Volume 30, 2013
Concepts - Contemporary and Historical Perspectives
Conceptual Distinctions and the Concept of Substance in Descartes
Descartes’s interrelated theories of attributes and conceptual distinction (or rational distinction) are developed. This follows Nolan (1997) in identifying substances and their attributes as they exist apart from the mind’s concepts. This resource is then used to articulate a solution to a famous problem about Descartes’s concept of substance. The key is that the concept of substance is itself to be regarded as an attribute of independently existing things.