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Volume 30, 2013

Concepts - Contemporary and Historical Perspectives

Alan Nelson
Pages 192-205
DOI: 10.5840/protosociology20133010

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.

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