Toward an Intentional Nonlogical Interpretation of Cartesian Epistemology

Dissertation, Brown University (1987)
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Abstract
Standard interpretations of Descartes' work, especially those inspired by analytic philosophy, assume the syllogism and Principia Mathematica's artificial language are appropriate tools for interpreting Cartesianism, particularly the ontological argument. The dissertation shows technical problems arise when those logics are used for that purpose. An intentianal interpretation along Meinongian lines is proposed, as an alternative to deductive exegeses. This interpretation is developed after arguing that Russell did not identify what I call "the epistemic use" of Meinong's theory of objects. The proposed interpretation is nonlogical in the sense that intentionality alone, not deductive arguments, explains the cogito and res cogitans' belief in god's existence. God is the only one of res cogitan's intentionalia in which existence is analytically included; thus, there is no need for an ontological argument. Such an interpretation is consistent with Descartes' rejection of syllogistics as a truth-discovering tool and provides a framework to evaluate Cartesianism and Kant's criticism of it. Moreover, some problems afflicting logico-deductive readings cannot arise in this interpretation
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