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Castaneda 1 Caleb Castaneda Professor Easton Descartes' Theory of Mind 18 December 2013 Can Descartes Reject the Princi

le of !"fficient Reason#

Abstract Spinoza challenges Descartes as to the implications of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) and, it seems to me, sufficiently demonstrates that the PSR will lead to a monism rather than Descartes' dualism !he challenge for Descartes, presuming he wishes to "eep his dualistic metaphysical principles, is to respond to Spinoza on this point #ichael Della Rocca has con$incingly argued that there is a demar"ation problem facing anyone who wishes to deny uni$ersal e%plicability demands, such that the denier of the PSR is ne$er entitled to use an e%plicability demand, e$en in local circumstances &f this is true, then if Descartes wishes to deny the monistic implications of Spinoza's metaphysics, he will be forced to e%orcise his metaphysical principles of any appeal to the PRS &t is my contention that, if Descartes were to underta"e such a pro'ect, his pro'ect would fare surprisingly well !he upshot of such a scheme will be that Descartes is not forced to yield ground to Spinoza( he can simply deny the PSR, while "eeping his metaphysics Such a mo$e would ha$e surprising implications, howe$er )ltimately, he would lose the force of his conclusion that there is a real union at all !his is not entirely a loss for Descartes, because by ma"ing such a mo$e he simultaneously disarms criti*ues that his system cannot e%plain the real union, but probably at a cost that Descartes would find unpalatable & would argue that this does not put Descartes at any greater disad$antage than any other system that denies the PSR $ ha%e heard it said that hiloso her Rene Descartes is the father of modern hiloso hy& 'n most acco"nts( his hiloso hy mar)ed a radical de art"re from the scholasticism that *as then re%alent( o enin+ " ne* *ays of thin)in+ that *o"ld ermit "s to reach +reater scientific achie%ements& ,is hiloso hy( *hich came to be called -Cartesian d"alism.( *as the thesis that there are t*o ty es of finite s"bstances( thin)in+ -st"ff. and e/tended -st"ff.( and that( moreo%er( in the h"man bein+ these t*o s"bstances had come to form a "nion& E%en in his day( he faced resistance from the establishment as *ell as from freethin)ers& This essay loo)s at the im lications of the tho"+ht of one of those in the ne/t +eneration after Descartes *ho raised

Castaneda 2 0"estions abo"t Cartesian d"alism1 2enedict de ! ino3a& E/aminin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason as "sed by ! ino3a and determinin+ that Descartes *ill be recl"ded from "sin+ the rinci le if he *ishes to retain his d"alism( $ *ill attem t to reform"late the ar+"ments in Descartes' Meditations *here%er he a ears to "se the rinci le of s"fficient reason& 4ltimately( $ *ill ho e to sho* that Descartes +ets s"r risin+ly far by rejectin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason1 ,e *ill be able to retain his d"alism and most as ects of his meta hysics5 he *ill "ltimately( ho*e%er( ha%e to sacrifice his ar+"ment that there is a real "nion bet*een mind and body& ! ino3a( of co"rse( is famo"sly a monist rather than a d"alist& Moreo%er( he is a monist of the most e/treme sort& ,e ar+"es( not j"st that there is only one kind of st"ff( b"t in fact that there is "ltimately only one thin+& E%erythin+ that e/ists is merely a mode of this "ltimate bein+& ! ino3a e/ lains it this *ay1 PR'P& 6l71 Besides God no substance can be granted or conceived. Proof& 8 9s :od is a bein+ absol"tely infinite( of *hom no attrib"te that e/ resses the essence of s"bstance can be denied ;by Def& %i&<( and he necessarily e/ists ;by Pro & /i&<5 if any s"bstance besides :od *ere +ranted( it *o"ld ha%e to be e/ lained by some attrib"te of :od( and th"s t*o s"bstances *ith the same attrib"te *o"ld e/ist( *hich ;by Pro & %&< is abs"rd5 therefore( besides :od no s"bstance can be +ranted( or( conse0"ently( be concei%ed& ;! ino3a =>( ==< To my mind( ! ino3a's monistic concl"sion is some*hat less interestin+ than the *ay that he arri%es at his concl"sion& ?or( in arri%in+ at his concl"sion( my contention is that he *ields a %ery o*erf"l rationalist tool& This tool *o"ld come to be called the - rinci le of s"fficient reason&.1 $t is the fact that this artic"lar tool is "sed that( in my o inion( ma)es ! ino3a's osition
1 The -Princi le of !"fficient Reason. came to be called this after ! ino3a *rote& ! ino3a ne%er called it this& ,o*e%er( the rinci le is e/ licitly e/ lained and "sed by ! ino3a in his meta hysical system&

