Descartes’ Meditative Turn


Rene Descartes remains best known as the founder of modern philosophy and science who broke decisively with his Scholastic and, thus, religious predecessors. This talk challenges this conventional view by taking seriously the title of his opus magnum Meditations on First Philosophy and examining the role of meditative thought and practice in his philosophy. By tracing his debt to the long tradition of spiritual exercises, which reaches back to ancient philosophy, it paints an image of Descartes that is decidedly less modern and secular, but more fitting with his cultural environment and his lifelong preoccupation with the exercise of thought.