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malleable’ (p109).Finally, Descartes says that his own existence is now more certain still than that of thewax. For whether or not the wax actually exists, the fact that I can judge that it does,means that I must exist.CommentsDescartes has here introduced the terms ‘clear’ and ‘distinct’ without giving an explanation of whathe means, and so we will need to try to work out what he means as we go. [cf. Principles I, 45]Since the conclusion that the sensible properties were not distinctlycomprehended in the wax issupposed to follow from the observation that the sensible properties change without the waxceasing to exist, it would seem that Descartes wants to argue that distinct comprehension has todo with grasping the unchanging or permanent properties of a thing. It may be, therefore, that he ismaking a distinction which parallels that between primary and secondary qualities - i.e. betweengeometrical and mathematical properties like extension and mobility which are perceived clearlyand distinctly since they are amenable to mathematical description, and those such as colour andodour which are not. So the idea would be that I can conceive of an object without any colour,smell etc. but not one without any size and position, and this shows that the latter are essential tomy idea of body. (This interpretation of his intentions here would fit well, as we shall see, withDescartes’ considered view of the essential nature of body. Clearly, however, at this stage - sincehe doesn’t know whether or not bodies exist at all - he cannot yet be distinguishing betweenproperties which actually are in objects themselves, from those which are not.)However if this is his intention the obvious problem is that neither set of properties (primary orsecondary) in the wax example is unchanging. Its shape changes just as much as does its colour.And while it always retains some shape, no less must it retain somecolour. Although it remainsextended and flexible, it also remains coloured.Despite this difficulty it is clear that the conclusion that the wax has been understood all along bythe mind alone rather than by imagination or sense relies on the observation that I recognise thewax to be the same regardless of its various transformations. The wax appears to be more thanthe set of perceivable or imaginable properties. Here the idea seems to be that since nothing thathas been observed by the senses has remained constant the observation that the wax is the samemust be made by the mind. Since imagination is restricted to what it actually observes and cannotimagine innumerable variations the judgementthat it is the same wax must be the work of themind.Descartes is arguing that I do not see the waxas such but merely its sensible qualities, just as I donot see people in the street, but merely their clothing (p110). And yet I think of it as more than thefinite set of qualities I have seen or can imagine. The only thing however that we cannot abstractaway is its being flexible, movable and extended. In other words I do not know the wax simply in