Philosophy Journal Request
October 31, 2006 2:55 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have access to a subscription to the British Journal for the History of Philosophy (1996 article) that I could borrow / Request a PDF from?

The particular article is Rozemond, M. 'The First Meditations and the Senses' British Journal for the History of Philosophy 4 (1996) pp 21-52.

My tutor failed to alert us that our university doesn't have the archives back that far, this is after putting in a number of hours researching and taking notes from the other other suggested source for a particular question.

If anyone could aid me in any way, or give any insight into Descartes real intentions in raising skeptical doubt, that'd be greatly appreciated.
posted by takeyourmedicine to Education (33 answers total)
This would surely be copyright violation?

The best approach is going to be to ask your university library to get such a subscription. Often they'll agree to pay to get this in, especially if you can show it's relevant to a course they teach.

Apologies if you've already tried that route.
posted by edd at 3:02 AM on October 31, 2006

The online access here only goes back to 2000. They have the physical copy in the library, but that would involve walking across campus, photocopying, and posting. Or scanning. Which would be a bit of an arse. Email me if noone else comes up with the goods though - I might fancy a stroll later.
posted by handee at 3:07 AM on October 31, 2006

Are there any other (possibly larger) universities in your area? Would you not be able to search their catalogues and see if they have it in hard copy?

My internet isn't liking me at the moment, so I cant search my uni library for online databases with the journal. I'll try again in the morning.
posted by cholly at 3:09 AM on October 31, 2006

My institution (Oxford) and the publisher, it seems, only have online archives back to 2000.
posted by caek at 3:11 AM on October 31, 2006

I thought I had access to this this but on checking realised I've only got 1998 access onwards electronically.
posted by greycap at 3:13 AM on October 31, 2006

The British Library will sell you an electronic copy if you're feeling particularly lazy.
posted by caek at 3:14 AM on October 31, 2006

Also, FWIW, a preliminary search before my internet decided not to search databases returned an article in FILOSOFICKY CASOPIS 48 (3): 357-372 2000, if that helps.
posted by cholly at 3:14 AM on October 31, 2006

Response by poster: I am feeling lazy, but not £20 lazy.

The other university in Sheffield doesn't have a copy.

I have pursued it with the library, they said to take it up with the tutor, who isn't being terrible receptive. With reading week and essay deadlines coming up - I was hoping someone had access to it, but perhaps only the British Library offers the digitised version. Handee - That'd be really useful in you fancy a stroll in the next few days.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 3:33 AM on October 31, 2006

Can you get to this article on Descartes? (by the same author).
posted by handee at 3:48 AM on October 31, 2006

Response by poster: yes I can access that article, and a couple more by the author Rozemond using that site, but not the one in question. Many of these articles are book reviews that aren't particularly useful.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 4:05 AM on October 31, 2006

I don't have access to those dates on-line. But you might try this article "Descartes's Method of Doubt" in The Canadian Journal of Philosophy, (Dec2004, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p591-613, 23p)
Do you have a more specific concern regarding the first meditation? My master's was on Descartes (metaphysics not epistemology) and my e-mail address is in my profile feel free to contact me.
posted by oddman at 6:18 AM on October 31, 2006

You should be able to get a physical copy for much less.

If you ask your university library they are probably able to get a copy of the article sent from the British Library.

For my university this service is £6 if used without justification. If you get your supervisor or someone else in your department to sign off on a request then it is free.
posted by Olli at 7:20 AM on October 31, 2006

I looked up this title in WorldCat (online bibliographic tool). The journal began publishing online in 2000, so I doubt anyone will be able to find a PDF paper from 1996 from this journal. (Barring personal PDF copies that someone has scanned and created themselves.)

I would also suggest asking a librarian! All the work you've done here is exactly what they are paid to do!
posted by holyrood at 7:53 AM on October 31, 2006

Your library might be get a copy of the article from another subscribing institution via Interlibrary Loan. It may arrive as a p'copy, or the supplying institution might be able to scan and send that over. Either way, speak to your librarian.
posted by poissonrouge at 9:17 AM on October 31, 2006

I don't think it's too radical to assume that Descartes' true intention in skeptically doubting was to establish certain knowledge of God, the reliability of the senses, the reliability of logic, and self-knowledge.

