Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

Raffaella De Rosa, Rutgers, "The Curious Case of Cartesian Sensations: Triggering Causation and Innateness"

Fri, April 11, 2014 | David L. Miller Conference Room, WAG 316

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Abstract: Descartes endorses the two prima facie inconsistent claims that sensory ideas are innate (Claim A) and caused in us by bodies (Claim B). Most scholars believe that Claims A and B are consistent because Descartes’ view on innateness and his understanding of bodily states as occasional or triggering causes leave room for bodies to play a causal role in the production of sensations. I argue that the notion of triggering causation does not solve the theoretical problems it is introduced to solve and it generates additional ones.  I propose a new solution. My proposal relies on a different understanding of Descartes’ views on innateness in light of the distinction between the psychological question of the mechanisms by which we acquire ideas and the metaphysical question of how the content of these ideas is determined.

Sponsored by: Department of Philosophy

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