Castaneda 3 interestin+& @hy is it the case that $ find ! ino3a's "se of the rinci le of s"fficient reason more interestin+ than his act"al concl"sion# $ ha%e heard it said that the mar) of a +ood ar+"ment is that it be+ins *ith remisses to *hich no one objects and ends *ith a concl"sion that no one can acce t& 9nd ! ino3a's ar+"ment certainly meets this standard& ! ino3a's tool( the rinci le of s"fficient reason( is ro"tinely "sed in each of o"r daily li%es& $t is a sim le rinci le( *ith +reat int"iti%e a eal& 9nd yet( if ! ino3a is ri+ht abo"t the im lications of the rinci le( it leads to s"r risin+ concl"sions( not the least of *hich is his monism& ! ino3a's tool is the rinci le of s"fficient reason& 9s ! ino3a defines it( this rinci le re0"ires that -There is necessarily for each indi%id"al e/istent thin+ a ca"se *hy it sho"ld e/ist. ;! ino3a =0<& To "t it more s"ccinctly( the rinci le of s"fficient reason says that e%erythin+ has some e/ lanation& 'f co"rse( *e may not )no* the e/ lanation for some thin+s& 2"t if *e acce t the rinci le of s"fficient reason( *e are committed to the %ie* that some e/ lanation does e/ist for e%ery henomenon( e%en if *e do not )no* *hat that e/ lanation mi+ht be& $t is easy to see from the earlier cited 0"otation the *ay that ! ino3a "ses this tool to demand that :od is the only s"bstance1 !ince :od is infinite( he ossesses all the attrib"tes ;=><& 9nd( beca"se e%erythin+ re0"ires an e/ lanation ;here( o"r rinci le of s"fficient reason is at *or)A< any distinct s"bstance ;i&e&( any s"bstance that is not :od< *o"ld ha%e to ha%e some e/ lanation that *o"ld already be resent in the nat"re of :od ;==<& 9nd this *o"ld re0"ire that t*o s"bstances share an attrib"te( *hich is not ermitted in ! ino3a's system& $n fact( ! ino3a's rohibition a+ainst t*o s"bstances sharin+ an attrib"te is itself rooted in the rinci le of s"fficient reason& -$f se%eral distinct s"bstances be +ranted(. m"ses ! ino3a( -they m"st be distin+"ished one from the other( either by the difference of their attrib"tes( or by the difference of their modifications. ;! ino3a >B<& ,ere( ! ino3a is "sin+ a red"ctio ad

Castaneda > abs"rd"m ar+"ment to sho* that( if there *ere t*o s"bstances sharin+ an attrib"te( some abs"rdity *o"ld follo*& ,o*( he *ants to )no*( *o"ld *e be able to tell these t*o attrib"teC sharin+ s"bstances a art# $t m"st be either by their attrib"tes or their modes& 2"t( it cannot be by their attrib"tes beca"se they share an attrib"te( and for ! ino3a as for Descartes the entire essence of a s"bstance m"st be )no*n thro"+h an attrib"te ;>B<&2 2"t nor co"ld it be by means of a mode( beca"se modes are not essential to the nat"re of s"bstance( and it m"st be ossible to e/ lain a s"bstance *itho"t reco"rse to the modes beca"se s"bstance is rior to its modifications ;>B<& !"btly resent behind this ar+"ment is an a eal to the rinci le of s"fficient reason( for *e can only demand an e/ lanation for the difference bet*een t*o s"bstances if *e res"me that each essence re0"ires some e/ lanation in the first lace& $t is beyond the sco e of this a er to j"d+e *hether ! ino3a *as correct abo"t *hat *as im lied by acce tance of the rinci le of s"fficient reason& ?or the "r oses of this a er( $ shall ass"me that ! ino3a *as correct( and that the rinci le of s"fficient reason( ado ted "ni%ersally( leads to a monism of the sort that he insists " on& 2"t at this oint *e mi+ht as) *hether a erson need acce t the rinci le of s"fficient reason as a rationalist principle in order to ma)e local e/ licability demands& $t mi+ht be tho"+ht that it is ossible to as) for an e/ lanation for some artic"lar fact *itho"t insistin+ that every fact re0"ire an e/ lanation& $f this is ossible( then Descartes co"ld still ma)e certain e/ licability demands *itho"t committin+ himself to the im lications of acce tin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason& $s this ossible#
2 ! ino3a e/ licitly describes this as ect of attrib"tes1 -2y attrib"te( $ mean that *hich the intellect ercei%es as constit"tin+ the essence of s"bstance. ;>=<& 9ltho"+h Descartes *o"ld "se different terminolo+y( it is to be inferred that he *o"ld a+ree that the essence of a s"bstance is )no*n entirely thro"+h some manifestation( for he e/ licitly ar+"es that he is a s"bstance *hose essence is to thin) ;Descartes 1D<& ?or Descartes( it *o"ld seem that each s"bstance can only ha%e one attrib"te ;"sin+ the *ord -attrib"te. here in ! ino3a's sense<( for the ar+"ment is later made that :od can conce t"ally se arate distinct manifestations and this ossibility is "sed to ar+"e for a s"bstantial distinction bet*een the thin)in+ thin+ and the e/tended thin+ ;=>( ==<& $ here side *ith ! ino3a so lon+ as the system s"bscribes to an infinite bein+( for if there is a :od( it *o"ld seem he *o"ld 0"alify as a sin+le s"bstance& 9nd if he is a sin+le s"bstance( then the real distinction bet*een thin)in+ and e/tension m"st be one of manifestation rather than a s"bstantial distinction( or else :od has neither manifestation&

