Meeting 17

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DATE: Tuesday, November 3

TIME: 1 PM Princeton time (EST) / 8 PM Bucharest time (GMT+2)

PANEL : Descartes: Language, Sense and Imagination

SPEAKERS: Igor Agostini (University of Salento) & Hanoch Ben-Yami (Central European University)


Sense and Imagination in Meditation II

Igor Agostini (University of Salento)

This paper proposes to read the passage of Descartes’s Meditation II from AT VII 27, l. 18 to AT VII 29, l. 18 (B Op I 716-718) as a sort of ‘phenomenological description’, made by the meditator, of his mental acts, aiming at a redefinition of sensibility and imagination. This redefinition do not simply lead to their inclusion in the res cogitans (as cogitationes), but to a resignification which allows their unification and, at the same time, their distinction under the cogitatio, or in other words, which allows to distinguish them from one another and both from the intellection.

Language, Sign and Representation in Descartes

Hanoch Ben-Yami (Central European University)

In the first chapter of his The World, Descartes compares light to words and discusses signs and ideas. This made scholars read into that passage our views of language as a representational medium and consider it Descartes’ model of representation in perception. This interpretation, however, fails to do justice to the text, in several ways. I show, by contrast, that Descartes does not ascribe there any representational role to language; that to be a sign is for him to have a kind of causal role; and that he is concerned there only with the cause’s lack of resemblance to its effect, not with the representation’s lack of resemblance to what it represents. I support this interpretation by comparisons with other places in Descartes’ corpus and by reference to earlier authors, his likely sources. This interpretation may shed light both on Descartes’ understanding of the functioning of language and on the development of his theory of representation in perception.

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