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[Philosophy 100] Descartes' Meditations (Meditations 3 and 4)

  • Jan 17, 2013 · 7:00 PM

The second meeting will cover the third and fourth Meditations
- Meditation III: Concerning God, That He Exists, and
- Meditation IV: Concerning the True and the False

The presenter will be: Mark

A synopsis of the text is available from Wikipeadia at:

The text itself is available from the Gutenberg Archive at:

or here:


A note on our methodology.
READING: We don't tackle the full text in one sitting. We read smaller pieces of the text so we may have more detailed and (hopefully) rewarding discussion at the meetings. We will follow natural breaks in the texts and try to ensure no text takes longer than three months to read in full.

PRESENTATION: One member of the group will be responsible for presenting the reading at each meeting. The presenter should come prepared, preferably with notes to share with the other members of the group. Presentation is voluntary and really just ensures that at least ONE member of the group has actually read the assignment critically. Presenters are decided at the previous meeting and it is entirely voluntary (i.e. no one will force you to present).

SCHEDULE: We will try to schedule our meetings twice a month; on the first and third Thursday.

SECONDARY/SUPPLEMENT READING: We may - often - supplement the primary text with some secondary or supplemental reading to better understand/situate the text.

Other authors/works we intend to cover (in no particular order):

Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince"

John Locke,

David Hume, "A Treatise of Human Nature", and "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding"

Thomas Hobbes, "Leviathan"

Jean-Jacques Rousseau,

Plato, "Symposium", and"Republic"



Hegel, "Phenomenology of Spirit"


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  • Mark

    Although it was a very small group this time, we had a very wide-ranging and lively discussion. The summaries and notes distributed are posted on the message board. We covered the main ideas of the 3rd and 4th Meditations, and discussed a number of concepts found there including those of infinity, causality, free will and God. We also talked about how they contrast or fare with modern scientific developments. No decision was made on who’ll present next time, though we agreed we’d all generally be making the effort to read the final two Meditations and be coming ready to have a discussion. We also mentioned that we should perhaps try to make it easier for people to find us.

    January 18, 2013

    • Joe G.

      Thanks for the summary Mark :) i thought it was so nice of Mark to prepare those handouts for us. and i actually read through his materials before i attended the meetup. i am sure the attached handout will be useful for ppl who missed the discussion. im just so glad we didnt try to go thru all 6 meditations in one sitting. The meditator did come up with quite a bit for us to chew on. Maybe we can try to go without a presenter for 5th and 6th ? since everyone seems to be making some effort to read ....

      January 19, 2013

  • Caroline Mikaella S.

    Hi guys, I can't make it for this round at the eleventh hour. Apologies! Have a blast and see you guys at the next session.

    January 17, 2013

  • Mischa B.

    I have to travel on business this week. Unfortunately, I'll miss this week's meetup. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes. Enjoy!

    January 16, 2013

  • Mark

    No one's suggested a different place, so I've put the venue as the same one as the last time. Look for a small cluster of bookish-looking people discussing or anticipating arrivals.

    January 16, 2013

  • Mark changed the location to Han's

    January 16, 2013

  • Joe G.

    i am really struggling thru the text. now i understand why ppl dont always read from the source and instead read ppl's interpretation of what those great works are about. i actually laugh out loud, as i am reading thru the 39 short paragraphs in his 3rd meditation, imagining Descartes walking besides me, thinking aloud, and ill be thinking "this guy must be slightly mad ! what is he going on about ???!!!" hahaha. ill probably go thru Mark's summary after im done with the source text.

    January 15, 2013

    • Mark

      The Third Meditation is the longest of the six, and arguably the most difficult one, so if you can’t get everything he’s writes there, don’t worry, just try to grasp the main threads; the Sparks Notes are a good help.

      The clunkiness of translation probably makes it harder to read; the one by John Veitch seems like a pretty awful translation. I think the translation in the Gutenberg website reads much better.

      January 16, 2013

  • Joe G.

    regarding location. lets leave it empty ? if anyone else has a nice location, feel free to suggest. if no suggestions a day (or two) before 17th Jan, then we may just fall back on Hans. thanks.

    January 5, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      The one at Pickering Street at the Great Eastern Centre

      January 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    sounds like an excellent idea.

    off-topic, I saw these two articles that I would like to share. kinda sad though.

    January 5, 2013

  • Joe G.

    not sure about u guys. was struggling with 3rd meditation. so tried reading other's interpretation of what he is saying. then i started reading on formal reality & objective reality - and im like WHAT ??!! i cant believe ppl came up with ideas like these. its definitely interesting, but just so bizarre, at the same time. philosophers must definitely be fairly creative ppl to think of the world as such.

    January 10, 2013

  • Charmaine

    Ahh I'm so sorry I have been RSVP-ing but have not been able to show up because work ends a little later then I would like it to. But I will definitely try to make it down this time!

    January 7, 2013

    • Joe G.

      sure :) see u soon :)

      January 7, 2013

    • Caleb Y.

      i was busy. so sorry i will be there with the confirmed rsvp. hope to see you guys soon

      January 7, 2013

  • Joe G.

    thanks for sharing - i glanced thru the comments and found this:
    "i'm a professor and i make a lousy salary. i love teaching and research, however, and the sabbaticals are great. you have to balance this stuff out. everything is not about the $$"

    sometimes, i think thats one of the balances in life - making an attempt to find some meaning in life while trying to make ends meet. hopefully, they are not mutually exclusive, and we can, to some extent, do both simultaneously :)

    January 5, 2013

  • Joe G.

    ohm. :) anyway, not sure if this was mentioned previously. we decided on a Thurs, cos we figured Fri is kinda like a family / friends day for ppl, so ppl may not want to come down and talk about what dead ppl from a long time ago, have to say. see u ppl in 2 weeks !

    January 5, 2013

  • Joe G.

    yay !

    January 4, 2013

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