Two by Descartes

"It is always a sign of the greatness of a productive achievement when it can let issue from itself the demand that it should be understood better than it understands itself." - Heidegger ("Basic Problems of Phenomenology")

By popular request we will read Descartes "Meditations," one of the most well known works of philosophy.  As a preamble, we will first work with his "Discourse on Method," published several years earlier. 

We will round off these two essays with selections from the "Objections and Replies" to the Meditations (the correspondence between Descartes and Hobbes is not to be missed).

This is week four of the below outline.  Please read (or just come and read with us) the third and fourth Meditations.

This meetup will cover multiple weeks.  Tentative outline:

wk 1-2 "Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences"

wk 3-5 "Meditations on the First Philosophy in which the Existence of God and the Distinction between Mind and Body Are Demonstrated"

wk 6 "Objections Urged by Certain Men of Learning against the Preceding Meditations; with the Author's Replies"

If you've never read Descartes come engage with one of the seminal thinkers in philosophy.  If you've read the Meditations before, come engage again.  After all, the mind/body problem - some things never get old.

Any translation is fine, but for reading purposes we will use the Veitch translation, available here:

http://www.classicallibrary.org/descartes/meditations/index.htm

We will do a close read of the text as a means to engage with the ideas through group discussion.  No prior knowledge is assumed, and newcomers are welcome.


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  • Terry

    Thought of the day! From Reply 2, just before 133 ..."bodies are not strictly speaking perceived by the senses at all, but only by the intellect..."

    1 · September 16

    • Rick O.

      Shades of Berkeley! (to me, anyway)

      September 17

    • Terry

      That's what I thought! It's that old idealism creeping in (heh heh). Philosophy is not a natural science because as I see it, it's not interested in mind independent reality- my point of view.

      September 17

  • Terry

    The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Descartes and epistemology looks worth sharing...

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/

    July 27

    • Rick O.

      Nice - interesting that there are a lot of references to the Replies.

      July 28

    • Terry

      Glad you liked it. I think my favorite quote is: "Descartes' methodical innovation is to employ demolition for constructive ends." See you soon!

      July 28

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