Castaneda = Philoso her Michael Della Rocca has an ar+"ment that it is not ossible to ma)e local e/ licability demands in artic"lar cases *hile sim"ltaneo"sly denyin+ "ni%ersal e/ licability& ,e first notes that *e ro"tinely do acce t local e/ licability demands& ,e as)s "s to ima+ine( for instance( t*o objects that -are in the same *orld and that are cate+orically e/actly ali)e& They each ha%e ;0"alitati%ely< the same molec"lar str"ct"re and ha%e all the same cate+orical hysical feat"res. ;Della Rocca 2<& :i%en this sit"ation( it seems "nli)ely that *e *o"ld acce t a claim that one of the objects has the ro erty of dissol%in+ in *ater *hereas the other does not ;2<& This is beca"se *e acce t the e/ licability demand in this case& 2"t *hat abo"t the case of an e/ licability demand for e/istence itself# Della Rocca notes that s"ch a demand is really j"st a restatement of the rinci le of s"fficient reason( for -to insist that there be an e/ lanation for the e/istence of each e/istin+ thin+ is sim ly to insist on the P!R itself. ;Della Rocca B<& Can *e +i%e a rinci led reason for acce tin+ the first ar+"ment *itho"t acce tin+ the second# Della Rocca notes that( *hen faced *ith this 0"estion( there are three o tions1 one can deny the le+itimacy of all e/ licability demands *hatsoe%er ;deny the rinci le of s"fficient reason<( one can acce t e/ licability demands in e%ery case ;affirm the rinci le of s"fficient reason<( or one -can say that some of the e/ licability ar+"ments are le+itimate and some E in artic"lar( the e/ licability ar+"ment concernin+ e/istence E are not. ;B<& The roblem *ith acce tin+ this third o tion is that there is a roblem in findin+ a nonC arbitrary line at *hich the le+itimacy or lac) thereof of an e/ licability demand can be dra*n& $n essence( there is a demar)ation roblem facin+ anyone *ho *ants to deny the rinci le of s"fficient reason& Della Rocca ar+"es that any arbitrary line that mi+ht be dra*n *o"ld ha%e to itself be a br"te fact1 -it Fthe lineG j"st is dra*n here. ;8<& 2"t br"te facts deny the rinci le of s"fficient reason5 since the rinci le of s"fficient reason is itself the 0"estion( Della Rocca ar+"es that an arbitrary line that *e mi+ht be tem ted to dra* *o"ld be 0"estionCbe++in+ ;8<&

Castaneda H 'f co"rse( a principled line *o"ld not be+ the 0"estion a+ainst the rinci le of s"fficient reason& 2"t +i%en that *e seem to *ant to ma)e e/ licability demands of e%erythin+ but e/istence itself( $ am not o timistic that s"ch a rinci led line *ill e%er be la"sibly forthcomin+& Therefore( for my "r oses in this essay $ *ill ass"me based on Della Rocca's ar+"ment that anyone *ho *ants to deny the rinci le of s"fficient reason is rohibited from e%er ma)in+ any e/ licability demands "nless she also resents a rinci led method by *hich she discerns le+itimate from ille+itimate e/ licability demands& ,a%in+ sho*n that if Descartes *o"ld *ish to )ee his d"alistic meta hysics he o"+ht to ma)e no a eal to the rinci le of s"fficient reason( $ am no* re ared to e/amine Descartes' ar+"ments as resented in his Meditations to loo) for any o%ert a eal to the rinci le of s"fficient reason& ,a%in+ identified s"ch ar+"ments( it remains to be seen if any s"ch ar+"ments co"ld be reform"lated so as to ma)e no a eal to the rinci le of s"fficient reason& There are( $ belie%e t*o assa+es *here Descartes ma)es a tacit a eal to the rinci le of s"fficient reason&3 These assa+es occ"r in the third and si/th meditations& $n the third meditation( after obser%in+ that he has an idea of :od( Descartes *rites1 Io* it is manifest by the nat"ral li+ht that there m"st be at least as m"ch JrealityK in the efficient and total ca"se as in the effect of that ca"se& ?or *here( $ as)( co"ld the effect +ets its reality from( if not from the ca"se# 9nd ho* co"ld the ca"se +i%e it to the effect
3 $n the first and second meditations( Descartes is rimarily introd"cin+ his methodolo+y of "sin+ s)e tical do"bt to determine *hat is ind"bitable( and introd"cin+ his famo"s co+ito ;12C23<& 9ltho"+h he may occasionally "se ca"sal reasonin+ in his e/ lanations( neither of these t*o ideas seem to inherently rely on the rinci le of s"fficient reason& $n the fo"rth meditation( Descartes introd"ces t*o fairly cr"cial ideas1 that :od is no decei%er( ;an ar+"ment *hich seems to be based on the rinci le of nonCcontradiction< and that clear and distinct erce tions are the standard by *hich *e can distin+"ish bet*een conce tions *hich are liable to error and those *hich are not ;3BC>3<& This( as $ "nderstand it( is sim ly definin+ *hich conce tions 0"alify for his rather stron+ %ersion of concei%ability ar+"ment& 2y the =th meditation( Descartes is ar+"in+ *hat form material objects *o"ld ta)e if they ha ened to e/ist& ,e "ses his stron+ %ersion of a concei%ability ar+"ment co" led *ith his -:od is not a decei%er. ar+"ment ;*hich seems based on the La* of nonCcontradiction&< $n the first art of the Hth meditation( Descartes is ar+"in+ based on his concei%ability ar+"ment for the s"bstantial distinction bet*een mind and body& $t *o"ld seem( then( that the a eals to the rinci le of s"fficient reason in the third and the second art of the si/th meditations are Descartes' only real "se of the rinci le&

