Volume 70, 2018
Renaissance and Modern Philosophy
Descartes and the Suspension of Judgment – Considerations of Cartesian Skepticism and Epoché
In this paper I will argue how Descartes in the First and Second Meditation of the Meditations uses a very clear suspension of judgments or assent that in many ways resembles the epoché of the ancient skepticism, especially that of pyrrhonistic variant. First I show how the pyrrhonistic epoché works and what purpose it was used. After that I show how this Cartesian epoché both resembles and differs from the ancient epoché. My main argument is that Descartes, when using the method of doubt, doesn’t really dismiss or abandon earlier knowledge or beliefs, as he is sometimes been viewed, but more likely doesn’t take any stance in them, suspending his judgment on the existence of the outside-world. I base my argument both on my reading of Meditations and the “as it were sensing” -interpretation of Descartes’ use of method of doubt by John Carriero.