which Descartes alludes (in the Synopsis), is widely regardedas an enigma and routinely receives short shrift.7In the presentpaper,I aim to repairthese defects while taking seriously Descartes's synoptic remarks. in our understanding As I argue, the FourthMeditationunfolds as follows. Descartes begins by reconsidering the problem of evil as it applies to error. The bulk of the FourthMeditationis then devoted to a theodicy for error,one that is interesting in its own right and central to the larger epistemological project. The theodicy is advancedwith the help of the Aristotelianprivation-negation distinction. This distinction is also used for epistemological purpose, in that it






though clarity and distinctness qua criterion has yet to be established. The claim of the first arc is thus false. There are a host of residual problems in Descartes's efforts to solve the skeptical problem,but vicious circularityis not among them. 'AT' = Adam and Tannery (1904); 'CSM' = Cottingham, Stoothoff, and Murdoch (1984); 'CSMK' = Volume III of CSM for which Anthony Kenny is a contributingtranslator. References to both AT and CSM are to the volume and page. I am aware of no successful effort to locate a proof of the criterion of clarity and distinctness in the FourthMeditation. Rather,interpreterstend to focus on a suggestive passage in the Third Meditation (at AT 7:35). See, for example, Rodis-Lewis (1986, 273ff), Stout (1968, 169ff), Frankfurt (1970, 114 and 170-80), and Caton (1991, 106). Others deemphasize this suggestive Third Meditation passage but offer no account of how the criterion is established in the FourthMeditation.See, for example, Gewirth (1941, 382-84), Doney (1955, 334), Williams (1978, 107-8 and 187ff), and Loeb (1992, 200). For instance, Gueroultclaims that, from the FourthMeditation,Descartes draws "nothing more than conclusions of method" (1984, 229). And Cress (1994) argues, in effect, that none of these synoptic remarksis strictly true. Cf. Wilson (1978, chap. 4), Williams (1978, chap. 6), and Curley (1975). In one recent treatment of the Meditations (Dicker 1993), the Fourth Meditation is skipped entirely, without explanation, in a work that otherwise amounts to a Meditationby-Meditation commentary.



allows Descartes to clarify in which circumstanceserrorwould be incompatible with the divine essence-call these f-type circumstances: (1) If I should be in error in p-type circumstances, God would be a deceiver. In concert with the ThirdMeditationargumentsfor God's veracity, (1) yields the desired truth criterion:judgments arising in ?-type circumstances are has a surprisingconsequence for the celeguaranteedtrue.This interpretation bratedcircumstanceof perceiving a matterclearly and distinctly. Ratherthan 0-type circumstancesconsisting in clear and distinct perception,such perception turns out to be a special case of ?-type circumstances. Emerging from the Fourth Meditation is another truth criterion more fundamentalthan the clarity and distinctnesscriterion.This surprisingresult has welcome interpretive consequences. It helps explain seemingly cryptic epistemological moves occurringlate in the Meditations:primafacie, the Sixth Meditationmeditator appearsto strayfrom the rigorousstandardsof the early Meditations,forming by the clarityand distinctnesscriterion;on the judgmentsthatare unwarranted those judgments arise in 0-type circumstancesand are present interpretation, truthcriterion. thus groundedin the more fundamental In what follows, I first reconstruct Descartes's theodicy for error and explain how it yields the claim in (1). In Section 2, I reconstructthe demonstrationof the clarity and distinctness criterionand explain its relation to the 0-type circumstancesthat yield the more fundamentaltruthcriterion.I close Section 2 with a brief discussion of the role of this more fundamental criterionin the Sixth Meditation. 1. The theodicy of the Fourth Meditation 1.1. The problem In the ThirdMeditation,Descartes arguesfor an omniperfectdeity. He opens the FourthMeditation (AT 7:54) by reconsideringthe traditionalproblem of evil, as applied to error-the form in which it is introducedin the First Meditation (AT 7:21). As typically construed, the problem rests on an apparent tension in the supposition of an omniperfect creator who produces a world with evil. The apparenttension may be clarified by an analogy to ordinary an analogy which Descartesvariouslydevelops and to which I manufacturers, later return.Defect in the products of ordinarycraftsmen would seem to be owed to a limitation of power, knowledge, or benevolent intention.When we believe such defect is owed to a limitation in power or knowledge, we're apt from moral culpability (though perhapsnot from to excuse the manufacturer all legal responsibility). I shall refer to any such excusing condition as a



Thus. that its greatness. It cannot be that an omniperfect creator would have no MSR for producing creatures with any defect whatever. this seems to show that he must have lacked either the knowledge or the power or the will to do so.2). in the Meditations. since (at least) the defect of A sufficiently subtle being a creature (and hence dependent)is unavoidable. distinction(as discussed Descartes invokes the Aristotelianprivation-negation in Section 1. by presupposing that an omniperfectcreatorwould have no MSR for any occurrenceof error: But if it were inconsistent with [God's] goodness to have created me such that I am deceived all the time."(1965. skeptical problems often rest on conceptual mistakes. but God.' In contrast. for Descartes. despite having the knowledge and the power.9 treatmentof the problemwould need distinguishamong types of defect. those that err) amounts to a reductio ad absurdun on the supposition of an omniperfect creator.Descartes introducesthe problemof evil in lesssubtle fashion by having his First Meditationmeditatormake the same mistake that Gassendi later repeats-generating the reductio. power. notwithstanding FourthMeditationtreatment. it would seem equally foreign to his goodness to allow me to be deceived even occasionally. 129) 562 LEX NEWMAN . As Leibniz puts it: "A being exempt from limitation would not be a creature. Descartes holds that this formulation of the problem is too crude. he lacked the will and preferred imperfectionto perfection. and all its other perfections are limited or restricted. (CSM 2:214-15. Precisely here lies the rub for the thesis of an omniperfectcreator:since such a being would not be limited in power or knowledge. along with the prospects of there being MSRs for each. In the above First Meditation remark.we admit of no MSR when we believe the defect is owed entirely to a lapse of benevolent the assumptionthat there would be no MSR for a world with creatureswho systematicallyerr (a scenarioinspiredby the Deceiver Hypothesis). As will emerge.morally sufficient reason (MSR). he must introduce them by way of hypotheses that (by his lights) his more-subtle involve disguised conceptualmuddles. Every creature is limited in this sense. Since. He was certainly imperfect if. AT 7:308) It appears that the mere existence of defective creatures(e. As Gassendiobjects: [G]iven that [God] could have made things more perfect but did not do so. yet this last assertioncannot be made.g. Towards these ends. it would seem to have no MSR for producingcreatureswith defect. AT 7:21) Never contested. knowledge. (CSM 2:14. the naive meditatoris supposing the following: 8 9 I borrow the term from Pike (1963).

even when produced by God.God would have no such MSR. AT 7:55).48.Descartes opens the Fourth Meditation by revisiting the problem. This is (comparative)imperfection in the kind. "it seems impossible that he should have placed in [us] a faculty which is not perfect of its kind. Descartes's theodicianstrategy Among the inherited doctrines on which Descartes relies is the thesis that being is intrinsically good in that it comes from God. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 563 . whether actual or merely possible." Descartes writes.provides Descartes the leverage he thinks is needed in his eventual appealto p-typecircumstances(in his epistemological program). and imperfect kinds. Descartes thinks (2) rests on a conceptual mistake. 1 Non-being theses date back at least as early as Plato. Summa Theologica (hereafter STD 1."'Following in the Aristotelian tradition. a claim I'll try to motivate with the craftsmananalogy. Only the former need involve intolerable imperfection for which an omniperfect creatorwould have no MSR. It is imperfect in another sense insofar as it lacks the perfection of a more deluxe model (or perhapsan entirely different product). Enchiridion ch. the former variety of imperfection (viz. This intuition. Thus. In this latter sense. the defect need involve none other than a design limitation of the sort to which all creaturesare susceptible: every product is essentially limited. but unless the mistake is rectified the undisputed fact of occasional error will impede any efforts to establish finally an omniperfectdeity. and indeed all are not positive beings but insteadresult from an absence defect/imperfection. In contrast. from some relevant limitation in the power or knowledge of the manufacturer.that malfunctioningproductsare irreconcilablewith an omniperfect manufacturer. Evil. at least in part.2. or which lacks some perfectionwhich it ought to have" (CSM 2:38.3). Given the "natureof God. I If). This is imperfection in the instance. and their applicationto the problem of evil is developed in the medieval period by (among others) Plotinus (cf. imperfection of instances) is intolerable in the since we admit of MSRs for such context of an omniperfect manufacturer: malfunction only if we believe it to result. and Thomas (cf. the meditator is confronted with absurdity.Descartes distinguishes two varieties of imperfection: imperfect instances of a kind.8). of being-much as one is temptedto construedarknessas nothing more than the absence of light.(2) A world with creatures that sometimes err is as contrary to the divine essence as a world with creaturesfor whom erroris unavoidable. Enneads 1. Augustine (cf. 1. thereby setting the stage for a discussion of theodicy in which (2) is to be challenged. A product is imperfect in one sense if it malfunctions. on the heels of the ThirdMeditation effort.