Castaneda B "nless it ossessed it# $t follo*s from this both that somethin+ cannot arise from nothin+( and also that *hat is more erfect 8 that is( contains in itself more reality 8 cannot arise from *hat is less erfect& ;28< This ar+"ment *or)s by e/aminin+ somethin+ that $ )no* to e/ist( namely( the tho"+ht that is in my mind1 the idea of :od& $n this res ect( it resembles a concei%ability ar+"ment& 2"t it is not a "re concei%ability ar+"ment( beca"se it also as)s "s *here this tho"+ht came from& $t as)s "s to ima+ine that ideas are the sorts of thin+s that re0"ire e/ lanations5 it th"s ma)es an e/ licability demand of ideas( tacitly relyin+ on the rinci le of s"fficient reason& !ince it relies on this rinci le( it re0"ires reform"lation if Descartes is to e/orcise his system of any a eal to the rinci le of s"fficient reason& Can this be done# $ belie%e that( by "sin+ a "re concei%ability ar+"ment( Descartes can achie%e his +oal of ar+"in+ for :od *itho"t any a eal to the rinci le of s"fficient reason& $n order to ma)e this claim intelli+ible( $ first *ant to distin+"ish bet*een ossibility in the modal sense( as contrasted *ith ossibility in the e istemic sense& The *ord - ossible. is ro"tinely "sed in the e istemic sense( to indicate a lac) of )no*led+e& $n the e istemic sense( -it is ossible that 2i+foot e/ists. is synonymo"s *ith( -$ do not )no* *hether it is the case or not that 2i+foot e/ists&. 2"t *hen *e s ea) of ossibility in the modal sense( *e are not s ea)in+ abo"t "ncertainty& 9nd it is this modal sense of ossibility that concei%ability ar+"ments are intended to in%o)e& To say that 2i+foot - ossibly. e/ists in a modal sense is really to say that -there e/ists a ossible *orld in *hich 2i+foot e/ists&. ,ere( then( is an ar+"ment that does not rely on the rinci le of s"fficient reason that Descartes co"ld "se to ar+"e for :od1 1< 2< $ ha%e an idea of a modally necessary bein+& 2y the rinci le of concei%ability( the fact that $ ha%e an idea of a modally

Castaneda 8 necessary bein+ means that there is at least one ossible *orld *herein a modally necessary bein+ e/ists& 3< $f a bein+ is modally necessary( it is necessary in all ossible *orlds& :od ;a modally necessary bein+< e/ists in all ossible *orlds( and therefore e/ists in this one& $s this ar+"ment *aterti+ht# Iot necessarily& The third remiss seems tr"e by definition( for this is sim ly *hat *e mean *hen *e say that a bein+ is necessary( that it is necessary in all ossible *orlds& 9nd to say that somethin+ is ossibly necessary( in the modal sense( is sim ly to say that it is necessary& 9s to the second remiss( for my "r oses Descartes can +et a*ay *ith ass"min+ the second remiss( as the second remiss is sim ly o"r rinci le of concei%ability *hich $ am ar+"in+ that Descartes can ta)e to be a basic rationalist rinci le& @e mi+ht be inclined( ho*e%er( to deny him his first remiss& @hat $ *ant to note( ho*e%er( is that the first remiss is stated both in Descartes' ori+inal form"lation of his ar+"ment as *ell as in my reform"lation of it ;sa%e that $ ha%e added the e/ lanatory *ord -modal. to indicate j"st *hat ty e of necessity Descartes seems to be res"min+<& !o( if there is a roblem *ith the first remiss( then it *o"ld affect Descartes' ori+inal ar+"ment j"st as m"ch as my reform"lation of it& Th"s( my reform"lation is sit"ated j"st as *ell as Descartes' ori+inal& ,e loses nothin+ by abandonin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason at this oint and ado tin+ an ar+"ment for :od based solely on the rinci le of concei%ability& 9 fe* *ords o"+ht to be said abo"t rationalist rinci les in +eneral& 'f co"rse( there is a sense in *hich concei%ability ar+"ments co"ld be e/ lained "sin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason& $f( for instance( someone *ere to try to e/ lain why concei%ability is correlated *ith ossibility thro"+h some a eal to a ca"sal force( then that *o"ld be a clear case of ma)in+ the rinci le of concei%ability contin+ent " on the tr"th of the rinci le of s"fficient reason&

