One of the points of interest in our Summer Seminar has been to get a basic understanding of the philosophical drift of Modern Western Philosophy. Some of us are engaged with contemporary literary theory, and need to see how Foucault ended up where he did. Others keep hearing “Enlightenment” and “nominalism” thrown around, and want to pin it down.
In any case, for a starter we’re going to just look at what Descartes did that launched the whole project. I’ve prepared a list of philosophical primary texts and handy discussions & notes, themed on treatments of and responses to the basic Cartesian cogito that should help anyone (with some patience with jargon, and some resistance to intellectual intoxication) to build the “spine” for further exploration.
If you have to be selective, I’d say read the Descartes, then SEP articles, then Hegel on Descartes, and then as much Husserl as you can manage. The rest of what you’re likely to want to know can be fitted around these.
- Descartes, Discourse on Method. <http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/descartes/rene/d44dm/>. Concentrate on 1, 4, and 5.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) on “Descartes’ Ontological Argument.” <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-ontological/#2>.
- Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/locke-the-works-vol-1-an-essay-concerning-human-understanding-part-1>. Book I; Book II, Chapter 1.
- SEP on Locke, Essay Book IV. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/#BooIV>.
- SEP on 17C theories of consciousness, section on Locke. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/locke-the-works-vol-1-an-essay-concerning-human-understanding-part-1>.
- Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1442#lf0330_label_261>. Read opening portion on “Paralogisms of Pure Reason.”
- Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, section on Descartes. <http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/hp/hpdescar.htm>. Particularly important for observing the Cartesian transposition of God’s place in the universe.
- Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. <http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/nietzsche/1886/beyond-good-evil/ch01.htm>. Read paragraphs 16 & 17.
- Sullivan, “Nietzsche’s Anticipation of Russell.” <http://www.lehman.edu/deanhum/philosophy/BRSQ/09feb/sullivan.htm>. Read section II, “Nietzsche on the Cogito.”
- Husserl, Cartesian Meditations. <http://archive.org/details/CartesiamMeditations>. Skim Introduction, Read “First Meditation.”
- Scott, “Husserl’s Ideas on a Pure Phenomenology and On a Phenomenological Philosophy.” <http://www.angelfire.com/md2/timewarp/husserl.html>. Brief introduction to Husserl’s terminology, will help you a lot in understanding 20C Continental Philosophy.
- Jennings, “Doubt, Certainty and Knowledge in the Context of the Critique of Descartes’ Cogito in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception.” <http://www.philosophypathways.com/essays/jennings1.html>.
- SEP on Heidegger. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger/#CriCar>. Read “The Critique of Cartesianism.”
- SEP on Foucault. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/#4.2>. Read entire section on “The Order of Things.”
- Wikipedia on Derrida, “Cogito and The History of Madness.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito_and_the_History_of_Madness#Argument_concerning_Descartes>. Read “Argument concerning Descartes” to firm up background for other readings.
- Lain on Derrida/Foucault argument concerning Cogito, two posts: <http://partiallyexaminedlife.com/2015/05/28/madness-as-ontology-catching-foucaults-quote-mining/> and <http://partiallyexaminedlife.com/2015/08/11/foucaults-madman-and-his-reply-to-derrida-2/>.
- Review of a book of essays on the unfolding of the Derrida/Foucault argument concerning Cogito. <http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/foucaultderrida-fifty-years-later-the-futures-of-genealogy-deconstruction-and-politics/>. Note especially comments gleaned from Naas.
- Zizek, “Cogito, Madness and Religion: Derrida, Foucault, and then Lacan.” <http://www.lacan.com/zizforest.html>.