15 - We err because we assert what is not clear and...

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We err because we assert what is not clear and distinct. Our will is infinite, Descartes claims, in that it is able to assert, deny or withhold judgment from any given idea of the understanding. The understanding, on the other hand, has its limitations. It does not have clear and distinct ideas of everything, but often issues unclear or indistinct ideas. This limitation of the understanding distinguishes us from God, for we are like God in the infinitude of our will. However, if we use our God-given faculties properly, we will assert only what we should, i.e., those ideas which are clear and distinct. Any blame for error falls on our own shoulders, and God is not, therefore, a deceiver. According to Descartes, this assignment of responsibility for our own errors assumes that we are free. He claims that we are able to recognize that when we will to assert, deny, etc., there is no external constrain. This claim has become very controversial, since it is not evident why we should be able to detect a controlling influence on our will. Even if none is
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 102 taught by Professor Markelwin during the Winter '10 term at UC Davis.

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15 - We err because we assert what is not clear and...

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