Castaneda D !omethin+ li)e this *ay of "nderstandin+ concei%ability ar+"ments a ears to "nderlie Descartes' ar+"ment for :od in the third meditation( *herein he ar+"es that his idea of :od re0"ires some ca"se ;3=<& $t is clear in this case that the rinci le of concei%ability is not basic& There is a sense in *hich the rinci le of concei%ability itself( on this acco"nt( rests on the rinci le of s"fficient reason& $f one *ere to deny the rinci le of s"fficient reason( then on Descartes' acco"nt one *o"ld ha%e no reason to acce t the rinci le of concei%ability& 2"t the rinci le of concei%ability could be acce ted as bein+ basic& $n other *ords( it co"ld be +i%en stat"s as a f"ndamental rational rinci le *itho"t attem tin+ to +ro"nd it in any other rational rinci le& 2asic rational rinci les re0"ire no ar+"ment& They are f"ndamental in the sense that( altho"+h they can be either rejected or acce ted( any attem t to ar+"e in behalf of the rinci le is less ers"asi%e than the already int"iti%e a eal of the rinci le itself& $ndeed( it is often diffic"lt to see j"st *hat an ar+"ment in fa%or of a rationalist rinci le *o"ld loo) li)e& Ta)e( for instance( the rinci le of nonCcontradiction&> 'ne co"ld( of co"rse( attem t to form"late an ar+"ment in behalf of the rinci le of nonCcontradiction& 'ne mi+ht be tem ted to say that the tr"th of the rinci le of nonCcontradiction is demonstrated by the fact that any ro osition that does not conform to the rinci le *ill be contradictory& 9s an ar+"ment( this is e/ licitly 0"estionCbe++in+& $t is( after all( the tr"th of the rinci le of nonCcontradiction that is "nder 0"estion& $t *o"ld seem that the force of the rinci le of nonCcontradiction does not lie in any ar+"ment *e mi+ht form"late in its behalf& 2"t in the case of the rinci le of nonCcontradiction( *e can +o f"rther than to sim ly
> There is the f"rther 0"estion as to *hether the rinci le of s"fficient reason is itself a standalone rinci le or *hether it rests on the rinci le of nonCcontradiction& 9ccordin+ to Michael Della Rocca( ! ino3a e/ licitly sa* the rinci le of s"fficient reason as red"cible to the rinci le of nonCcontradiction ;Della Rocca Rationalist Manifesto BB<& $ here side *ith ! ino3a beca"se other*ise there *o"ld seem to be no rinci led e/ lanation for the fact of the rinci le of s"fficient reason itself& 2"t some hiloso hers ha%e treated the t*o rinci les as if they are se arate rinci les& ?or the "r oses of en+a+in+ Descartes( it really does not matter *hether the t*o rinci les are distinct or not beca"se $ ha%e charitably ermitted Descartes reco"rse to the rinci le of nonC contradiction&

Castaneda 10 claim that *e do not )no* *hat an ar+"ment in its fa%or *o"ld loo) li)e& $t *o"ld seem that there can be no logical ar+"ment in behalf of the rinci le of nonCcontradiction& This is beca"se the rinci le of nonCcontradiction is also a la* of lo+ic *hich is res" osed in any attem t to