13 An acceptable theodicy must avoid the attribution of privation to the omniperfectmanufacturer (as this that would entail contradiction). are merely negations. The craftsman analogy is again useful. for it can be taken in a negative and in a privative sense.3) Both varieties of imperfection involve a negation of being. Aristotle writes: We say that that which is capable of some particularfaculty or possession has suffered privation when the faculty or possession in question is in no way presentin that in which.48.48. 10. otherwise it would follow that wholly non-existents were bad. The mere negation of a good does not have the force of evil. Privative defect rendersbeings imperfectinstances of their kinds. As Thomas writes. but ratherthat which has not teeth or sight at the time when by natureit should. 12 13 In my use of jargon. 4. my primaryaim will be to facilitate an understandingof Descartes. We do not call that toothless which has not teeth. Where 'pure' indicates the defect is non-privative. Ch. thus blindness which is the privationof sight. Culpabilitymight instead the brakes-perhaps failing to use them in the mannerprescribedfor driving on slippery surfaces. for instance. one whose wheels have locked-up resulting in a collision.'2 Relating the distinction to evil. if considered in relation to ourselves they are privations" (CSM 1:203. ch. it should naturallybe present. in effect. Thomas observes: [A]n evil means the displacementof a good. privation"is found in a special mannerin rational creatures possessing will": it involves the kind of "shortcoming that falls under the control of the will" (ST la. while in privationthere is also employed an underlying natureof which the privation is asserted"(bk. if considered in relation to God. or that blind which has not sight. Not that every absence of a good is bad.Descartes expresses the distinction between these two varieties of imperfection in the Aristotelian jargon of privation and negation.5). Culpability might lie with the manufacturer-perhaps a mistake in the manufacturing process renderedthe lie with the driver for misusing lock-up inevitable. he adds: "negation means just the absence of the thing in question. God would "not give me the kind of faculty which would ever enable me to go wrong while using it correctly"(CSM 2:37-38. Consider a car without anti-lock brakes. (ST la. The absence of good taken deprivatively is what we call evil. Purely negative defect renders whole kinds as imperfect. In the Metaphysics. in that the culpable privation lies in the misuse of our will: "our errors. 564 LEX NEWMAN . who was not swift as a mountain-goatand strong as a lion. ratherthan a faithful renderingof the texts of Aristotelians. AT 8a:17). a man.Descartes thus invokes a special case of creaturelyprivationto which Scholastics also appeal. 2). Descartes argues. and at the time at which." In the Categories. also that a thing was bad because it did not possess the quality of something else. AT 7:54). thatjudgment erroris more like this second case.

two cases: 15 In the Fifth Replies. Grantthat the driverof the car. and can thus avail itself of all mannerof anti-error technology. Descartes complains that Gassendi erroneously assumes "thatour being liable to erroris a positive imperfection positived imperfectione. AT 7:130).i.To help distinguishthis user-culpablevariety of privationfrom the manufacturer-culpable variety. has failed to use the brakes in the prescribed manner. on wet surfaces) is excessive. as Descarteswrites. it would seem that the manufacturerbears some culpability for the collision-a fortiori where anti-lock brake technology is available. imperfectionof instances. a Meditationthat preparesus to be able to withhold assent so as to avoid error. And grant further that the brakes have no positive imperfection in that they work flawlessly when used in the prescribedmanner. since God is no deceiver therewould "be a contradiction that anything should be created by him which positively tends towardsfalsehood"(CSM 2:103.29. AT 8a:16. he recognizes that even some purely negative imperfection might be problematic. in sensory contexts) is excessive. he does. being) needed for truthfuljudging. the positive being it has-its design-would unavoidably tend towards error. or at least weeks" to the First Meditation alone (CSM 2:94. for example.The craftsmananalogy helps bring this out. AT 7:376). if the level of skill requiredto avoid error(e. grant that our faculties of judging do not malfunctionwhen used correctly.e.4 Were my faculties lacking some perfection(i. when in fact it is simply (especially with respect to God) the negation of greater perfection among createdthings"(CSM 2:258.e. Likewise. In the Principles 1.g. the cause of the errors to which we know by experience that we are prone"(CSM 1:203. my italics).Even so. By Descartes's own lights. Descartes sometimes refers to the latter as positive imperfectionn. Descartes adds that "it is a complete contradictionto suppose that [God] might deceive us or be. it would seem that the manufacturerof our cognitive faculties bears some culpability-a fortiori if our manufactureris omniperfect. that Descartes owes us more than an argumentestablishing that our faculties of judging are free from positive imperfection. in our earlierscenarioresultingin collision.15 Though Descartes regardspositive imperfectionas incompatible with the divine essence. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 565 .As I read him. A final clarification of importantdistinctions will help us appreciatehis theodicianstrategy: Two categories of defect/imperfectionrelative to a product: (a) 14 privative imperfection.He must also addresswhetheran omniperfect would have an MSR for endowing us with faculties that render manufacturer us highly susceptible to error.such errorwould need be attributedto God since everything positive comes from God.Nonetheless. then. But.Renderedunavoidablein this positive manner. using our cognitive faculties in the prescribedmannerrequires such great expertise that he recommendswe "devote several months. if the level of skill requiredto use them in the prescribedmanner(e. in the strict and positive sense. AT 7:144). It would seem.g.

Thus the candidatesfor positive imperfection are the parts and their composition. privativein relationto the user. to the extent that the Meditations advances a voluntarist doctrine concerning creaturelyassent. I take it that the doctrine applies only negatively (it is within our direct voluntary control to withhold assent only. 1. AT 7:56).the First Meditation supposition (in (2)) motivating the problem of error is shown to be false: the moral implicationsof occasional errorowed to creaturelymisuse are very differentthanthose of systematicerrorowed to positive imperfection.3. imperfectionof kinds. however.Insofaras it contributes to judgment.First. were not the content to which I were in fact attending.'6 The intellect is found to be free of positive imperfection.But Descartes thinks this kind of erroris not possible. since it involves no positive imperfection(as Descartes characterizesit). I think the two-faculty account is best read as applying to assent as opposed to belief-arguably. but not to give assent) and with exceptions (we cannot but assent when our perceptionof a matteris clear and distinct). type (b) imperfectionrendersthe productsusceptible to misuse (thus enabling type (aii) imperfection). i. however. Part one of the theodicy: error is not owed to positive imperfection According to Descartes. belief is entirely a function of the intellect (save perhaps that the will helps with attention). A malfunctionof the intellect (insofar as it contributesto judging) would occur only if the content to which I seemed to be attending. I can be mistaken LEXNEWMAN 566 . but inasmuch as numerous commentatorshave already done so ( the subject of a possible judgment. it performs without malfunction:"All that the intellect does is to enable me to perceive the ideas which are subjects for possible judgements. If.Grantingthe overall argument.(i) (ii) (b) i. privative in relation to the manufacturer. note 6 above).e.judgment results from the interplayof two subfaculties: the intellect and the will.'7 And though 16 17 There is much of philosophical interest to explore in Descartes's theory of judgment. positive imperfection. in keeping with his doctrine of the incorrigibility of the mental-a doctrine expounded in the Second and Third Meditations(see AT 7:29 and 37). purely negative imperfection. I want to locate myself (without argument) on two issues that have troubled interpreters. He then argues that God might well have an MSR for purely negative imperfection-that there might be the requisite explanation why God producedkinds so imperfect as to facilitate the misuse of will that results in error. Descartes begins with the parts. or that otherwise anticipate the eventual demonstrationof the truth criterion. and when regardedstrictlyin this light. The Fourth Meditation theodicy mirrors these concerns. its occurrenceis problematic-especially in the context of an omniperfectmanufacturer. Second.e. In an effort to forestall at least some objections. type (b) is not. Descartes first argues that judgment error results from our own misuse of will ratherthan from positive imperfection. it turnsout to contain no error in the proper sense of that term" (CSM 2:39. Type (ai) imperfection is essentially incompatible with the divine essence. I shall in general confine my discussion of the theory to those mattersthat are central to the theodicy.

AT7:59-60). the divine name.1.AT 7:47). in the range of matters understood). to pursue or avoid)" (CSM 2:40. that(3) enjoysno divineguaranteeBearin mind. is essential: somesuchlimitation As themeditator backin theThird Meditation. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 567 . AT 7:56-57). 2. or deny. In short. "I think it is very noteworthy that there is nothing else in me which is so perfect and so great that the possibility of a furtherincrease in its perfection (CSM 2:39. (insofar In context. per se.I recognizethatit will never "evenif my knowledge alwaysincreases of a further be infinite.I simplyrefrain and thenit is clearthatI am behaving correctly truthwith sufficient clarityanddistinctness.e. indeed. in an effortto showthatourfacultiesof judging error-avoiding rule. in a negative sense" (CSM 2:39. be said that I am deprived privatess] of these ideas. moreandmore. is advanced as we'reawareof it) canbe avoidedif thaterror haveno positiveimperfection. AT 7:56). as to the truth of the content to thatcontent. though the intellect may fail. Says the meditator.) Rather.But if in suchcases I eitheraffirm avoiding correctly (CSM2:41.this consequence is neededin orderto clear we use ourfacultiescorrectly. however. or greatness is beyond my understanding" "the will simply consists in our ability to do or not do something (that is. to affirm or deny. strictly speaking.I extendits use to thanthatof the (3). Errorresults from misuse of the will. and on this count Descartes thinks there is the least room for dispute. Granting that neither the intellect nor the will is positively imperfect when considered in isolation. evidence of positive as opposed to purely negative imperfection. but merely that I lack them. sinceit will neverreachthe pointwhereit is not capable actually increase" (CSM2:32. and Descartes thinks he establishes a set of instructionsfor thisstageof theFourth Meditation. in that "countless things may exist without there being any correspondingideas in me. AT 7:57)-an ability that Descartes thinks is unassailable.thenI am not usingmy free will error. of my mistakes? It mustbe simplythis:thescopeof thewill is wider So whatthenis thesource butinstead of restricting it withinthe in scope (i. in Section fromtheological it has not beenderived (Thiswill proveimportant premises. it should not. this limitation is not. The will is also found to be without positive imperfection. is under This of thedivineessencewitherror thecompatibility investigation. it remains to be shown that there is no such defect in the design of theircooperation.'9 18 1 I amattending butnotas to whether to whichI amattending. matters whichI do notunderstand (CSM2:40.AT7:58). observes.' As the meditator thus concludes. At issue is whether this scope disparity is a positive imperfection as would rendererrorunavoidable: in cases whereI do not perceivethe frommakinga judgement If.

2" And given (3).) But though the success of the larger anti-skeptical project requires that Descartes address this hypothetical category of error (prompted by metaphysical doubt). for which the will and the intellect were designed. Discussions concerning whether a thing is positively imperfect inevitably presuppose a final cause-some telos for which it was designed. the (comparatively subtle) Fourth Meditation inquiry yields what amounts to the same result.The privation. For all the meditatoryet knows (at this stage of the Meditations).but that it "tendtowards the truth"on those occasions "when we use it correctly"(CSM 2:103. lies in the operationof the will in so far as it proceeds from me.e. I say. It is somewhat unclear how strong an argument Descartes thinks he has advanced. even if such error would escape his detection-indeed his comprehension. and concerning which they are positively imperfect.1. (CSM 2:41. Yet. but not in the faculty of will which I received from God. AT 8a:19) 20 21 22 23 Since.(3) I am using my faculty of judging in the correct manner (so as to ensure the avoidance of error)if and only if I withhold assent except when my perceptionof a matteris clear and distinct. 568 LEX NEWMAN . that precise error by which one generates the reductio discussed in Section 1. Descartes need only show that they are not positively imperfect to this extent. AT 7:144). (Bear in mind that the results of the Third Meditation theistic argumentsintended to subdue such metaphysical doubts (at least. For his present purposes. indeed.23 What follows from God's essence is not that the faculty of judging is uniformly inerrant.21 thinks Descartes. there may be some other end. apart from judgment. we're able to exercise the ability to withhold assent on exactly those occasions when our perception is not clear and distinct. Newman 1994). there is no evidence that our composite faculty of judging is positively imperfect since it does not malfunction when erroris avoided when we withhold assent in the prescribed used correctly. the meditatorhas not yet ruled out the possibility that within him occur a variety of mental operations(perhapsinvolving the will or the intellect) of which he is unaware (cf. To wit (and this is alluded to at AT 7:59). this need not concern Descartes. in so far as it depends on him. Invoking a common-sense foundationalism (inspired by an architectural metaphor). he may be in erroreven on those occasions when his perception of a matter is clear and distinct. the prescriptionin (3) entails that we should withhold assent whenever we can. the First Meditation meditator concludes that he ought to "hold back [his] assent from opinions which are not completely certain and indubitable"(CSM 2:12. where motivated by the Deceiver Hypothesis) are on hold. The meditator'sworking presumption is that his intellect and will were designed for the purpose of error-freejudgment. cf. Since the specific worry under consideration (without which a theodicy would be unnecessary) concerns whether the faculties of judging are positively imperfect insofar as they result in judgment error. for all he knows. AT 7:60. In this incorrect use of free will may be found the privation which constitutes the essence formalm] of error. pending the outcome of the theodicy. I am correctly using my faculty of judging exactly when I follow the Method of Doubt. nor even in its operation. in support of (3)-whether he intends that it is clearly and distinctly established.22 manner. the only category of error that the present stage of the theodicy need address is discernible error-i. according to Descartes. however. or instead that it rests on an argumentto the best explanation. at this stage of the Meditations. AT 7:18). at this juncture.

done better. Part two of the theodicy: God might have an MSRfor allowing error It remains to be shown whether God has an MSR for having produced such an imperfect kind of creature-one so prone towards error. note 18). AT 7:60). Again. but it is a fault if. The response to this residual worry comes below. a claim that can be taken to mean that to limit the will's scope would be to deprive it of a perfection it should naturallypossess (renderingit positively imperfect). ipso facto the will a less perfectkind. Since erroris avoided with correctuse. A passage from Gassendiis suggestive: It is certainly no fault in a workmanif he does not trouble to make an enormous key to open a tiny box. an omniperfect creator would have no MSR for not doing so.Were the faculty of judging incapableof being misused it might be a more perfect kind. AT 7:60). in accordancewith (3). does not yet dischargethe worry that there is some minimum degree of perfection below which an omniperfect creator would have no MSR. The supposition results in the absurd (though formally consistent) claim that there would be no MSR regardless of how perfect an intellect were produced: no matterhow wide its scope.4. and thus should have. Had God limited its scope. AT 7:60). is that it is a perfect instance-that it is not positively imperfect. Descartes thinkshe's met the burden. Descartes expounds his case by rejoining likely objections. of course. namely one with wider scope (therebylimiting the scope disparitybetween the intellect and the will). and it is in the natureof a created intellect to be finite" (CSM 2:42. but all Descartes needs to show. in this first stage of the theodicy. in making the key small. it seems that God could have. Since we could have been endowed with a more perfect kind of intellect. The first objection concerns the scope of the intellect. "it is in the nature of a finite intellect to lack understandingof many things. This. a yet wider scope would remainpossible (cf. he gives it a shape which makes it difficult 24 Descartes can also be read as offering the stronger reply that any limitation in the will's scope would renderit an imperfect instance: he writes that "it seems that its naturerules out the possibility of anything being taken away from it" (CSM 2:42. Some kinds seem so repugnantas to have no MSR. is there "cause for complaint on the grounds that God gave me a will which extends more widely than my intellect" (CSM 2:42.24 would have been rendered The final line of objection concerns the intellect-will composite. 1. Descartes's rebuttalis perhapstoo brief. but I think it is best read as a reductio on the critic's supposition that God would have no MSR for creating a kind of intellect with less-wide scope than is otherwise possible. the candidates for consideration are the parts and their composition. In view of our aptitude to err. albeit owed entirely to purely negative defect.moving to the next objection. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 569 . "Nor".

God brought things into existence so that his goodness might be communicatedto creaturesand reenacted through them. he produced many and diverse.perhaps. it "meansthat there is in a sense more perfectionin me than would be the case if I lacked this ability" (CSM 2:42.1) As such.confused and inadequateeven for the few matterswhich he did want us to decide upon.26 the principle of organic unities-a principle that 25 26 As does Calvert (1972). I should nonetheless never make a mistake. Says Thomas.for goodness.47. He could. On this account. Similarly. as to include even error-prone kinds. (CSM 2:218. I want to clarify two lines of response that he does not offer but both of which provide a somewhat tempting reading of the texts. Accordingly. AT 7:60-61).(CSM 2:42. The meditator's remarkthat. might be thought to show that freewill is supposed to provide God the MSR for producing errantcreatures. God is admittedly not to be blamed for giving puny man a faculty of judging that is too small to cope with everything. AT 7:61) It is also tempting to read Descartes as appealing to the principle of plenitude. One that finds expression in Plato (cf. error is taken as a necessary concomitant of genuine freewill. thus providingthe MSR for the creation of our world. AT 7:314) Before considering Descartes's reply. the Laws bk. (ST la. benefits from an especially fine-grainedcontinuitybetween createdkinds. or he could simply have impressed it unforgettablyon my memory that I should never make a judgement about anything which I did not clearly and distinctly understand.25 especially in view of the popularityof plenitudeaccounts amongst the medieval. God augmentedthe variety in creation precisely in orderto augmentthe good of the creationas a whole. 10) and is developed by the medievals for purposes of theodicy. for example. he appeals to anotherinheriteddoctrine. but this still leaves room to wonderwhy he gave man a faculty which is uncertain. And because one single creature was not enough. Descartes's actualreply involves neitheran appealto freewill nor to plenitude-though I have yet to justify the latter claim. and despite the limitations in my knowledge. in creaturesis multiple and scattered. yet Descartesconcedes the contrary: I can see. so fine-grained. the perfection of the creation. 570 LEX NEWMAN . which in God is single and all together. as a whole. have endowed my intellect with a clear and distinct perception of everything about which I was ever likely to deliberate. that God could easily have brought it about that without losing my freedom.or impossible to open the box. however. so that what was wanting in one expression of the divine goodness might be supplied by another. Hence the whole universe less incompletely than one alone shares and represents his goodness. in having freewill. Instead. or even with most things or the most importantthings.

for all we know. The textual consideration stems from a remark to a correspondent (2 May 1644) concerning the Fourth Meditation account: "I do not know that I laid it down that God always does what he knows to be the most perfect. the creation-as a whole-is more perfect in virtue of our faculties of judging being a less perfect kind." (ST la. according to Thomas. God has an MSR for producingerrant kinds. urges Descartes. or his own doctrines.27 Says the rather than that it rendersthe world most perfect. This is consistent with Descartes's practice of using the voice of his meditator-spokesperson to express all mannerof views-whether those he means to debunk. The doctrinalconsiderationis this: it is plausible to suppose that Descartes rejects that the notion of a most perfect world is coherent.2). though he has really distributed the appropriate colours to every place" (Enneads 111. since if one makes the opposite assumption. AT 4:113). E.allows that the good of a whole may be enhancedby decreases in the perfection of its parts... In one of Moore's formulations. AT 7:61). as in the present case.25. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 571 . That whole composed of the universe of creaturesis the better and more complete for including some things which can and do on occasion fall from goodness without God preventingit.11. since doing so renders the world more perfect (major perfectio. that for any given world-qua set of parts-there is a most perfect ordering (cf.21 (CSM 2:42-43. Arguably. According to Plotinus. in view of the similaritybetween his principle and Descartes's. the principle is defined as the thesis "thatthe intrinsic value of a whole is neither identical with nor proportionalto the sum of the values of its parts"(1988. and for each partas subservingthe whole. however. that-for all we know-God may have an MSR for bringing about any arbitraryworld absent positive imperfection.44. also 111.2) Notwithstanding the account of the Fourth Meditation (in which the meditator says that "thereis no doubt that [God] always wills what is best" (CSM 2:38. For a helpful discussion of Thomas' view.48.6). instead. views he means to assume for the sake of argument. His Third Meditation discussion of the intellect commits him to the doctrine that a most perfect created intellect is incoherent (see note 18 above).. 184).e. But I tried to solve the difficulty in question. Notice too that Descartes's actual Fourth Meditation appeal to organic unities commits him to nothing strongerthan that.then I can easily understandthat. or.1.2.. such a world-qua most perfect set of particulars/parts-is incoherent. yet not in isolation . see Kretzmann(1991). Had God made me this way [inerrant]. I take talk of "parts" to apply not only to local hunks of being but also to local distributionsof being. Thomas does allow. "we are like people who know nothing about the art of painting and criticise the painterbecause the colours are not beautiful everywhere.29 To the extent that the principle of plenitude allows that decreases in the perfection of parts (i. of kinds in the parts) may add to the perfection of a 27 28 29 In terminology I borrow from G.2. AT 7:55)). Descartes holds the same with regard to a most perfect created world. I would have been more perfect than I am now. Indeed. ST la. on the assumption that God had made the world most perfect. the difficulty disappears altogether" (CSMK 232. there are both textual and doctrinal reasons to suppose that Descartes rejects the principle of the best (vis-ei-vis the kind of world to actualize). about the cause of error. considered as a totality. But I cannot thereforedeny that there may in some way be more perfection in the universe as a whole because some of its parts are not immune from error .3). and it does not seem to me that a finite mind can judge of that.Thomas adds: "God and nature and any agent do what is better for the whole. that he holds. Moore. since there is infinite distance (as it were) between God and any possible creature (Scriptum super Sententias. 1. AT 7:61) For all we know..

