published on January 11, 2016
Generosity, the Cogito, and the Fourth Meditation
The standard interpretation of Descartes’s ethics maintains that virtue presupposes knowledge of metaphysics and the sciences. Lisa Shapiro, however, has argued that the meditator acquires the virtue of generosity in the Fourth Meditation, and that generosity contributes to her metaphysical achievements. Descartes’s ethics and metaphysics, then, must be intertwined. This view has been gaining traction in the recent literature. Omri Boehm, for example, has argued that generosity is foundational to the cogito. In this paper, I offer a close reading of Cartesian generosity, arguing that the meditator cannot acquire generosity in the Second or Fourth Meditation.