How to Read Descartes's <em> Meditations </em>

978-1-58731-355-4
New Books
Cloth $25
232 pages, 6"x9", footnotes, bibliography, index

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How to Read Descartes's Meditations

Janowski, Zbigniew

How to Read Descartes's Meditations consists of seven independent studies of Descartes's Meditations. The discussion in each chapter is organized around one problem which either has never or very seldom been explored in Cartesian scholarship. For example, in the study of the Letter to the Sorbonne, Janowski centers his discussion around the decree of the Lateran Council, showing the unorthodox character of Descartes's conception of the soul. Further, in his chapter devoted to the notoriously difficult proof for the existence of God in the Third Meditation, Janowski shows that to understand properly Descartes's explicitly Scholastic proof is to read it as a reformulation of Duns Scotus's own proof. And in the final chapter on the Sixth Meditation, the author shows that Modern (Cartesian) Man – the man whose soul is no longer the Scholastic anima but blood that animates his bones, veins, and muscles - germinated in the writings of Francis Bacon, a predecessor never properly acknowledged by Descartes.

How to Read Descartes's Meditations is the first collection of essays on the Meditations that makes a conscious effort to read Descartes's philosophy as a reaction against or an acknowledgment of Scholastic, Renaissance, and the Reformation sources. It will become a standard book for students of modern philosophy.

Zbigniew Janowski is author of Augustinian-Cartesian Index (St. Augustine’s Press, 2004), Cartesian Theodicy: Descartes’ Quest for Certitude (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000), and the editor of Leszek Kolakowski’s The Two Eyes of Spinoza and Other Essays on Philosophers and My Correct Views on Everything (both from St. Augustine’s Press, 2004) He is a member of the Centre d'Etudes Cartésiennes, Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne.