Meditations, Objections, and Replies - René Descartes, Roger Ariew Descartes tested his arguments from Meditations on First Philosophy by eliciting objections from some impressive thinkers in his day. John Duns Scotus, Marin Mersenne, Thomas Hobbes, and Antoine Arnauld among others. Some misinterpret his arguments, some make pointed objections and one is just an obnoxious dick (looking at you, Hobbes).

Descartes drafts replies and thereby adds a great deal of depth to the Meditations. He seems to relish the opportunity to elaborate on points. Sometimes, Descartes’ replies gloss over the merits of the objections but, overall, he makes a dedicated effort to address the holes in his arguments. With unabashed fondness, Arnauld’s respectful and thoughtful objections are treated most thoroughly. Descartes is rather dismissive of Hobbes and rightly so. Hobbes’ objections are less about exploring substance than preserving an air of cynical brilliance.

Descartes builds on the strength of intuitive discovery and his definitions for clear and distinct premises. These are not perfect arguments but I challenge anyone to find a more solid foundation in those thinkers that came before him. The format of the replies and the objections give use a way to eavesdrop on an intelligent conversation without the burden of moving food around on our plate and nodding thoughtfully.