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This page intentionally left blank two Thinking about the Sun I: The Fundamental Case In this chapter I am focused on one (kind of ) thinking fact—my thinking of the sun. By way of preamble, let us keep in mind two “technical” features of the discussion that follows. Two Preambles First, the choice of this object of thinking, the sun. Descartes discusses, in Meditation III and in various replies, other objectsof-thinking: God, infinity (to objectify: infinite substance), angels, complex machines, triangles, material bodies, my-self (that is, his self ), all cases with more philosophical bite than this mundane object, the sun.

Next, we ask: how did it come about? What made me have the sun (rather than, say, the moon) in mind? Descartes’ discussion often fuses two different questions I would like to separate. The first we may call the preservation of reality question, the second the mechanism of having in mind question. The principle of preservation of reality concerns the notion of grade of reality (sometimes “perfection”): the effect cannot have more reality than the cause. , the effect is my thinking of the sun), we are told the effect cannot have more reality than its cause, in this case—the event of the sun’s being in the heavens.

Worse, we’d be wrong about what it was, its nature. To repeat, a key question arises at this juncture: assuming we’d prove Descartes’ consequent—God exists—what exactly would we learn from it? Much depends on our understanding of this consequent. Speaking for myself (rather than Descartes) for a moment, I believe that a proper understanding of what Descartes is after with this consequent-fact provides us, at the same time, with: (i) something that is fundamentally true about the structure of nature (by “fundamentally true,” I mean both true and fundamental) and yet, (ii) Descartes cannot quite get everything he wanted from this true-consequent fact The clash between (i) and (ii) leads Descartes to recognize what I formulate as a dilemma, a limitative result, that reflects something more general about thinking of things, not just of God.

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