creaturelyperspective. According to the logical problem. b. his argumentunderminesthe claim in (2) on which the problem of error (as characterizedin the First Meditation) is based. I believe the objectionis unfounded. Cf. and d. 28).5. On the solution side. our world is better than it would otherwise be.30 But Descartes's appeal to organic unities allows that such increases in the perfection of the whole might be explained even where the comparatively imperfect parts displace otherwise existing parts. b. and c. is less perfect than world Wr. the Method of Doubt requiresthat Descartes produce a decisive argumentshowing that the creatordoes have the whose second stage turns on the claim that. First. and d."weak"theodiciespropose. Burdenof proof Given my account. instead. the principle of plenitude explains increasesin the perfectionof a whole-as are owed to decreases in the parts-only in ceteris paribus contexts in which the comparatively imperfect parts are added to the whole (without displacing existing parts). Rather. This is the version of 30 31 For example. that we cannot rule out there being some such MSR. the principle of plenitude provides an explanation of why world W. b.31On the problem it would seem. and c) and a world W". with partsa. the meditator cannot accept a theodicy as dubious as that which I have reconstructed. 1. our world is better (with error)than it would otherwise be. We have now seen both parts of Descartes's FourthMeditationtheodicy. it is similar to the principle of organic unities (as invoked by Descartes). b. But it is not applicable to comparisons between the same world W (with parts a. Descartes's theodicy may seem inconsonant with the Method of Doubt. the problem is far worse: for all we could know.with partsa. Grantingthat both stages succeed. c. 572 LEX NEWMAN . According to the objection I have in mind. but there are importantdifferences.whole. Plantinga's distinction between a theodicy for evil and a defense of evil (1974. God has an MSR for having created our world. for all we know. (what I am calling) "strong"theodicies rest on a specific proposalfor an MSR that would explain the occurrenceof errorin the actualworld.the occurrenceof erroris logically incompatible with the existence of an omniperfect creator-thus providing for a demonstrationof the impossibility of God's existence. though the principle of plenitude provides an a priori explanationas to why a world is more perfect with the addition of errant kinds than without (ceteris paribus). the worry may be formulatedas a logical or an evidential problem. The problem of error (and of evil in general) and the effort at solving it both come in strongerand weaker versions. with parts a. Indeed.but I shall have to introducea pair of distinctionsto make my case. Second. given our essentially finite. Descartes's applicationof organic unities turns on an appeal to human ignorance:for all we know.

In view of the epistemic characterof the appeal to organic unities. when not attending to it) until furtherinquiry can resolve the tension in supposing an omniperfect creator of a world with error. Suppose Descartes had taken a weak epistemic stance when he confronted the possibility of our faculties having positive imperfection. a successful weak theodicy is sufficient to thwart the logical problem: successfully making the case that. and (1) depends on being able to establish a species of errorwith which the divine essence is incompatible. for all we know. According to the evidential problem.and is governed. our cognitive faculties have no positive imperfection. Theprivation-negationdistinctionand ?-type circumstances I claimed. is enough to force the meditatorto suspendjudgment concerning the Third Meditation demonstration (i. 192ff). vis-a-vis the possibility of our having positive imperfection.6. On the problem side. God has an MSR justifying the productionof crea32 Adams and Adams (1990. the evidential problem does no damof p is not undermined age-a successful demonstration by a merely probable argument that not-p. cf.are requisiteto the constructivephase of his theistic epistemology.. for all we know. God would be a deceiver. at the outset. the existence of an omniperfectbeing. however. that Descartes needs to establish the following: (1) If I should be in error in ?-type circumstances. the only species of imperfection that Descartes could rule out as incompatible with the divine essence is positive imperfection. only the logical problem could have any force: on the heels of the Third Meditation in which Descartes purportsto establish. suppose he had argued (nothing stronger than) that.omniscient. Pike (1963.e.the problem that Descartes introduces in the First Meditation. The logical problem. The theistic steps in the epistemological programdepend on (1). with demonstrativecertainty. We are now in position to make headway in understanding?-type circumstances-a result we'll need in the subsequenteffort to reconstructthe proof of a criterionof truth. For instance. or that. "even if it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for creating the sort of world we experience . Descartes's rather tortuous explanatorymoves. On the solution side.. the facts of evil constituteevidence againstthe hypothesis thatthe world was created.perfectly good God. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 573 . for all we know. there is no inconsistencybetweenerrorand the divine essence discreditsthe claim that we know there to be one. Indeed. 1. it is sufficient that Descartes offers a weak theodicy in response to the logical problem. 16)."32 In the context of the Meditations. by an omnipotent.

the theodicy provides steps that are essential to the demonstrationof the C&D Rule. would be a deceiver. He would be unable to rule out the possibility that God is compatiblewith all mannerof judgmenterror. In both cases.1.tures with positive imperfection. The criterion of truth Descartes's most famous formulationof a truthcriterionis in terms of clarity and distinctness. Descartes thinks that his Fourth Meditation results "need to be known both in orderto confirmwhat has gone before and also to make intelligible what is to come later" (CSM 2:11. my defense of a numberof theses will emerge: the conclusion that the C&D Rule is divinely guaranteedis not drawn until the last paragraphof the FourthMeditation. one that helps explain central Sixth Meditationinferences. As Section 2 unfolds. As we've now seen. the Fourth Meditation theodicy is needed to reconcile an apparentcontradictionresultingfrom the ThirdMeditationproof of God. I want now to turnto thatpart of Descartes's project.Had Descartes made such an argument. (1) must be understoodin termsof positive imperfection. 2. Whya further argument for the C&D Rule is needed Two passages might tempt one to suppose that Descartes intends to establish the C&D Rule at an earlierpoint than the last paragraph of the FourthMeditation. and the C&D Rule rests on a yet more fundamentaltruth rule. AT 7:15). in connection with (1) and (4). who is omnipotentand omniscient. It is also needed to make sense of Descartes's appeals to God as no deceiver. We have yet to cash-in the notion of a ?-type circumstancefor a truthcriterionspecified in terms of clarity and distinctness. every claim to knowledge (scientia) in the Meditations rests on (1).33 Because of (4).he'd be unable to establish (1). As I noted at the outset. and I shall hereafter refer to this criterion as the "C&D Rule".Ourinterpretiveprincithe argument. (4). all such knowledge claims must be understoodin terms of positive imperfection. if the meditator's assent to p were to result in error) only in circumstances in which positive imperfection in the meditator's faculty of judging would contributeto such error." 574 LEX NEWMAN .And since.e. An interpretive principlethus emerges: (4) Descartes assertsthat God would be a deceiver if p were false (i. in the final analysis. the theistic component of his epistemology would be stillborn. ple. an argumentin supportof a criterionof clarity and dis33 I am assuming that expressions such as "God would be a deceiver" are typically elliptical for some such as "God. will prove especially fruitfulin reconstructing 2. In turn.

36 concerningthe status of the generalrule (the C&D Rule). Cf. Bennett (1990.he respondswith a Fourth Meditation line of argument(reconstructedbelow."very simple and matters intuited "utterlyclearly"-those thatfall under the straightforward" C&D Rule. in context. It is then discovered (two paragraphslater) that.tinctness is advanced. Descartes is claiming not that the Deceiver Hypothesis (and equivalent doubts) provides the only reason for doubting the credibility of the C&D Rule. . Yet the express ground for the overly optimistic conjecture. So I now seem to be able to lay it down as a general rule that whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true.. The conjecture rests instead on a hasty generalization from one instance-an induction insufficient to establish the C&D Rule even subsequent to refutation of the Deceiver 34 35 36 Cf. he explicitly states that the C&D Rule is established in the Fourth Meditation (AT 7:15). but that it provides the only reason for doubting the credibility of the particular. as "forexample that two and three added togethermake five. this would not be enough to make me certain of the truthof the matterif it could ever turn out that something which I perceived with such clarity and distinctness was false. There are serious problems with this account. Nor does he avail himself of the cogito-derivedaccount. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 575 .34 account. barringthe discovery of a doubt that defeats its credibility.35" (93). jam videor pro reguld general posse statuere . AT 7:36). AT 7:35) with an eye towardsthe followMany commentatorsfocus on this passage. The problem with the cogito-derived account is that.rather. though the Deceiver Hypothesis does undermine the C&D Rule. it is the only sceptical hypothesis that provides any reason for doubt. Descartes in no way alludes to the cogito-derived account.but in neithercase does the argumentyield the desideratum.)The meditator's(above) ing account.3) that is in no way derivativeof the above ThirdMeditationpassage.. The firstpassage occurs early in the ThirdMeditation: I am certain that I am a thinking thing. 91ff). and so on" (CSM 2:25. (CSM 2:24. note 4 (above) for references to secondary literaturein which this passage is treated. subsequent to refuting the Deceiver Hypothesis (later in the Third Meditation). is not that it is perceived clearly and distinctly.(Call this the "cogito-derived" reflections on clarity and distinctness-as the epistemic ground of the cogito-are intended to establish that the C&D Rule is credible.35 when synopsizing his own case for the C&D Rule. Do I not therefore also know what is required for my being certain about anything? In this first item of knowledge cognitionn] there is simply a clear and distinct perception of what I am asserting.when pressedby the second objectors as to the veracityof clear and distinctperception. Thus. not the least being that. instead. in Section 2. who considers and rejects a series of (what he characterizes as) "disastersfor the derivationof the truthrule on AT 7. the unconditionalcredibility of the C&D Rule is thereby established.

