Reading Descartes Otherwise: Blind, Mad, Dreamy, and Bad

By Kyoo Lee | Go to book overview

A STAGE SETUP
Reframing “Jeux Descartes”

For it was you alone who roused me from my state of indolence, and
reawakened the learning which by then had almost disappeared from my
memory…. [Tu enim revera solus es qui desidiosum excitasti jam è memoriâ
pene elapsam eruditionem revocasti…
.]

—Descartes’ letter to Isaac Beeckman, April 23, 1619 (C, 10:162/3:4)


Why Should One Think (Descartes) Again?

Where is René Descartes today—one who “lived, thought and died”?1


“DESCARTES”

“Descartes, a French national icon,”2 once an epochal Wunderkind and now nearly indistinguishable from the history of reading him, is for many scholars today a poster boy or a whipping boy, a hero or a villain: a “solipsist,” “narcissist,” “rationalist,” “idealist,” “reductionist,” “deductivist,” “dualist,” “closeted skeptic/atheist/materialist,” and so on. Biographically, compositionally, geographically, historically, politically, psychoanalytically, scientifically, theologically (etc., etc., etc.), he remains a fascinatingly troubling source for and a manifold index to modern philosophy and beyond. Everyone, thinker or not, as long as he or she is thinking, readily has something critical to say about

-14-

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