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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Descartes' demon: a dialogical analysis of meditations on first philosophy
Author(s): Gillespie, Alex
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Keywords: Descartes
Issue Date: Dec-2006
Citation: Gillespie A (2006) Descartes' demon: a dialogical analysis of meditations on first philosophy, Theory and Psychology, 16 (6), pp. 761-781.
Abstract: Descartes argued that the existence of reflective thought should be the first principle of philosophy because it is indubitable. The present paper draws on Bakhtinian and Meadian theories to analyse the three key paragraphs in the Meditations in which Descartes argues this point. The analysis demonstrates: (1) that Descartes’ text contains the traces of significant others and the discourses of his time, (2) that the sequence of thoughts that leads Descartes to his first principle is fundamentally dialogical, (3) that Descartes’ self-awareness, which he takes as primary, depends upon his reflecting upon himself from the perspective of a more or less generalised other, and finally (4) that Descartes takes the perspective of the other by reversing his own reactions towards others, such that he reacts to himself in the same way that he previously reacted to others. This re-analysis challenges Cartesian solipsism, arguing that the mind, or self-reflection, is fundamentally social.
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Rights: Published in Theory & Psychology. Copyright Sage Publications. The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Theory & Psychology, 16 (6), 2006 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. ©

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