"se lo+ical ar+"mentation& To form"late a logical ar+"ment in its behalf *ill al*ays be 0"estionC be++in+& 2"t( *hile there may be no argument that re0"ires "s to acce t the rinci le of nonC contradiction( the rinci le has s"ch int"iti%e a eal that most of "s readily acce t it as a basic( a/iomatic rinci le& 'f co"rse( the abo%e reasonin+ only a lies to rational rinci les that are also la*s of lo+ic& 9r+"in+ for( say( the rinci le of s"fficient reason *ill not necessarily create the sort of 0"estionCbe++in+ scenario that la+"es the rinci le of nonCcontradiction( for the sim le reason that the rinci le of s"fficient reason is not also a la* of lo+ic& 2"t it still seems diffic"lt to ima+ine *hat a really stron+ ar+"ment in its fa%or mi+ht loo) li)e& @e acce t it( if *e do( beca"se in o"r e/ erience it is al*ays the case that thin+s re0"ire e/ lanations& 2"t if that is the case( it is an ind"cti%e ar+"ment& The concl"sion *ill not follo* *ith certainty& $t *o"ld th"s seem that o"r int"itions res ectin+ the ar+"ment are stron+er than the ar+"ment itself in the case of the rinci le of s"fficient reason& $f Descartes' a eal to the rinci le of concei%ability is to *or)( it m"st be somethin+ li)e the rinci les of nonCcontradiction and s"fficient reason in this res ect& $t m"st be +ro"nded in its o*n int"iti%e a eal rather than +ro"nded in some other rinci le( li)e the rinci le of s"fficient reason& Th"s( *hile Descartes does attem t to e/ lain concei%ability in terms of the rinci le of s"fficient reason( my ar+"ment relies on an "nderstandin+ that( in order to ma)e his system *or)able( the rinci le of concei%ability m"st be " +raded to a f"ndamental rationalist rinci le( on ar *ith the rinci les of s"fficient reason and nonCcontradiction& @hile the "sa+e of the rinci le of concei%ability as an alternati%e to the rinci le of

Castaneda 11 s"fficient reason seems to hel Descartes o"t of his roblems *ith in%o)in+ the rinci le in behalf of :od's e/istence( $ do not belie%e that the rinci le of concei%ability can offer Descartes any alternati%e form"lation in his second "sa+e of the rinci le of s"fficient reason& $n the si/th meditation( after establishin+ that body m"st e/ist( Descartes ma)es the follo*in+ comment1 Iat"re also teaches me( by these sensations of ain( h"n+er( thirst( and so on( that $ am not merely resent in my body as a sailor is resent in a shi ( b"t that $ am %ery closely joined and( as it *ere( intermin+led *ith it( so that $ and the body form a "nit& $f this *ere not so( $( *ho am nothin+ b"t a thin)in+ thin+( *o"ld not feel ain *hen the body *as h"rt( b"t *o"ld ercei%e the dama+e "rely by the intellect& ;=H< ,ere( Descartes' ar+"ment is fairly strai+htfor*ard1 the real "nion bet*een body and mind is the only ossible e/ lanation for henomena that *e e/ erience on a daily basis& 2"t this res"mes that some e/ lanation is re0"ired( and hence in%o)es the rinci le of s"fficient reason& Can the rinci le of concei%ability hel Descartes here# To "nderstand the obstacles that stand in the *ay of Descartes "sin+ any rinci le of concei%ability to reform"late this ar+"ment( it is necessary to "nderstand that the rinci le of concei%ability co"ld be inter reted in one of t*o *ays& The *ea) *ay of inter retin+ the rinci le of concei%ability *o"ld be to claim that -concei%ability entails modal possibility.. This *ea) inter retation *as all that *as necessary to "rchase :od( for it is only the modal ossibility of a modally necessary bein+ that is re0"ired to establish modal necessity in e%ery ossible *orld& 2"t merely in%o)in+ modal possibility *ill not hel "s in the case of the real "nion( beca"se sayin+ that -there is a ossible *orld in *hich there is a real "nion bet*een mind and body. in no *ay indicates that that ossible *orld is o"r o*n& $n order to "se a concei%ability ar+"ment to "rchase the real "nion( Descartes *o"ld need a stron+er %ersion of the rinci le of concei%ability& $n essence( he *o"ld need to claim that the rinci le of concei%ability entails some form of actuality rather than j"st modal ossibility&

Castaneda 12 'n its face( the idea that concei%ability entails act"ality is a rather diffic"lt claim to s*allo*& $t is( nonetheless( a claim *hich $ belie%e Descartes clearly ma)es *hen he claims that -*hate%er $ ercei%e %ery clearly and distinctly is tr"e. ;Descartes 2><&= $t is not diffic"lt for "s to ima+ine co"ntere/am les to any claim that bare concei%ability entails act"ality& 2"t the conte/t of his statement indicates that Descartes does not ha%e j"st any notion of concei%ability in mind& Rather( he clearly states that it is not e%ery conce tion that indicates act"ality( b"t only that -*hate%er $ ercei%e %ery clearly and distinctly is tr"e. ;2><& ,e th"s ima+ines a %ery hi+h standard for the stron+ %ersion of the rinci le of concei%ability( *ith his -clear. and -distinct. modifiers addin+ t*o strin+ent conditions to bare concei%ability that *o"ld be re0"ired in order for any rinci le of concei%ability to le+itimately entail act"ality& 9n inCde th analysis of *hat Descartes mi+ht mean by ercei%in+ somethin+ -clearly and distinctly. is beyond the sco e of this essay& More to the oint is the obser%ation that this stron+er %ersion of the rinci le of concei%ability cannot hel Descartes "rchase the real "nion any more than the *ea) %ersion co"ld& This is beca"se( rather than affirmin+ that the "nion is clearly and distinctly ercei%ed( Descartes affirms 0"ite the o osite1