The above Third Meditation passage seems best read as intended to suggest the criterionthat will emerge as the eventual markof the truth-if anythingwill. mattersthat are in the least respect doubtful. are those advanced in the First Meditation. AT 7:144).as if false. 178-79). The temptationis to suppose that (3) just is the desired C&D Rule. in context. Laterin the FourthMeditation (given the interpretation I am defending). (Recall (2) from Section 1. those whereby all erroris assumed to be incompatible with an omniperfect deity.(3) is advancedfor theodicianpurposein an effort to vindicatethat God is a possible being (cf.39But given the cogito-derivedaccount.Descartesagain advancesa proof for a truth 37 38 39 Indeed. 188). AT 7:65).Hypothesis. Descartes purportsto ground the C&D Rule in a divine guarantee:he thinks he shows that the divine essence is incompatible with our being in error when we're relying on the C&D Rule (cf. The second temptingpassage is one we have alreadyconsidered(in Section 1. the argumentfrom which (3) derives cancould not) have a divine guarantee: not be representedas drawing in any way on the divine essence.37 But in view of the constraint (imposed by the Method of Doubt) to regard. AT 7:13). note 19 above). this early Third Meditation passage is consistent with the coherentist interpretation of Frankfurt(he offers a cogito-derived account) who writes: "Descartes's reasoning in the Meditations is designed not so much to prove that what is clearly and distinctly perceived is true.) As such.1. the burden of a charitableinterpretation-a burdenthat cogito-derived accounts fail to meet-is to show how the meditatorarrives at clarity and distinctness of the C&D Rule. By the time of the Fifth Meditation.3). 576 LEX NEWMAN . the rule for correctjudging: (3) I am using my faculty of judging in the correct manner (so as to ensure the avoidance of error)if and only if I withhold assent except when my perceptionof a matteris clear and distinct. Williams's discussion (1978. to the contrary. No wonder Descartes says that "it was not possible to prove [the C&D Rule] before the Fourth Meditation"(CSM 2:9. It occurs in the FourthMeditationwhere Descartes advances (3). as to establish that there are no reasonable grounds for doubting this" (1970. a reading that has the benefit of putting the proof of the C&D Rule in the Fourth Meditation.on the topic of the incompatibilityof the divine essence with error. Descartes claims to have "amply demonstrated"the C&D Rule (CSM 2:45.The problemfor this account is that (3) does not (and. the only results that the meditatorcould draw prior to the FourthMeditationare either that we never err (thus renderingsuperfluous the C&D Rule) or that the divine essence eventually will be established as compatible with all mannerof error(thus ruiningthe C&D Rule).38Moreover.the only premises available to the meditator. Cf.

here.the argumentamounts to the following (the letteringof the steps correlateswith the text markersabove): (C) Every clear and distinct perception has positive being and hence comes from God. the meditator'svery next step is to offer the following argument(in the last paragraph of the FourthMeditation): [A] The cause of error must surely be the one I have explained. I restrain my will so that it extends to what the intellect clearly and distinctly reveals. (CSM 2:43. And the most obvious candidate for an implied premise is a claim that Descartes surely rejects. hence [B] the perceptionis undoubtedlytrue.and the effort to which I now turn. is to uncover the missing premise(s)needed to completethis argument.[(B)] First. AT 7:62. It is this latereffort thatDescartesintends to producethe requisitedivine guarantee. 40 41 42 The French. I shall assume that all such talk of clearly and distinctly perceivable concept containment/exclusion is translatable into talk about the truth of propositional contents. reads "something real and positive" (quelque chose de reel et de positft). rather than the truth of propositional contents. (B) simply does not follow from (C) and (D). notice that the argumentfor (B) is surely an enthymeme. for [B] if. namely: If a perception has positive being. roughly. This is because [C] every clear and distinct perception is undoubtedly something [est aliquid. to perceive X is. thenp is true. (D) God is not a deceiver. and hence comes from God. AT 7:65. the con- THE FOURTHMEDITATION 577 . and 115-16). Its author. As stated. and [D] who cannot be a deceiver on pain of contradiction. whenever I have to make a judgement. since God is no deceiver.42 My primary aim. (D)] (A) The earlierexplanation(thatwhich led to (3)) of the cause of erroris correct.1): Descartes distinguishesthe argumentin supportof (3) from that in supportof (B) (the C&D Rule). then. Some of Descartes's formulations of the C&D Rule suggest that what is guaranteed is concept containment/exclusion (cf.rule. (B) If I clearly and distinctlyperceive thatp. Also. The explicit Fourth Meditationproof of the C&D Rule With theodicy in hand. is God. in Section 2. propositions. Descartes uses "perceive"/perception" (percipiolperceptio) with much wider scope than is the currentpractice in philosophy: for Descartes.4() andhence cannot come from nothing.2. 2. and no further. notice that the inference from (B) to (A) confirms my earlier claim (in Section 2. but must necessarily have God for its author. and as such. the proof of (B) reinforcesthe explanation on which (3) is based.78. Second. to be aware of X.sensory qualia.41 [(C). text markersadded) Assuming the passage non-enthymematic. the objects of perception may include concepts. I say. or the like. who is supremely perfect.then it is quite impossible for me to go wrong.3.

3.e. at least when we use it correctly (that is.[(5). [B'.(9)] tent perceived is true. [C'] Now everything real which is in us must have been bestowed on us by God (this was proved when his existence was proved). Descartes offers remarks strikingly similar to those in the last paragraph of the Fourth Meditation (I have marked the similarities with primedtext markers): [D'] Since God is the supreme being. Descartes must reject this. [C'] It is impossible that my faculty of judging has positive imperfection. [D'] It is impossible that any faculty bestowed on me by God has positive imperfection.2. accordingto the only account of correctuse that can be imagined). there are supplementalremarks:the content of the D' passages goes beyond that in D. AT 7:144) Along with the similarities. [B'] Hence this faculty must tend towards the truth. by assenting only to what we clearly and distinctly perceive. (CSM 2:103. Patching-up the proof with some helpfrom the Second Replies and (4) While responding to concerns (voiced by the second objectors) about the C&D Rule. since God gave it to us. D'] My faculty of judging has been bestowed on me by God. and B' includes more than B. D'] (7) (8) (9) (10) I am not in error when using my faculty of judging in the correct manner(i. since every perception (qua mode of mind) has positive being-no matterhow obscure and confused.e. As I shall argue. we have a real faculty for recognizing the truthand distinguishing it from falsehood.[(8). he would rightly have to be regardedas a deceiver. he must also be supremely good and true. I reconstructthe argumentfrom the above Second Replies passage as follows: (5) (6) God exists [as omnipotentand omniscient]and is no deceiver. [D'] For if it did not so tend then. 578 LEXNEWMAN .then my faculty of judging would have positive imperfection. for no other correct method of employing this faculty can be imagined [fingi potest]). moreover. accordingto the only account of correctuse that can be imagined). when the work of the theodicy is taken into consideration the enthymematic Fourth Meditation passage is best read as containing these supplementalremarksimplicitly. [(6). as is clear merely from the fact that we have within us ideas of truthand falsehood. and it would therefore be a contradiction that anything should be created by him which positively tends towards falsehood.(7)] Were I in error when using my faculty of judging in the correct manner(i.

who is supremely perfect.hence the perceptionis undoubtedly true. but must necessarily have God for its author. since myfaculty of judging would be positively imperfect]. Descartes must be understood as invoking the notion of positive imperfection. (9). AT 7:62) THE FOURTHMEDITATION 579 . In Section 2. both of which are available to the meditator subsequentto the theodicy which vindicatesthe divine essence. Its author. whenever I have to make a judgement. according to the only account of correct use that can be imagined) if and only if I withhold assent except when my perception of a matter is clear anddistinct.6) explains why (9) is implied by D' and B': in such passages. (CSM 2:43. B'] (12) I am not in errorif I withhold assent except when my perception of a matteris clear and distinct.(5) and (7) are results of Third Meditation arguments. aln account that suggests the correct-use rule in (3)]. B'] The inferencesto (8). Since all of the supplementalremarksderive from the theodicy. and (11).And in doing so. I say. and hence cannot come from nothing. I'll note only that I am preservingthe awkwardness of Descartes's own remarks(see the second parentheticalclause in the block quote above). I thus propose we read that problematic FourthMeditationpassage as follows: The cause of error must surely be the one I have explained [viz. [(10). they are naturalcandidatesfor implicit premises to read into the argumentof the probof the Fourth lematic (enthymematic)passage occurringin the final paragraph Meditation. is God. for now. for if. The interpretiveprinciplein (4) (discussed in Section 1. This is because every clear and distinct perception is undoubtedly something. and (12).[(3). and who cannot be a deceiver on pain of contradiction [though an otherwise omniperfect creator surely would be a deceiver were I in error in such circumstances. the explanation based on the scope disparity. I'll returnto the matterof why Descartes thinks (9) is true and the importanceof the awkwardparentheticalclause appearingin (9). and (11). that which exceeds the explicit remarksof the enthymematicFourthMeditationpassage) is expressed in (6).e. The incompatibility of positive imperfectionwith the divine essence explains the inference from (5) to (6). (10). (9). are trivial.(11). The supplemental content of the Second Replies text (viz. That leaves (6). (10).And (11) is none other than a more precise formulationof (3) (itself advancedas partof the effort at theodicy). and no further.4. And each of these claims is elucidated by consideration of the theodicy of the FourthMeditation.(11) I am using my faculty of judging in the correct manner(i. I restrain my will so that it extends to what the intellect clearly and distinctly reveals. and (11) to be explained.then it is quite impossible for me to go wrong. the argumentthere exactly parallelsthat which I have reconstructedin (5) thru (12).

I shall hereafterrefer to this more fundamentaltruthrule as the Inclination-Without-Correction Rule (IWC Rule) which I formulate as follows: (13) p is true. On my account. conditions (i) and (ii) are. we're occasionally deceived even concerning matters that we perceive clearly and distinctly. indeed. in context. given our interpretative principle. "theone I have explained". continue the objectors. or a father his children. that the FourthMeditation demonstrationof the C&D Rule falls neatly into place.The first interpolationis intendedto capturelines (3) and (11). In this case. must the appeal to God as no deceiver be understood in terms of positive imperfection. "thereis frequent deception though it is always employed beneficially and with wisdom. AT 7:126) The objection is especially serious. for all Descartes has shown.including knowledge of the C&D Rule itself. thus helping to clarify the groundof (9). (4). since the cause of error(as proposed in (3)/(11)) is. Descartes's reply to his objectors helps clarify some aspect of the Meditations that would otherwise remain obscure. I want to pursue Descartes's reasons for accepting it-a pursuitthat will suggest a more fundamentalrule of truthon which Descartes is leaning. since the real possibility that God would resort to such deception is fatal to Descartes's epistemology (cf."In such cases. Section 1.6 above). Descartes draws an analogy between his efforts (in the FourthMeditation) to reconcile deception relative to judgment and his efforts (in the Sixth 580 LEX NEWMAN .The second interpolation is intended to capturelines (6) and (9).if I clearly and distinctlyperceive that: (i) I am positively inclined to assent to p. and (ii) I have no faculty/capacityfor correctionby which I could ascertain that not-p. the text must be read this way. the ?-type circumstances that (togetherwith appeals to the divine essence) groundall positive knowledge claims in the Meditations. 2. it turns out. at bottom. As often occurs. in effect. as the meditatorsays. upon taking into considerationthe work of the theodicy. In the reply. the response sheds light on the precise circumstancesunder which he thinks positive imperfectionoccurs.4. that Descartes fails to establish a divine guaranteeof the C&D Rule because he does not rule out the possibility that God might "treatmen as a doctor treats the sick. (CSM 2:90. (12) entails the C&D Rule. Since. In the very same Second Replies passage from which (5) thru (12) is taken." And thus. Themorefundamentaltruthcriterionto whichDescartes appeals Returning to (9). Descartes appeals to the IWC Rule while defending the C&D Rule. God might likewise employ deception-perhaps. The context is this. The second objectors complain. then.

the divine essence is compatible with our having positive (and thus God-given) yet misleading inclinations-a claim that is somewhat surprising. and yet. in the other.and this is the basis of the IWC Rule (statedin (13)). as 43 44 Descartes uses a variety of expressions when referring to what I am calling a positive inclination:in the ThirdMeditationhe refers to "naturalimpulses" (impetus naturales) by which one may have been "pushed"or "impelled" (fuisse impulsum) (AT 7:39). an "inclination"or "propensity" in the will (propensio in voluntate) (AT 7:59). we're typically inclined to suppose that objects are just as they seem in sensory experience: the tendency is to suppose. ordinarydoctors resortto deception (e. God does allow that we are sometimes deceived. One is in us qua humanbeings. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 581 .g. Descartes holds that God can endow us with errantinclinations without thereby rendering us positively imperfect. the analogy helps reinforce the suspicion that an omnipotentdoctor would have no MSR for calling on deception. in ways brought out by the analogy with doctors. AT 7:59). Presumably. I distinguish two kinds of instinct. For instance.however. that they may "pull me [me trahant] in one direction" (CSM 2:41.. AT 7:82). inclinations stemming from our intellectual natureurge us towards truthfuljudging.In the absence of any means of correction. AT 2:599). towards the enjoyment of bodily pleasures. italics added). After furtherreflection. As he writes to Mersenne: "For my part. in the Fourth. . and is a certain impulse of naturetowards the preservation of our body. a "real or positive propensity"to believe (realis sive positive propensio) (AT 7:83). In both cases. to create a positive frame of mind in the patient)precisely because they lack the knowledge or the power needed to otherwise ensure proper healing. and is purely intellectual:it is the naturallight or mental vision.. I have simply made this judgement from childhood onwards without any rationalbasis" (CSM 2:57. AT 7:82). as the meditator observes. that does not mean that there is any real or positive inclination in me to believe that the star is no bigger than the light. the credibilityof the positive inclinationswith which the creatorhas endowed us are in question:43 in the one case. and being "impelled by nature" (a natural impellitur) (AT 7:84). and so on" (CSMK 140. but instead result from improper(privative) use of our faculties of reasoning and judgment-resulting "not from naturebut from a habit of making ill-consideredjudgements"(CSM 2:56. of probable conjectures. an omniperfect doctor would not want for such technology.Meditation) to reconcile deception relative to bodily behavior. the meditator adds that "althougha star has no greatereffect on my eye than the flame of a small light. Even merely probable reasoning may positively incline: the Fourth Meditation meditator remarks. so long as we're also endowed with a means for correctingsuch error. The other belongs to us qua animals.44 As Descartes argues. Principles 1:71. a "great propensity to believe" (magnam propensionem ad credenduin) (AT 7:79-80). it would renderus positively imperfect. Nonetheless. "that stars and towers and other distant bodies have the same size and shape which they present to my senses" (CSM 2:57. however. As Descartesexplains. in the Sixth. Descartes appears to hold that some of our inclinations to judge are not positive in the sense of coming from God. Since. as when a person with dropsy has "apositive impulse [impelliturpositive] to drink which derives from the natureGod has bestowed on the body in order to preserve it" (my italics). inclinations stemming from our composite nature urge us towards beneficial behavior. AT 7:83. Cf. Though the texts are somewhat unclear. however.

the distinction concerns how often God can tolerate error owed to positive imperfection-whether he can allow that positive imperfection results in error on some particular occasions. AT 7:143-44. so long as it does not generally result in error. The discussion of dropsy may seem to suggest (a). not only for noticing all the errorsto which my natureis liable. including that we're bound to be misled occasionally given our composite nature (involving mind and body). Descartes evidently thinks that a due considerationof his treatmentprovides.p. yet reading (a) allows that the faculty sometimes tends towards falsehood. AT 7:89) It is precisely this capacity to correct error that Descartes emphasizes in his defense of the C&D Rule in the context of replying to the second objectors. but also for enabling me to corrector avoid them without difficulty." And why so? The passage suggests that the IWC Rule follows from the impossibility of positive 45 There are two readings of this last claim: (a) it would be contradictorythat the faculty of judgment should generally tend towards falsehood. notwithstandingthis design limitation. (CSM 2:6 1. and I have explained why in the Sixth Meditation" (CSM 2:102. LEXNEWMAN 582 . God made sure that we're mislead on those occasions as would have the least negative impact on our overall well-being. Since God is the supreme being. to which one is inclined. "it is impossible for us to be deceived. reading (b) must be the right one: any and all positive imperfection is incompatiblewith the divine essence (as we have seen). (b) it would be contradictorythat it should tend towards falsehood on any particular occasion. since the correction. and it would therefore be a contradictionthat anything should be created by him which positively tends towards falsehood [positive tendat in falsum]. and the largercontext concerns whetherGod could allow us to be mistakenin our "clearest and most careful judgements"-judgments which are formed only if condition (i) holds. in the context of whether (a) or (b) is the correct reading. His reply establishes that he thinks this capacity for correction (which renders condition (ii) of the IWC Rule unfulfilled) distinguishes dropsy-type errorfrom the circumstancesaproposto the C&D Rule: In the case of our clearest and most careful judgements. In such cases. But this would be to confuse two different applications of the particular-generaldistinction. In the context of the discussion of dropsy. More to our present concern. the greatest help to me. Descartes intends that due consideration of his Sixth Meditation treatmentof dropsy-typeerrorestablishes a numberof relevantpoints. AT 7:143). involves the move away from a particular judgment towards a general judgment. namely where (i) and (ii) are both fulfilled). italics mine) Descartes is here leaning on the IWC Rule: condition (ii) is stated explicitly. the distinction is applied to the content. as he has his the meditatorsay.Descartes continues. he must also be supremely good and true. and that. In such cases I simply assert that it is impossible for us to be deceived. Clearly. this kind of explanation [as I offer for dropsy error] would not be possible.45(CSM 2:102-3. however. for if such judgements were false they could not be corrected by any clearer judgements or by means of any other natural faculty. "this is not inconsistentwith the goodness or veracity of God. there.

