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Grant number like: FA-51460-05

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

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2005 – 6/30/2006

A Reading of Descartes's "Meditations"

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.