What Am I? Descartes and the Mind-Body Problem

By Joseph Almog | Go to book overview

Preface

The title question is vintage Descartes. It makes its debut in his Meditations on First Philosophy, on the second page of Meditation II. I refer to it from now on as “the primal question. ” The text that follows is an attempt to trace Descartes's own answer(s) to this question.1

This book has been reconstructed, with minor alterations (footnotes, references, etc. ), from a transcript made in a UCLA introductory class, locally known as Philosophy 7, which I have taught every year since coming to UCLA in 1984. The class is given to a large audience of freshmen and sophomores, up to 350 students. Most of them take the class as a “general education” requirement, and it is thus their first, and probably last, exposure to philosophy.

The idea to teach Descartes came to me by accident. In my first year of teaching at UCLA, I had to find some large-audience class to teach. I could not teach ethics or history introductions. By elimination, I was left with Philosophy 7, then a name without any connotation for me. One day I visited the class to get a sense of what it is like to teach it. The teacher, Rogers Albritton, was reading through Meditation II. I was spellbound

____________________
1
In what follows, I have relied on The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, and D. Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), vols. I and II. I refer to the two volumes as CSM I and CSM II. I also refer to Descartes—Philosophical Letters, ed. A. Kenny (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1970). It is designated in what follows as PL.

-vii-

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What Am I? Descartes and the Mind-Body Problem
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xvi
  • Synopsis: the Project and the Challenge xvii
  • What Am I? *
  • One - The Real Distinction 3
  • Two - Integrative Dualism 59
  • Three - The Real Man 99
  • Index 125
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