Descartes' Wax: Discovering the Nature of Mind

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Ancient Philosophy | Arts and Humanities | Classics | Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind


Descartes’ investigation of the wax in Meditation II has been the source of both frustration and a wide range of interpretation for commentators. There are, however, two components of the “order of reasons” in the Meditations which can point us to the reading of the text which is demanded by the overall picture of Descartes’ thought. These components indicate that the wax investigation is a cognitive exercise primarily intended to lead the mediator to an awareness of the mind’s power to generate ideas. In so doing, it provides the fundamental ground of the cogito. This paper will provide a close reading of the text which explains this role of the wax investigation.