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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Pierre Gassendi is best known today as a critic of Descartes. This chapter surveys Gassendi’s Objections to the Meditations, Descartes’s Reply, and Gassendi’s Counter-Objections in the Disquisitio Metaphysica. The central theme of this debate is methodology. Gassendi thinks that the methodology of the Meditations is hopeless: nobody can genuinely clear their mind of preconceived opinions, and if they did, they would not have discovered new foundations for the sciences, but instead be trapped in a state of suspended judgment. Gassendi’s critique is not entirely fair to Descartes, and Descartes’s reply fails to take seriously the main points of the critique.

Keywords: Pierre Gassendi, clear and distinct perception, essence, methodology, real distinction

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