$t is tr"e that $ may ha%e ;or( to antici ate( that $ certainly ha%e< a body that is %ery closely joined to me& 2"t ne%ertheless( on the one hand $ ha%e a clear and distinct idea of myself( in so far as $ am sim ly a thin)in+( nonCe/tended thin+5 and on the other hand $ ha%e a distinct idea of body( in so far as this is sim ly an e/tended( nonCthin)in+ thin+&

$ am "ncomfortable *ith sayin+ that Descartes ass"mes actuality from the resence of concei%ability& 2"t $ belie%e he does do so in a ro"ndabo"t fashion& $ earlier cited his ar+"ment in the =th meditation that established that concei%ability entails modal act"ality only on the assumption that God is not a deceiver. My *orry here is that there mi+ht be some ca"sal story in the interrelation bet*een :od's nonCdeceitf"l nat"re and the ontolo+y of my conce tion& E%en if this is the case( ho*e%er( and e%en if it does in%o)e the rinci le of s"fficient reason to connect :od to the rinci le of concei%ability( s"ch a *orry co"ld be dismissed if Descartes *ere to affirm the stron+ %ersion of the rinci le of concei%ability& $f he *ere to do so( he *o"ld not re0"ire :od as an e/ lanation1 indeed( it is the e/ lanations of the rinci le of concei%ability that )ee +ettin+ Descartes into tro"ble& 2"t by rejectin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason he absol%es himself of any d"ty to ro%ide an e/ lanation as to ho* the rinci le of concei%ability *or)s&

Castaneda 13 9nd accordin+ly( it is certain that $ am really distinct from my body( and can e/ist *itho"t it& ;=>< Descartes %ery clearly states that he has a clear and distinct idea of both mind and body as distinct entities( *hich can e/ist *itho"t each other& This idea( the real distinction bet*een mind and body( is absol"tely cr"cial to Descartes' meta hysics& $f he did not ha%e the idea that the thin)in+ thin+ is distinct from e/tended thin+s( then he *o"ld ne%er be able to insist that body e/ists& 9fter all( if body *ere not clearly distinct from the thin)in+ thin+( then there co"ld be no ass"rance that body is not j"st some idea of the mind& The distinctness of the body from the thin)in+ thin+ is a necessary recondition to Descartes' mo%e to "rchase the reality of the hysical *orld& $n li+ht of the cr"cial nat"re of the ar+"ment that the thin)in+ thin+ is distinct from body( it *o"ld seem that Descartes has forfeited any otential claim that the "nion of mind and body is clearly and distinctly ercei%ed& 9nd indeed( an ar+"ment to the effect that the "nion bet*een mind and body is clearly and distinctly ercei%ed is an ar+"ment that he no*here ma)es( and that he *o"ld seemin+ly find "nintelli+ible& 2"t if he cannot state that it is clearly and distinctly ercei%ed( then he cannot in%o)e the stron+ %ersion of the concei%ability ar+"ment to s" ort it& $t *o"ld seem( then( that neither the *ea) nor the stron+ %ersion of the concei%ability ar+"ment can hel Descartes resc"e his claim in behalf of the real "nion& Co"ld Descartes ossibly "se another rational rinci le to ar+"e in behalf of the real "nion# Co"ld he ar+"e( for instance( that the real "nion is lo+ically necessary beca"se it *o"ld in%ol%e some contradiction for the real "nion not to e/ist# $ do not belie%e that a%en"e is a%ailable to Descartes either& $t seems to in%ol%e no contradiction to ima+ine that body and mind mi+ht both e/ist and yet share no relation *hatsoe%er& @itho"t any *ay of "sin+ the rinci le of nonCcontradiction nor the rinci le of