In such cases. the explanation of errormust be correct on pain of positive imperfection. given both the Method of Doubt and the FourthMeditationinquiry into the cause of error. since (as he says in the Second Replies). The awkwardparenthetical clause in (9) is plausiblyread as invoking con- ditions(i) and (ii). "no other correctmethod of employing this faculty [of judging] can be imagined" (2:103. I shall have more to say. And since the divine essence rules out the possibility of positive imperfection. Consider that there are cases in which car manufacturersare responsible for our inclinations as to the properuse of their products. Descartes offers a meta-level proof (as we've seen)-one in which the IWC Rule is applied to anotherproof (viz. it is plausible to suppose that we would judge that the car is positively imperfect. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 583 . AT 7:59). since. And Descartes thinks (ii) when they design pictorial icons for various of the car's features (e. AT 8a:33).47 Condition(i) is implied. he later adds that "pain and colour and so on are clearly and distinctly perceived when they are regardedmerely as sensations or thoughts"(CSM 1:217. (13) is a consequence. proves useful): My faculty of judging would be positively imperfect.since the FourthMeditation explanationof errorbased on the scope disparityis taken as being so persuasive. Clause (i) of the IWC Rule holds: when the perception of p is itself clear and distinct there is "a great inclination in the will" (CSM 2:41. note 20 above). emotions and appetites.. about the clarity and distinctness requirementvis-a'-viscondition (ii).namely ?-type circumstances.g. Grantingthis account." Descartes writes that "these may be clearly perceived provided we take great care in our judgements concerning them to include no more than what is strictly contained in our perception-no more than that of which we have inner awareness" (CSM 1:216. Under these circumstances. ratherthan qua rule of truth. (4).imperfection together with the following claim (again. and (ii) I have no faculty/capacityfor correctionby which I could ascertain that not-p. the appeal does not conflict with my claim that the IWC Rule is more fundamental than the C&D Rule. the IWC Rule grounds the C&D Rule in virtue of grounding (9).. is to clarity and distinctness qua rule of evidence. here. below. with instructions in the owner's manual). That appetites.46 (i) I am positively inclined to assent to p. if the icon would naturallyincline one towards error. AT 7:144). This (evidential) appeal is needed. where one should press to sound the horn). so great as to 46 47 Since the appeal.g. our interpretiveprinciple. are (according to Descartes) clearly and distinctly perceivable is established in the Principles: concerning "sensations. such as that specified in condition (i). AT 8a:32). The plausibility of (9) is-with some strain-supported by our analogy to ordinarymanufacturers. Though in reply to the second objectors. and the manufacturerprovided no means by which the errant inclination could be corrected (e.the meditator is obliged to withhold assent unless his perceptionis clear and distinct (cf. if p were false even thoughI clearly and distinctlyperceivedthat. a picture of a horn. the earlier argumentfor (3))-the C&D Rule may also be derived straightforwardly from the IWC Rule withoutappealto (3).

Clause (ii) also holds: in that the denial of a clearly and distinctly perceived p involves "manifest contradiction [repugnantiam]"48 (CSM 2:25.5. we cannot make intelligible sense of correcting such p by a clearer judgment.49 The IWC Rule warrants clear and distinct conclusions that might otherwise appear to be the result of risky inferences in which the meditatoris strayingfrom the rigorous standardsof the FourthMeditation. AT 7:36). a claim supportedboth by the translationoptions (for repugnantia) and Descartes's own examples (at AT 7:36) among which is the cogito. as to why the C&D Rule is guaranteed. The IWC Rule promises also to ground judgments stemming from less impressive inclinations.50 48 49 50 I take it that manifest repugnancy need not be understoodas involving formal contradiction. I do at least want to establish the value of the IWC Rule in explaining two of the centralargumentsthere:the argumentfor the existence of the external. and the argumentby which the meditatorpurportsto establish that he is not dreaming.e. 2. there is an apparent tension: As urged in the FourthMeditation (cf. 229-30) As I have in effect argued. line (9) (and the IWC Rule on which it rests) is implicit in the Fourth Meditation demonstrationof the C&D Rule (so I have argued). To sum up. I take Descartes to hold that the IWC Rule is epistemically prior to the C&D Rule. a scenario germane to Descartes's Sixth Meditation moves (discussed below. When pressed by the second objectors. something we perceived clearly and distinctly]. As such. Finally.5). By the Sixth MeditationDescartes's ethic of belief is considerably less Pelagian. If we gave our assent wrongly to a proposition we were merely inclined to believe (albeit very strongly). The prominence of the IWC Rule in the Sixth Meditation Though this is not the place for a detailed (and needed) treatment of Descartes's Sixth Meditation. So long as an inclination is positive. (3). not God's. in Section 2. the latter rule seems LEX NEWMAN 584 ." (1978. and 7:69). the C&D Rule can be derived from the IWC Rule. it provides a degree of epistemologicalleverage towardstruthin conjunctionwith the IWC Rule.Descartes responds with the IWC Rule.corporealworld. Nonetheless. AT 7:36. conditions (i) and (ii) might be fulfilled even where p expressed a hypothesis. since perceptions falling short of clarity and distinctness may satisfy condition (i) of the IWC Rule. Yet. Cf. Descartes's God is considerably less tolerant of misguided inclinations than Curley supposes-even resistible inclinations may (in accordance with the IWC Rule) provide the basis of correct judgment. the fault would be ours for misusing our will. one is misusing one's faculty of judging if one assents to mattersthat are less than clear and distinct.. though the IWC Rule cannot be derived from the C&D Rule. also Newman (1997). Curley writes: "In the Fourth Meditation Descartes had maintainedthat God would be a deceiver only if what we falsely believed were something we could not but believe [i. Furthermore.impose an irresistible psychological urge to assent (cf. I turn now to a brief consideration of the explanatorypower of my accountfor the Sixth Meditation. the rule for correct use). 7:65.

) But in orderto invoke the IWC Rule. (Cf. the C&D Rule does not warranta clear and distinctjudgment as to the As we are now in position to apprecorrectnessof any of the three options. to three. The meditator would have no grounds for rejecting what the later Berkeley regards as the correct alternative. Leibniz (among others) appears to think that THE FOURTHMEDITATION 51 52 585 . His subsequent perception (that which results from invoking the IWC Rule) is upgradedto clarity and distinctnessin the lattersense.(b) God. For Descartes. Descartes looks to be arguing. on the contrary."since God is not a deceiver"both (b) and (c) can be ruledout. Given that the IWC Rule licenses inferences to claims with empirical content. The C&D Rule alone does not warrant the conclusion. whether I am inclined to assent to p is something I may perceive clearly and distinctly. namely option (b). the logically possible options for an external cause of his involuntarysensory ideas: (a) actual corporealsubstance. the meditator's initial perception of p (that which is antecedent to the invocation) need only be clear and distinct in the former. the extent to which Descartes is (as the received view has it) a strong foundationalistis not at all straightforward. nor that he clearly and distinctly perceives that (b) and (c) are both incorrect. or (c) some kind of creaturedistinct from body (AT 7:79). vis-a-vis the content p. that the Sixth Meditationmeditatoris engaged in systematic abuse of his faculty of judging. even if my perception that p is itself less than clear and distinct. if we take seriously the FourthMeditationstandardof correct use. The apparenttension dissolves when one distinguishesthe psychological inclinationto assent from the content towards which one is inclined.instead. this inference should seem quite mysterious. This shortcomingwould arise in that the meditator's initial5 evidential basis for his judgment is not that he clearly and distinctly perceives that (a) is the correct option. On a plausible reading of these texts. Indeed. his basis is that he has "a great propensityto believe" that (a) is correct. Descartes's claims that the Meditations provide the foundation for his physics (cf. but not the latter sense. that the divine guaranteecould-in principle-extend to such claims. the letter to Mersenne of 28 January 1641) may well be intendedto refer to the entire project-including the a posteriori part.52 to license the formationof judgments on occasions that amount to a misuse of one's faculty of judging. corporealworld. none that would survive the Method of Doubt. note 46. As such. It would seem. In that case.Indeed. for God has given me no faculty at all for recognizing any such source for these ideas.In the final stage of his Sixth Meditationargumentfor the existence of an external. Suppose the meditatorwere (somehow) able to avail himself of the C&D Rule in absence of the underlyingFourthMeditationprinciples I am attributingto Descartes. AT 7:79-80) For those readersexpecting Descartes to eliminate the incorrectoptions by an express appeal to the C&D Rule. he has given me a great propensity to believe that they are produced by corporeal things. the meditatorreduces. there would be no basis for eliminating options (b) or (c)-at least. in Principles 3:43-44 and 4:205-6. where I distinguish between the meditator'sinitial and subsequentperceptionof p. says the meditator. I mean to use 'initial' in the same sense as I do in note 50. (CSM 2:55. But. of the a posteriori part of his physics. the respect in which Descartes thinks his a posteriori account falls short of the requisite rigor concerns condition (ii) of the IWC Rule.

