The Mystical Dreams of Descartes - Exploring the Origins of Rationalism and Modernity


In this episode we explore the non-rational origins of rationalism by investigating a series of dreams had by Rene Descartes - thought to have founded rationalism and modern philosophy - on the night of November 10/11, 1619. Early in his career Descartes, like many intellectuals of his day, was searching for new intellectual and scientific foundations as the worldview provided by Aristotle had become moribund. In this search, Descartes explores many avenues for the truth from strict logic to mystical Rosicrucianism. In this context, he experiences a profound fit of 'enthusiasm' and has a series of three dreams which ground and propel his own foundationalist project. This episode explores how the origins of rationalism and modernity are simply more esoteric, even mystical, than we typically learn in intellectual history or philosophy classes.

Recommended Readings:

Adrien Baillet - La vie de Monsieur Descartes -
John Cottingham - The Philosophical Writings of Descartes in 3 vols.
Alice Browne - Descartes's Dreams -
Michael Keevak
- Descartes's Dreams and Their Address for Philosophy -
William Shea - Descartes and the Rosicrucian Enlightenment - Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Pages 73-99
Frances A. Yates - The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, pgs 113 et passim

#descartes #philosophy #rationalism

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