Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

7/1/2005 - 6/30/2006

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

A Reading of Descartes's "Meditations"

FAIN: FA-51460-05

John Peter Carriero
UCLA; Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA 90024-4201)

I present a reading of the *Meditations* centered around the question of how cognitive beings like ourselves come to *understand* mind, God, and body. I suggest that the purpose of the skeptical argumentation presented in the First Meditation is not, as is usually thought, to raise questions concerning our certainty about the *existence* of the external world, but rather to begin a discussion of the role of the senses (or lack thereof) in how we *understand*, a discussion that concerns our grasp of the essences of things as opposed to our hold on the existence of things. For Descartes, issues about our understanding of *what* something is—mind, God, body—are more fundamental than our knowledge *that* something is.

Media Coverage

Between Two Worlds: A Reading of Descartes's Meditations by John Carriero (Review)
Author(s): John Cottingham
Publication: Mind
Date: 7/1/2010

Associated Products

Between Two Worlds: A Reading of Descartes's Meditations (Book)
Title: Between Two Worlds: A Reading of Descartes's Meditations
Author: John Carriero
Abstract: This book is a careful reading of Descartes's *Meditations*, one of the truly formative works for the history of Western philosophy. The *Meditations* was written in a different intellectual milieu from our own. I try to recover enough of that intellectual setting to make the philosophical power of Descartes's seminal work available to modern readers. (This involves drawing extensively on St. Thomas Aquinas's theory of human cognition and his philosophical theology, in particular, his account of how and what human beings can know about God.) By using this context to illuminate Descartes's text, I show how a coherent, philosophically rich project emerges, one that was destined to set the agenda for a century of rationalist metaphysics.
Year: 2009
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780691135601
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes