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NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS 509 covered and interpreted. Depending on their interests and their theories of causation, historians may have any variety of single-facetcd or multi-faceted interpretations. Social history of ideas is one variety. Practitioners of each of the above willnotice omissions of subdivisions and may differ with my definition of their field. Such a reaction would further indicate that indeed there is a plethora of approaches. Such abundance is needed to meet the spectrum of concerns of historically-minded scholars. In each approach the focus is different; an idea, a general topic, the transmission of ideas, a discipline, a specific social environment, an intellectual community, the spirit of an era, a whole society and culture, an event, the life and times of a writer. Ideas do in fact have meaning and function along this full spectrum of contexts . A methodology is chosen which will throw light on a particular kind of context; some of the best scholarship results from the utilization by one individual of complementary methodologies. Fortunately, to compensate for the limitations of individual scholars, we have other scholars! The tensions between the horiz0ntalists and verticalists and between the externalists and intemalists are healthy tensions. Only through communicationamong scholars utilizing differentmethodologies and through attempts by individual scholars to approach their subject from several perspectives can we hope to gain a multi-faceted comprehension of man's past. MARYANNE CLINE HOROWITZ Occidental College DESCARTES' INCONSISTENCY: A REPLY* In my paper, "Descartes on Unknown Faculties: An Essential Inconsistency,''1 I point out that Descartes claims on one occasion that he could have a faculty which is unknown to him (Claim A), but on a second occasion, within the same Meditation, claims the contrary (Claim B). I then try to show that nothing which Descartes achieves or says between A and B justifies this volte face on his part, and subsequently conclude that he is inconsistent in Meditation III, and that this inconsistency is in fact essential to his argument. Professors Brewster and Humphrey have raised objections to my view that Descartes is inconsistent.2 Here I wish to reply to these objections because I think they fail, though sometimesin quite subtle ways, and because I believe I can in this way clarity my earlier contentions. Brewster and Humphrey, as I understand them, have raised three major objections to my paper. These objections, in the order in which I shall take them up, are: I. That I do not have a prima facie case for my claim that Descartes is inconsistent, for * I wish to thank my colleague, Professor Jonathan Robinson, and Professor Donald Livingston of Northern Illinois University for their helpful comments on a draft of this reply. i "Descartes on Unknown Faculties: An Essential Inconsistency," Journal of the History of Philosophy, VI, 3 (July, 1968), 244-256. 2 Leonard E. Brewster, "How to Know Enough about Unknown Faculties," Journal o! the History of Philosophy, XII, 3 (July, 1974), 366--371, and Ted B. Humphrey, "How Descartes Avoids the Hidden Faculties Trap," ibid., 371-377. 510 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY Claim A can be demonstrated to be false, and hence Descartes is justified in maldng Claim B. (Brewster)8 Ii. That I fail to note that Claim A is made in a limited context, namely, a discussion of the origin of only those ideas which are adventitious, while Claim B is made in a signilicantly different context, and hence the two claims are not inconsistent. (Humphrey) III. That I have failed to see that for Descartes Jacultiesare always dependent modes of substances, and hence that no faculty could have a power exceeding the substance of which it is a mode, which is to say that I have missed a crucial metaphysical distinction which accounts for the apparent differences in the two claims, and permits both to be made without inconsistency. (Humphrey) I. Professor Brewster argues that I do not have a prima fade case for the claim that Descartes is inconsistent. The "pivotal issue," he suggests, "is whether the possibility of the unknown faculty invalidates Descartes' first proof for the existence of God." He then suggests that this proof consists of three premises: (1) "Descartes' assertion that he possesses an...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 509-520
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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