Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

The creation of the eternal truths and the nature of God in Descartes

Daniel Patrick Kaufman, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Descartes held the seemingly bizarre doctrine that the eternal truths are freely created by God. This ‘Creation Doctrine’ has been the subject of great misunderstandings and ridicule from philosophers and theologians from the seventeenth century to the present. This dissertation is a sympathetic interpretation of Descartes' Creation Doctrine. After first briefly examining some alternative views concerning the relationship between the eternal truths and God, I argue that Descartes is committed to the Creation Doctrine because of his acceptance of traditional theological views concerning the nature of God, in particular, God's simplicity and freedom. I then argue that Descartes' Creation Doctrine, contrary to the claims of some recent commentators, does not entail any bizarre modal theses. For instance, the fact that God could have willed that the eternal truths are false does not entail that there are no necessary truths. I conclude by offering an interpretation of Descartes' explanation of the necessity of the eternal truths. We will see that the Creation Doctrine (i) is theologically well-grounded, (ii) does not affect ordinary modal claims, and (iii) in fact, guarantees the necessity of the eternal truths.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Kaufman, Daniel Patrick, "The creation of the eternal truths and the nature of God in Descartes" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9988805.