. As noted earlier (cf. or from some other agent. for some weighty reasons. Descartes's solution to the dreamingproblem is thought to rest (solely) on a continuitytest: since continuitywith past experiences holds only for one's waking experiences but not one's dreamexperiences.54 Turningour attentionto the end of the Sixth Meditation.. They do not come from God. AT 7:89-90) On this account. AT 7:30). he permits other evils. checking for the requisitecontinuityprovides a means for knowing that one is awake. and Descartes's effort to solve the dreamingproblem.. therefore they come from the things themselves." (1965. this otherwise mysteriousinference is renderedintelligible if construed as an appeal to conditions (i) and (ii) of the IWC Rule. note 44). these claims provide the basis for the judgment that (a) is the correctoption. LEX NEWMAN 53 54 586 . On this reading.forgot to prove. But when I distinctly see where things come from and where and when they come to me. . It may be answered that the sensations may come from an agent other than God. condition (i) of the IWC Rule is unfulfilled where p expresses such claims as. my italics) It is by no means clear that Descartes is entitled to assert this "great propensity to believe" option (a). the IWC Rule again explains the inferential work. therefore. Together. for just as. Given Descartes's brand of representationalrealism in connection with standardmechanist doctrines (which he endorses). that stars have the same relative size as they seem. in that dreams are never linked by memory with all the other actions of life as waking experiences are. it is crucial that the divine essence turn out compatible with ubiquitousbut erroneousjudgments to the effect that the real qualities of bodies are just as they seem in sensory experience. which therefore must exist. these sensations come to us either from God. Descartes can be read as denying that such inclinations (as to suppose that objects are as they seem) are genuinely positive inclinations. (CSM 2:61-62. Even barringthis interpretation.g. is supposed to show that "none of the features" (presumably. Descartes is offering a wholly naturalisticsolution to the problem of dreaming. that apples are red just as they seem. e. On a standardreading of the passage (one that is mistaken). then I am quite certain that when I encounter these things I am not asleep but awake. does) have grounds for eliminating option (b).53 The furtherclaim..ciate. though I'll not be able to address such concerns here. if these things do not exist. he may also permitthis deceit. 41.. they do not come from another agent-this he. The "greatpropensity to believe" fulfills condition (i). that "God has given me no faculty at all for recognizing any such source [as (b) or (c)] for these ideas. and when I can connect my perceptions of them with the whole of the rest of my life without a break." fulfills condition (ii). but complains that Descartes never does argue against option (c): "The core of [Descartes's] argument is this: The reason for our sensation of materialthings is outside us. Descartes can protect his appearance-realitydistinction by blocking condition (ii)-he thinks he can show (and indeed has shown) how to correct the inclination to judge that objects are as they seem. The wax passage. the readingfinds primafacie supportfrom the following passage: I now notice that there is a vast difference between [dreamingand waking]. determinate as opposed to determinable features) that the meditator arrives at "by means of the senses" are part of the essence of the wax (CSM 2:20. Descartes would (indeed. for otherwise God would be a deceiver. without thereby becoming a deceiver . for instance. and the like. or from the things themselves.

however.4 above). and in addition. On closer inspection. it could have been offered in the FirstMeditation). my italics) Centralto the inferenceis the meditator'seffort to ascertainthe correctnessof the judgment towards which he is inclined by means of his various faculties: the inclination is sufficient to warrantthe judgment that he is awake. Second. my italics).. I can use both my memory. then I am quite certain that when I encounter these things I am not asleep but awake. provided his faculties do not enable him to ascertain that he is instead dreaming. And I ought not to have even the slightest doubt of their reality if. the exaggerated doubts of the last few days should be dismissed as laughable. it turnsout that Descartes's proposedsolution includes theistic steps intended to complement the appeal to continuity. in accordance with the IWC Rule. after calling upon all the senses as well as my memoryand my intellect in order to check them. The treatmentof dropsy is supposed to shed light on Descartes's proposed solution of the dreamingproblem. But as Descartes writes. (CSM 2:61. my inability to distinguishbetween being asleep and being awake. This applies especially to . AT 7:195-96). he needs only to establish condition (ii) of the IWC Rule and he'll have a divine guarantee of being awake. the dreamingpassage comes on the heels of Descartes's treatment of dropsy-type error (as discussed in Section 2. says the meditator(speakingof sensory appearances).This "solution"promptstwo obvious objections (both of which are raised by Hobbes. I should not have any furtherfears about the falsity of what my senses tell me every day. the cases like these to which Descartes refers are those where conditions (i) and (ii) of the IWC Rule are both satisfied-namely. when "we are asleep and are aware that we are dreaming.(CSM 2:62.The dreamingpassage opens with the meditatordiscussing his ability to correctsensory error: I can almost always make use of more than one sense to investigate the same thing. which connects present experiences with preceding ones. which has by now examined all the causes of error. For from the fact that God is not a deceiver it follows that in cases like these I am completely free from error.Accordingly.. AT 7:89) suggests that he Referringto the worry(thathe is dreaming)as "exaggerated" is strongly inclined to think he is awake. 4- S One might have thought it implausible to establish that one is dreaming(especially given that. condition (ii) need be clearly and distinctly perceived). As such. but to be aware that we are dreaming we need only the intellect"(CSM 2:248. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 587 . on the contrary. AT 7:358-59. I receive no conflicting reportsfrom any of these sources. it seems one could dream the requisite continuity. Thus. First. this solution is available to the atheist since it involves no appealto divine veracity(indeed. and my intellect. AT 7:90. when I distinctly see where things come from and where and when they come to me. we need imagination in order to dream. and when I can connect my perceptions of them with the whole of the rest of my life without a break. In context.55On my account.

AT 7:196) Establishing that both (i) and (ii) of the IWC Rule are fulfilled is of no use to the atheist. The meditator'srespective levels of confidence. includes the following: In the Fourth Meditation it is proved that everything that we clearly and distinctly perceive is true . Likewise. because he cannot establish the credibility of the IWC Rule.When arguingas to how he can know that caveat in concession of how onerous he is awake. "cannot know that this criterion is sufficient to give him the certainty that he is not mistaken. that one could dream that one is checking one's faculties in accordance with (ii)-Descartes's reply is. the C&D Rule. foundationalist project.type circumstances. I have argued. AT 7:15) My account of the Fourth Meditation explains each of these claims. if he does not know that he was created by a non-deceiving God. the atheist can also "infer that he is awake on the basis of memory of his past life. in the two cases. reflect the complication involved..56 Condition (ii) turns out to be much more problematic in Descartes's treatmentof the dreamingproblem than in his argumentfor the existence of the materialworld. I have located Descartes's proof of the C&D Rule in the final paragraphof the Fourth Meditation. God cannot allow it to happen on pain of allowing positive imperfection. Descartes allows that the atheist geometer can demonstrate theorems of geometry. When arguing for the existence of the material world. Conclusion Evidently. it must be admittedthat in this human life we are often liable to make mistakes about particularthings. that though this might seem possible. however.But since atheists cannot establish the credibility of do not provide them scientia.. butit playsan ancillary roleto condition (ii). Descartes adds an important a task it is to establish condition (ii): But since the pressure of things to be done does not always allow us to stop and make such a meticulous check.." (CSM 2:137. AT 7:90) 3. Descartes acknowledges that. and we must acknowledge the weakness of our nature. to the contrary. (CSM 2:1 1. AT 7:13) These [Fourth Meditation] results need to be known both in order to confirm what has gone before and also to make intelligible what is to come later.recall.The continuitytest is involved in Descartes's procedure. their clear and distinct demonstrations 588 LEX NEWMAN . As I have argued. and do so with clear and distinct certainty. that the Fourth Meditation is as significant to the larger epistemological project as Descartes representsit-a representation that. (CSM 2:11." The atheist. it is not possible to establish a divine 56 As for the other of Hobbes' objections-viz. by appeal to the continuity test. Descartes regards it as decisive that condition (ii) holds. and a decisive conclusion is drawn. (CSM 2:62. it strikes most readersof the Meditations that the FourthMeditation amounts to a detour from what is otherwise an orderly. AT 7:15) [Indeed] it was not possible to prove this [the truth criterion] before the Fourth Meditation. (CSM 2:9. in effect.

1984. THE FOURTHMEDITATION 589 . The Philosophical Writingsof Descartes. eds. References Adam. Oxford:Oxford University Press. M. and trans. Oxford edition (underthe editorship of W. Aquinas."In CanadianJournal of Philosophy 16 (supp. and Dugald Murdoch. Hiram. The Problem of Evil. Vrin. 1928.and RobertMerrihewAdams. Georges J. the brains-in-a-vathypothesis. Oxford University Press. D. John. orderlyproject. eds. 1990. 1904.Oxford:ClarendonPress. raised in the First Meditation)to confirmthe conclusion of the ThirdMeditation proof of God. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press. 1972."In Reason. "Truth. the subsequent proofs purporting to establish divinely guaranteed knowledge claims would be unintelligible:Descartes's claims as to what follows from the conclusion that God is no deceiver can only be understoodin light of the work of the theodicy. "Will and Reason in Descartes's Theory of Error. Summa Theologica. John Cottingham. Ross). Will.guaranteeof the C&D Rule before the FourthMeditation:the FourthMeditation treatmentof theodicy is needed (in view of the problem of evil/error. and the like.both of these results are needed as premises in the demonstrationof the C&D Rule. Caton. The IWC Rule has furtherinterestingapplicationsto post-Cartesianskeptical problems: it suggests Cartesiansolutions to Hume's problem of induction. Cottingham. Donald A. Charles. I leave it to the reader to apply the IWC Rule to these cases. Aristotle. 1991. Oeuvres de Descartes. in conjunction with McGraw-Hill. The Worksof Aristotle. "Descartesand the Problemof Evil. D. "Truthand stability in Descartes's Meditations.and Paul Tannery. ed. Without the theodicy and the truth criteriait helps ground (the C&D Rule and the IWC Rule). and. moreover. Far from a detour. the private language problem. 1994. memorial justification.and the Orderof Reasons. ed.the FourthMeditationis an integralpartof Descartes'sbroader. Curley. Cambridge. Massachusetts:Harvard UniversityPress. Cress. Vol. and Sensation. London:Routledge. to advance the principle that an omniperfect creatoris incompatible with positive imperfection.Brian.):75-108." CanadianJournal of Philosophy 2:117-26. Moyal. Descartes Against the Skeptics. Jonathan. MarilynMcCord. Adams.eds. Robert Stoothoff. 3. Blackfriars edition. Thomas."In Rene'Descartes: Critical Assessments. Calvert. Paris:J. Error. E. 1964-. Bennett. 1978.1990.

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