Castaneda 1> concei%ability( and by intentionally a%oidin+ "sin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason( Descartes *o"ld seem to be left *ith no ar+"ment for the real "nion bet*een mind and body& @here does this lea%e Descartes %i3 a %i3 other ossible systems and his o*n +oals# $s Descartes' roject fatally "ndermined by the loss of the real "nion# ?irst of all( $ *ant to ma)e a sim le note1 Descartes' fail"re at this oint is not entirely "ne/ ected& $ndeed( some co"nterint"iti%e fail"re of this sort is bo"nd to face anyone *ho rejects the rinci le of s"fficient reason& This( in fact( *as the oint that Della Rocca intended to establish in *ritin+ his article cited earlier& Della Rocca's ar+"ment( *e mi+ht remember( attem ted to force "s to either acce t the rinci le of s"fficient reason com letely or else lose reco"rse to any e/ licability demands in any cases *hatsoe%er& :i%en that *e all ro"tinely ma)e e/ licability demands in local cases( rejectin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason on Della Rocca's terms *ill ine%itably in%ol%e some loss that *ill stri)e "s as co"nterint"iti%e& The co"nterint"iti%e res"lts of rejectin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason *o"ld "ndo"btedly stri)e "s lon+ before *e started doin+ meta hysics( as it *o"ld in%ol%e rejectin+ m"ndane concl"sions that *e reach in o"r daily li%es1 that *hen the door o ens there m"st be some reason( that *hen *e drin) o"r thirst *ill be 0"enched( etc& $ndeed( any tho"+hts *hich are based on ca"se and effect are( if Della Rocca's ar+"ment is so"nd( ille+itimate to anyone *ho denies the rinci le of s"fficient reason& The oint is not that this sit"ation *o"ld be acce table to Descartes& M"ite the contrary( $ do not belie%e Descartes *o"ld find this sit"ation alatable in the sli+htest& 2"t the oint is sim ly to the effect that Descartes is sit"ated no more oorly in this res ect than his critics are& Descartes' critics on the rinci le of this real "nion *o"ld be disarmed as m"ch as he is by the reali3ation that there is no ar+"ment for the real "nion& The rejection of any rinci le of ca"sation sim ly re0"ires "s to forfeit any a eal to e/ lanation *hen( say( my hand a ears to

Castaneda 1= raise because $ *ished it so& @hile this certainly "ndermines Descartes' o*n e/ lanation of the henomenon( it *o"ld also "ndermine any e/ lanation of it& !o it is not so m"ch that Descartes' e/ lanation is *ron+& $t is not as if there is a ri+ht ans*er to the 0"estion that Descartes j"st +ot *ron+& $t is( rather( that the 0"estion itself is ille+itimate& !o any ro osed ans*ers to the henomenon of a arent "nion *o"ld be ille+itimate& $f this is the case( then Descartes' ar+"ment +oes s"r risin+ly far& 4sin+ only the rinci les of concei%ability and nonCcontradiction( he is able to retain almost all of his meta hysics1 his o*n e/istence as a thin)in+ thin+( the e/istence of :od( the idea of clear and distinct erce tions as the standard for concei%ability& ,e is e%en able to retain the idea that body e/ists and is distinct from mind so lon+ as he "ses the stron+ %ersion of the rinci le of concei%ability& Th"s( his system does not necessarily colla se into idealism& $n rinci le( at least( he co"ld still do his science on body( altho"+h it m"st be admitted that racticin+ science *itho"t any a eal to the rinci le of ca"sation *o"ld resent its o*n s ecial challen+es that mi+ht ro%e ins"rmo"ntable& 'f co"rse( the tem tation mi+ht be to yield to ! ino3a( to acce t the co"nterint"ti%e res"lts of "sin+ the rinci le of s"fficient reason in order to a%oid the ain of sacrificin+ its "se in o"r daily li%es& 2"t if the rinci le of s"fficient reason leads to a necessitarianism as some concl"de( then it *o"ld seem that ossibilist %ersions of the rinci le of concei%ability *o"ld be incom atible *ith the rinci le of s"fficient reason& !ince o"r e/ erience seems to indicate that *e do ha%e conce tions of nonCact"al ossibilities( then there *o"ld a ear to be some tension that inherently e/ists bet*een the rinci le of s"fficient reason and the rinci le of concei%ability& This tension re0"ires f"rther e/ loration to determine if it can be resol%ed and if so( the details of s"ch a resol"tion& 4ntil that iss"e is f"rther e/ lored( then( there is a rima facie case that has been made that there is some tension bet*een the t*o ositions( s"ch that acce tin+

Castaneda 1H one of the rinci les seems to recl"de acce tin+ the other f"lly& $f one *ere to abandon Descartes ar+"ment( then( and acce t ! ino3a's there *o"ld still be some loss& $n this case( it *o"ld be o"r reco"rse to concei%ability ar+"ments& The +rass( as is said( is al*ays +reener on the other side&

Castaneda 1B @or)s Cited Della Rocca( Michael& -P!R&. Philosophers' Imprint 7ol& 10( Io& B& N"ly( 2010& Print& Della Rocca( Michael& -9 Rationalist Manifesto1 ! ino3a and the Princi le of !"fficient Reason& Philosophical !opics 7ol& 31( Ios& 1 O 2& ! rin+ and ?all( 2003& Print& PQRSTUVQRWXYQZ[WXQVXT\]X!he philosophical writings of "escartes& Trans& Nohn Cottin+ham( Robert !toothoff O D"+ald M"rdoch& Ie* ^or)1 Cambrid+e 4ni%ersity Press( 1D8>& Print& ! ino3a( 2enedict& !he #hief $orks of Benedict "e %pino&a 'ol. II. !rans. R.(.M. )lwes. London1 :eor+e 2ell and !ons( 2001& Print&