Time, Casuality and Character in Descartes' Meditations

Michael Campbell

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    René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy (1641)1 is a work steeped in temporality. The text is divided into six ‘meditations’ that are purported to occur over six ‘days’. While Descartes’ theory of temporality was not a major aspect of his thought,2 it appears in various works, most significantly in the Meditations, as well as in the Replies to the Objections (CSM, II: 66-397), and the Principles of Philosophy (CSM, I: 177-291). This article will explore the notions of temporality found within these texts, particularly the Meditations. I suggest that a reflection on Descartes’ concept of temporality is of particular interest when considered in the light of the manner in which the text itself is temporal. The temporality of the Meditations is a fictional temporality; the ‘days’ of the Meditations do not, I would suggest, represent the real historical days in which Descartes was writing this text. These fictive and stylistic elements can influence the way the text is read. Consequently, I will be drawing on theories of narrative to frame the discussion, particularly concepts of experientiality and narrativity proposed by Monika Fludernik.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-126
    Number of pages20
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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