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date: 25 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Among the most original of the features of Cartesian thought is the thesis of the “creation of eternal truths”. From the outset this thesis confronts a paradox: although Descartes’s immediate successors considered it fundamental, historians of philosophy have long ignored it, and it was not until the works of Alquié and Rodis-Lewis, and then Marion, that this thesis was given the importance it deserves. In fact—and Descartes’s immediate successors were not deceived—if this thesis is crucial, it is because it points to the heart of Cartesian thought, so the whole of Descartes’s thought can be evaluated in its light. The challenge it poses is the relation between the infinite (God) and the finite (human reason), and it concerns the status of truths and rationality, the question of the equivocity or analogy of being and knowledge, and therefore the status of the possible in the face of divine omnipotence. In order to appreciate the theoretical breadth of this thesis, this chapter attempts to put it in its historical context: among Descartes’s predecessors we find possible opposition to this doctrine as well as anticipations of it, even if these are only partial. Finally, it considers the reception of the doctrine among post-Cartesians.

Keywords: eternal truths, creation, God, equivocity, univocity

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