Volume 77, Issue 3, Summer 2003
Julie R. Klein
The Question of Pantheism in the Second Objections to Descartes’s Meditations
Through a close analysis of texts from the Second Objections and Replies to the Meditations, this article addresses the tension between the pursuit of certainty and the preservation of divine transcendence in Descartes’s philosophy. Via a hypothetical “atheist geometer,” the Objectors charge Descartes with pantheism. While the Objectors’ motivations are not clear, the objection raises provocative questions about the relation of the divine and the human mind and about the being of created or dependent entities in
Descartes’s metaphysics. Descartes contends that there are real, eternal essences present in the human intellect as innate ideas. I argue that this claim implicates him in pantheism, not merely univocity. In the course of the analysis, I consider recent interpretations by Wells, Marion, and Hatfield.