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

Blind, Mad, Dreamy, and Bad

Kyoo Lee

Publication Year: 2012

Focusing on the first four images of the Other mobilized in Descartes' Meditations--namely, the blind, the mad, the dreamy, and the bad--Reading Descartes Otherwise casts light on what have heretofore been the phenomenological shadows of "Cartesian rationality." In doing so, it discovers dynamic signs of spectral alterity lodged both at the core and on the edges of modern Cartesian subjectivity. Calling for a Copernican reorientation of the very notion "Cartesianism," the book's series of close, creatively critical readings of Descartes' signature images brings the dramatic forces, moments, and scenes of the cogito into our own contemporary moment. The author patiently unravels the knotted skeins of ambiguity that have been spun within philosophical modernity out of such cliches as "Descartes, the abstract modern subject" and "Descartes, the father of modern philosophy"--a figure who is at once everywhere and nowhere. In the process, she revitalizes and reframes the legacy of Cartesian modernity, in a way more mindful of its proto-phenomenological traces.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-6


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pp. vii-8

References and Abbreviations for the Works of Descartes

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pp. ix-xi

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Preamble I: If Descartes Remains Overread and Underexplored . . .

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pp. 1-5

Reading, or otherwise sitting on, the work of René Descartes (March 31, 1596–February 11, 1650) with the quiet pleasure I see in a g(r)azing cow, I have been savoring, and saving somewhere, this nagging thought: His philosophy—his “Cartesianism,” his “rationalism,” his “methodological” doubt, his theoretical “self-centeredness,” his...

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Preamble II: Descartes Needs Rereading

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pp. 6-13

My mind seems to have been actively suspended by certain constantly slippery gaps and cinematic interplays between the memory of my own first unschooled encounter with Descartes, the shock of the Meditations (1641) on the one hand, and the usual scholarly scenes of interpretation, or scholastic “filters” around that...

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A Stage Setup: Reframing “Jeux Descartes

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pp. 14-45

“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...

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Scene 1: Blind Vision: A Photographic Touch

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pp. 46-82

Indeed, “how easy it is to be mistaken” (s’y tromper) (O, 6:147/113), how easy it is to see that truth: “How crystal clear everything would be in our philosophy if only we would exorcise these specters, make illusions or objectless perceptions out of them, brush them to one side of an unequivocal world!”1 That is, Merleau-Ponty...

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Scene 2: Elastic Madness: An Allegorical Comedy

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pp. 83-115

In the four-page opening passage of chapter 2 of the History of Madness1 and later in the essay “My Body, This Paper, This Fire,”2 Michel Foucault launched a point-by-point self-defense against Derrida. Previously, in his forty-six page essay “The Cogito and the History of Madness,”3 Derrida had pointed to some traces...

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Scene 3: Philopoetic Somnambulism: An Imaginary Freedom

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pp. 116-148

By “dream,” I mean both the projective kind, futural, as in “my dream is to become an American Idol,” and the retrospective kind, nocturnal, as in “I was a Kafka in my dream last night.” Either way, the dreamer can imagine, think, otherwise. For dream is an excess and a necessary excess that shapes desire. It knows neither bounds...

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Scene 4: Cornered Reflection: With and around an Evil Genius

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pp. 149-181

“I don’t believe in God but I miss him,” says Julian Barnes.1 “I don’t believe he exists but I dislike him anyway,” says Wendy Lesser.2 While working on a project, the completion of which seems to take much longer than expected, Descartes says to his fiend Mersenne, “I too am too much in love with the fable of my...


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pp. 183-201


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pp. 203-213


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pp. 215-219

E-ISBN-13: 9780823250493
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823244843
Print-ISBN-10: 0823244849

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Text