The Cogito

Term: Spring 2012

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6650

The course will involve a close analysis of Descartes' method of radical doubt and the way in which the Cogito's certainty emerges from it. In the first part of the seminar we will read carefully through the relevant parts of the Meditations (i.e.,especially the first two) and the Principles. In the second part we will consider some of the criticisms that have been leveled against Descartes over the years, including, for example, the charge of paralogisms, the rejection of Descartes' (alleged) belief that the self is transparent to the mind, and the opposition to Descartes' hope to ground foundationalist epistemology through self-knowledge. In the third part of the seminar we will move from interpreting radical doubt and the Cogito within an epistemological context to interpreting it within an ethical and normative context. Specifically, we will consider the connection between the Cogito and Descartes' virtue ethics, Kant's ethics of autonomy, and the experience of the sublime.

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