prof. dr. M. (Martin) Lenz | 2019-02-01 13:20:05

Great post, Andrea! - Regarding your point that no one took the title seriously, I am reminded of co-organising a workshop with Marcel van Ackeren and John Marenbon in Cambridge in November 2007. It was called "Meditation before the ‘Meditations’". Our guiding question was: what did Descartes actually refer to with that title? Sadly, we never got round to publishing the contributions. It is far from clear what Descartes has in mind when speaking of meditation. I remember diving into a great amount of later medieval theories of prayer and such like. Without wanting to be dismissive, I would start out (again) from notions available to Descartes, i.e. the later medieval discussions that he might have known. You will find whole traditions that are still neglected by main-stream historiography: mysticism, theories of prayer, theories of cogitatio as linked to imaginatio. What have you! All understudied stuff! Before complaining about the obsession with arguments, one might want to ask what the *connection* between such styles of thinking is. So while I like the idea of emphasising the notion of meditation by links to Buddhism, I would also ask for *historical* connections between such notions of meditation. It goes without saying that would love to be involved in such a project.

dr. A. (Andrea) Sangiacomo | 2019-02-01 14:24:36

Hi Martin, thanks for this. I'm glad you picked up the provocation. You should publish those contributions! Christia Mercer recently worked on that as well. So yes, there are exceptions and I was targeting more what I perceive as a sort of 'mainstream' or default understanding of Descartes. I'm very interested in understanding other 'styles of thinking'. My sense is that I don't understand them well enough because I've been so far deeply influenced to think that 'if it's not argumentative, it's not philosophical'. So, this is mostly self-criticism (sic!). ----Also, my point regarding the Buddhist bit, is not that I think this may be a source or a way of understanding what Descartes himself wanted to achieve. My point is more that it's a sort of outsider perspective that comes with enough strangeness to point out shortcomings and problems in Descartes's discussion that you would hardly detect if you would look from close. So, it's a kind of 'cross-cultural-distant-reading'...

prof. dr. M. (Martin) Lenz | 2019-02-03 15:09:59

Thanks, Andrea! We've just missed this conference. See here, abstracts too:

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