A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
“I certainly seem to see” : Embodiment in the Second Meditation (2019)

Yrjönsuuri, M. (2019). “I certainly seem to see” : Embodiment in the Second Meditation. In M. Reuter, & F. Svensson (Eds.), Mind, Body, and Morality : New Perspectives on Descartes and Spinoza (pp. 59-74). Routledge. Routledge Studies in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, 19. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351202831-5

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Yrjönsuuri, Mikko

Parent publication: Mind, Body, and Morality : New Perspectives on Descartes and Spinoza

Parent publication editors: Reuter, Martina; Svensson, Frans

ISBN: 978-0-8153-8494-6

eISBN: 978-1-351-20283-1

Journal or series: Routledge Studies in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy

Publication year: 2019

Number in series: 19

Pages range: 59-74

Number of pages in the book: 274

Publisher: Routledge

Place of Publication: New York

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351202831-5

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


The chapter provides a new interpretation of Descartes’s account of the experience of seeing and sensory perception in general, at the stage of the Meditations at which the meditator is in denial of having a body. In the then traditional theories of vision, vision was taken to be an essentially bodily activity, which could not take place without a body. Descartes accepts this approach. Thus, the meditator is not in the Second meditation claiming to be certain of seeing, because there is no certainty of anything bodily. There is certainty, however, on an appearance of seeing, of “seeming to see”, in which the corporeal world and the body is experientially present to the meditator. In skeptical doubt, the meditator just voluntarily refrains from all judgments based on this aspect of experience. The chapter shows that Descartes’s core attitude to sensory perception is that we must retain voluntary control over what we judge on the basis of actual sensory experience, remaining independent from what it suggests to be the case. Even in relation to sensory perception, Descartes thus sees us as active persons who make responsible judgments. To have a mind is not primarily to be capable of passive experience, but to have voluntary agency.

Keywords: philosophy of mind; mind and body; senses; eyesight; sensations (mental objects); perceptions (mental objects); human agency

Free keywords: Descartes, René

Fields of science:

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2022-24-11 at 22:25