Descartes and the Puzzle of Sensory Representation

Research output: Book/ReportBook

22 Scopus citations


While much has been written on Descartes' theory of mind and ideas, no systematic study of his theory of sensory representation and misrepresentation is currently available in the literature. This book is an ambitious attempt to fill this gap. It argues against the established view that Cartesian sensations are mere qualia by defending the view that they are representational; it offers a descriptivist-causal account of their representationality that is critical of, and differs from, all other extant accounts (such as, for example, causal, teleofunctional and purely internalist accounts); and it has the advantage of providing an adequate solution to the problem of sensory misrepresentation within Descartes' internalist theory of ideas. In sum, the book offers a novel account of the representationality of Cartesian sensations; provides a panoramic overview, and critical assessment, of the scholarly literature on this issue; and places Descartes' theory of sensation in the central position it deserves among the philosophical and scientific investigations of the workings of the human mind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages204
ISBN (Electronic)9780191722455
ISBN (Print)9780199570379
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Causal accounts
  • Descartes
  • Descriptivist-causal accounts
  • Ideas
  • Internalism
  • Qualia
  • Secondary qualities
  • Sensations
  • Sensory misrepresentation
  • Teleofunctional accounts

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