By Richard Schacht
An creation to the paintings of 7 founding fathers of contemporary philosophy: Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant.
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Extra info for Classical Modern Philosophers: Descartes to Kant
In this way, knowledge having the requisite degree of certainty may be attained. ‘To avoid all errors,’ he says, ‘nothing more is required…than to use the most common rules of logic with great constancy and rigor’ (40). It is not necessary first to prove the existence and goodness of God, which would not be possible without these rules anyhow. The fact that these rules presuppose the validity of the two basic principles mentioned is no cause for worry; and the fact that they themselves cannot be proven valid is no reason to retreat into skepticism.
Leibniz suggests that I do not apprehend something clearly unless I am able to distinguish it from other things which resemble it. This is the criterion of clarity. Next, I do not apprehend something distinctly unless I am able to identify the various features of a thing which distinguish it from other things. This is the criterion of distinctness. And this involves more than clarity; for I may be able to distinguish something from other things which resemble it without being able to identify the features in virtue of which it differs from them.
Such knowledge, however, in the case of most things, is possible for God alone. And our disadvantage is even more serious than this, according to Leibniz. For on his view, a truly complete specification of the nature of most existing things would require an infinitely long analysis or specification of features; since a complete specification of the nature of an existing thing would require a specification of its relation to everything else in the universe. We can get along quite well for practical purposes with much more limited specifications; but this is what a complete knowledge of a thing would involve.