Title page for ETD etd-06102009-063446

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hettche, Matthew
URN etd-06102009-063446
Title Regarding Descartes' meditations as meditational
Degree Master of Arts
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ariew, Roger Committee Chair
Pitt, Joseph C. Committee Member
Watkins, Eric Committee Member
  • mersenne
  • spiritual exercise
Date of Defense 1995-08-05
Availability restricted
Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy is often hailed as one of the great classics of western philosophy. First-time readers of the Meditations are often struck by Descartes' clear and accessible writing style. Within recent scholarship (e.g., most notably, Amelie Osksenberg Rorty's collection of Essays on Descartes' Meditations [1986]), much attention has been focused toward examining the philosophical import of Descartes' literary techniques. In particular, discussions have centered upon whether there is a significant relationship between the literary format of Descartes' "Metaphysical Meditations" with that of religious devotional exercises, also known as meditations, that were prevalent during the early part of the seventeenth century. Although commentators are fairly equally divided on whether the stylistic devices employed by Descartes are philosophically important, there is general agreement that Descartes' text, at the very least, exemplifies the features of religious meditation.

Building upon the efforts of previous scholarship, the focus of this present study is to provide a philosophically plausible and historically accurate account of how Descartes' Meditations are meditational. Much of our attention will be directed toward examining the different styles and techniques of religious meditation. In particular, we will examine the relevance of Marin Mersenne's recently rediscovered treatise L'usage de la raison (1623). This work exhibits features of an Augustinian style of religious meditation and it is a text which can be easily connected to Descartes.

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