Cartesianism and the First-Person Perspective
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Phenomenology and Mind, (7):20–30, 2014
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Descartes’s influence is so great that it is often assumed that any philosopher who emphasizes a first-person perspective1, as I do, must be a Cartesian.
  2. I want to challenge the assumption that I am a Cartesian by setting out my view of the first-person perspective2 and its importance for being a person.
  3. Then, I shall enumerate the ways in which my conception of the first-person perspective3 differs from Descartes’s.
  4. Finally, I shall consider an alternative interpretation of Descartes, proposed by Bernard Williams. According to the alternative interpretation, Descartes was aiming at a wholly objective “absolute conception” of natural reality.
  5. I shall argue that, because of the first-person perspective4, no “absolute conception” can be a full account of natural reality.


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