Freedom and its internal relation to reason is fundamental to Descartes’ philosophy in general, and to his Meditations on First Philosophy in particular. Without freedom his entire enquiry would not get off the ground, and without understanding the rôle of freedom in his work, we could not understand what motivates key parts of his metaphysics. Yet, not only is freedom a relatively overlooked element, but its internal relation to reason has gone unnoticed by most studies of his philosophy.
Self, Reason, and Freedom: A New Light on Descartes’ Metaphysics, by defending freedom’s internal relation to reason, sheds new light on Descartes’ metaphysics and restores the often dismissed Fourth Meditation to the core of his metaphysics as he conceived it. Implicit in that relation is a rejection of any authority external to reason. Andrea Christofidou shows how this lends strength and explanatory force to Descartes’ enquiry, and reveals his conception of the unity of the self and of its place in the world.
Self, Reason, and Freedom: A New Light on Descartes’ Metaphysics is essential reading for students and scholars of Descartes and anyone studying seventeenth-century philosophy.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Methodic doubt and the abyss of scepticism 2. The first certainty 3. Sum res cogitans 4. Thought and reality 5. God’s existence: The argument from clear and distinct ideas 6. Understanding, error, and the will 7. Freedom, truth, and goodness 8. The metaphysics of corporeality and God’s existence: The argument from God’s essence 9. The existence of the corporeal world and the metaphysics of substance 10. The real distinction and the absolute conception of reality 11. Conclusion. Index
Andrea Christofidou is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Keble College, and Lecturer in Philosophy at Worcester College, University of Oxford, UK.
"… a rich, serious exploration of Descartes’ Meditations that focuses (as the title suggests) on the relationships between the self, reason, and freedom. Volumes of scholarship exist on the Meditations and providing a fresh, plausible reading of any such text is a challenge; happily, it is a challenge that Christofidou meets. … Self, Reason, and Freedom deserves to be widely read by the Descartes scholarly community, and it offers an invitation to contemporary thinkers to reconsider their base assumptions about freedom. There is much here to provoke fruitful debate." - Emily Thomas, MIND
"…Christofidou articulates a provocative - sometimes brilliant - vision of Descartes' metaphysics and demonstrates a great deal of unity behind the many disparate arguments in the Meditations... Descartes scholars cannot afford to ignore this book, and it offers interested non-specialists a new way to appreciate the depth and power of Descartes' insights." - C. P. Ragland, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews