History of Philosophy Workshop: Huimin Liu, "Descartes on Materially False Ideas and Their Objective Reality"


Location: Maritain Library (Geddes 437)


Please join us as we continue our lunchtime history of philosophy workshops! Each meeting will consist of a presentation by a graduate student or faculty on a project that they are working on in the history of philosophy, followed by a period of comments/questions from the other participants. The workshop is designed to give grad students and faculty the opportunity to develop ideas and receive helpful feedback on projects/papers in a friendly and low stakes environment. 

This week's presenter is Huimin Liu, PhD student in Notre Dame's Philosophy department. Her talk is entitled "Descartes on Materially False Ideas and Their Objective Reality."

Abstract: In the Third Meditation, Descartes introduces a special kind of idea that represents non-things as things. Such ideas, called materially false ideas (MFIs), pose several problems to Descartes’s general theory of ideas. This paper identifies two problematic tendencies with the current interpretations of MFIs and establishes a new interpretation that avoids both of them. According to this new interpretation, MFIs are ideas that represent what cannot exist in reality and are formed by a complex cognition in which ideas that are incompatible in real actuality are combined. They are false not because they misrepresent their objects by representing other objects but because they fail to represent their objects sufficiently as they are. Based on this new interpretation, the paper will further argue that contrary to a widely accepted view among commentators, MFIs do contain objective reality, and this does not lead to inconsistency between the existence of MFIs and Descartes’s general theory of ideas.

Lunch is provided with sign-up! For more information, please email Dylan MacFarlane (dmacfarl@nd.edu). We hope to see you there!