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162Philosophy and Literature 8.It would be less natural, but still not downright odd, if he were interpreting the dream in French, for him to interpret vent as espirit. I am much indebted to Charles Young and Nancy Hayles for characteristically helpful suggestions here and at other points in this article. 9.At the start of the Discourse, Descartes enjoins his reader to regard "this Treatise as a history, or, if you prefer it, a fable" (p. 83). In other words, I shall not lie to you, but do not assume that I shall tell you the whole truth. 10.Since I developed this notion of Descartes as a tentative magician I have read Frances Yates's review of Brian P. Copenhaver's Symphorien Champier and the Reception of the Occultist Tradition in Renaissance France in the New York Review of Books (Nov. 22, 1979). At the end of her review, and after referring to Newton's concealment of his interest in alchemy, Yates asks, "Does this concealment of part of their outlook also affect other famous figures, for example, Descartes?" 11.This is the version of the choice which the Discourse also described him as having faced: he decided, he says, "to be a spectator rather than an actor in all the comedies the world displays" (p. 99). 12.I use this expression, without intending to attribute a specific neurosis to Descartes, in order to draw the reader's attention to interesting parallels between Descartes's personality and some of the clinical cases described by R. D. Laing. See his The Divided Self (London: Tavistock, 1959). See also, more generally on the schizoid personality, H.J. S. Guntrip, Schizoid Phenomena, Object Relations and the Self (New York: International University Press, 1969); W. Ronald D. Fairbairn, Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976), p. 31. I am very grateful to my friend and colleague, Dr. Louis Breger, for calling my own attention to these parallels. 13.See W. T. Jones, The Sciences and the Humanities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965), pp. 273ff. APPENDIX DESCARTES'S OLYMPICA' translated by John F. Benton He [Descartes] informs us that on November 10, 1619, after going to bed full of inspiration and completely absorbed by the thought of having that very day discovered the foundations of marvelous knowledge, he had in a single night three consecutive dreams, which he believed could only have come from on high. After going to sleep, his imagination was struck by the appearance of some phantoms who appeared to him and who frightened him so much John Benton163 that, thinking he was walking through the streets, he was forced to turn over on his left side in order to get to the place where he wanted to go, because he felt a great weakness on his right side, on which he could not support himself. Ashamed of proceeding in this fashion, he made an effort to stand up, but he felt a windstorm which, carrying him along in a sort of whirlwind, made him make three or four turns on his left foot. So far this did not frighten him. The difficulty he had in dragging himself along made him expect to fall at each step, until he saw along his route an open college and went into it to find shelter and a remedy for his problem. He tried to reach the college chapel, where he first thought he would go to pray, but realizing that he had passed a man of his acquaintance without greeting him, he wished to retrace his steps to address him properly and was violently hurled back by the wind which blew against the church. At the same time he saw in the middle of the college courtyard someone else, who in a respectful and polite fashion called him by name and said to him that if he was willing to go find Monsieur N., he had something to give him. M. Descartes fancied that it was a melon which had been imported from some foreign country. But what surprised him more was to see that the people who joined this man in gathering around to converse with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 162-166
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-28
Open Access
No
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