a1 University of Iowa
Arnauld's suspicion was right: the Meditations is circular. That is not surprising, for there is no escape from the circle of ideas into which Descartes drove himself. Nor is it surprising that Descartes failed to see what Arnauld suspected. What is surprising is that some still fail to see what Arnauld suspected. They fail, I think, because they are bewildered. They cannot understand how Descartes could have committed such a blunder, nor how, if he had, he could have failed to see it once Arnauld pointed to it. The purpose of this paper is to explain Descartes’ blunder and blindness by exhibiting the confusions underlying his conviction that he does escape the circle of ideas.
(Online publication September 1966)
* In the preparation of this paper I have benefited greatly from conversations with Gustav Bergmann who has himself been forced to examine the logic of representationalism in his current studies of Brentano and Meinong.