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Representation and Scepticism from Aquinas to Descartes


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  • Date Published: January 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316632772

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About the Authors
  • In this book Han Thomas Adriaenssen offers the first comparative exploration of the sceptical reception of representationalism in medieval and early modern philosophy. Descartes is traditionally credited with inaugurating a new kind of scepticism by saying that the direct objects of perception are images in the mind, not external objects, but Adriaenssen shows that as early as the thirteenth century, critics had already found similar problems in Aquinas's theory of representation. He charts the attempts of philosophers in both periods to grapple with these problems, and shows how in order to address the challenges of scepticism and representation, modern philosophers in the wake of Descartes often breathed new life into old ideas, remoulding them in ways that we are just beginning to understand. His book will be valuable for historians interested in the medieval background to early modern thought, and to medievalists looking at continuity with the early modern period.

    • The first book to investigate the link between theories of scepticism and representation across both the medieval and early modern periods
    • Looks at the contributions made by less well-known figures as well as major philosophers, enabling readers to gain a broader knowledge of the issues
    • Argues that critics of Aquinas ought to be credited for philosophical approaches traditionally attributed to early readers of Descartes
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    • Winner, 2018 JHP Book Prize, Journal of the History of Philosophy

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Adriaenssen's rich and detailed study, which carefully evaluates the extant literature (in English, German, French and Italian) and offers subtle interpretations of difficult texts, makes a real contribution to the research on medieval and early modern theories of cognition. It will be indispensable reading for students and scholars working on this topic.' Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316632772
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 4 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Veil of Species:
    1. Through species to the world. Aquinas and Henry of Ghent
    2. Perception without intermediaries. Olivi's critique of species
    3. Direct realism about perception and beyond. Auriol and Ockham
    Part II. The Veil of Cartesian Ideas:
    4. Transformations of Cartesianism. Malebranche and Arnauld
    5. Ideas and objects in Desgabets's radical Cartesianism
    6. The solid philosophy of John Sergeant
    Part III. Representations and Scepticism:
    7. From representation to object
    8. Criteriological problems

  • Author

    Han Thomas Adriaenssen, University of Groningen
    Han Thomas Adriaenssen is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands. He has published a number of journal articles on medieval and early modern philosophy.


    • Winner, 2018 JHP Book Prize, Journal of the History of Philosophy

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