Descartes's account of indifference

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Abstract

This article considers Descartes's statements on the ‘liberty of indifference’, where indifference is understood as there being, at any one moment, alternative paths that one might take in life. I suggest that Descartes is hugely preoccupied with how we can hold onto more than one idea at the same time, and I pay close literary attention to the ways in which Descartes's stated goals of clarity and firmness interact with this philosophical interest in indifference and vacillation. I contend that we need to identify in Descartes a fascination with the complexity of mental states, and to rethink the account generally given of Descartes's thoughts on indifference.

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