I have access to the journal, but only as far back as 2000.
posted by ontic at 9:40 AM on October 31, 2006

Response by poster: The tact I was going to take was that sceptical doubt was means to make the meditater disengage from the senses, in order to move people away from the Aristotle school to enable the establishment of a secure foundation for his new science.

The problem is, I didn't think that was too radical, so I was looking for some different viewpoints, but that ontic, I think I would have otherwise glossed over those possible intentions.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 9:52 AM on October 31, 2006

Do an interlibrary loan request at your library. This is what libraries are for. The legalities are taken care of, too, if you do an ILL request.
posted by rachelpapers at 11:29 AM on October 31, 2006

Best answer: As to whether Descartes' project is radical, think about the way he characterizes it in the first Meditation. He's going to tear the house right down to the foundations. What's not radical about that? He's going to rebuild the house of knowledge so that it is rock-solid, absolutely unshakeable. Pretty bold, no?

If your tutor is unhelpful, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a good place to start, if you're mainly wanting some confirmation that you're on the right track. This article is by Lex Newman, who is a reputable Descartes scholar. You can buzz through it and see if some of your questions are answered here; it also has a nice bibliography.

Of the things listed there, the Bernard Williams and Margaret Wilson books are likely to be available in your library and I have found them quite useful in the past. I can't remember what they have to say on this topic. The Curley might also be good. (Using a book doesn't have to be more work than using just an article. Look at the introductory section for a sense of the book's overall project. Then look up your keywords in the index and skip to those discussions, going back as needed for the argumentative context of the book as a whole.)

Also, if you don't already have it, you should get the CSM volume (listed in the bibliography at that page), and take a look at the Objections and Replies to see if any of Descartes' buddies raised questions about this that might help you.

I'm happy to continue the discussion here, if you have specific questions.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:47 AM on October 31, 2006

In the US, you would do Interlibrary Loan to get the article. But maybe you don't have that in England?

You might also try emailing the author directly. Sometimes people have electronic copies of their old work that they can send you. Here she is. I notice she has a 1998 book on Descartes listed on her cv; you might see if your library has that book since it may recap some of the same arguments as the earlier paper. She also has several articles published since the journals went online; you might see if any of them will work.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:52 AM on October 31, 2006

Well in the synopsis he says something very similar to what you are attributing to him. "But although the utility of a Doubt which is so general does not at first appear, it is at the same time very great, inasmuch as it delivers us from every kind of prejudice, and sets out for us a very simple way by which the mind may detach itself from the senses; and finally it makes it impossible for us ever to doubt those things which we have once discovered to be true."

I am of the opinion that Descartes was a very sincere philosopher. So, when he makes a claim such as I've quoted above, I tend to take him at his word. (By contrast, some philosophers argue that his proclimations of belief in God were insencere. I find that claim to be unsubstantiated, or at best anachronisitic.) Thus, I would say that in the First Meditation he was doing nothing more than giving us reasons to investigate the foundations of our beliefs by giving us reason to temporarily doubt the beliefs.
posted by oddman at 11:53 AM on October 31, 2006

Regarding "Descartes's Dualism," I've read it. It's a very good book, but it really centers on meditations 2 and 6 and various responses to Scholastic concerns over his dualistic metaphysics. It is unlikely that the book contains much of the subject matter of an article on skepticism. (I haven't read the article so I may be completely wrong.)
posted by oddman at 11:58 AM on October 31, 2006

Another vote for placing an interlibrary loan request through your library. Full disclosure: it happens to be what I do for a living, though I'm in in the US (so my knowledge of UK practices is spotty).

A librarian or other staff member should be able to get that article for you either for free or at a reasonable cost. They'll handle the details. With electronic document delivery, it shouldn't take that long (and rush requests are often possible). Looking it up, over 170 libraries subscribe to this title, seven of which are in the UK.

It may not be as quick (or as fun) as MetaFilter, but it works. :)
posted by metabrilliant at 1:43 PM on October 31, 2006

Response by poster: Descartes is very bold; by radical I meant in terms of an interpretation of Descartes work - not his philosophy.

I picked up a couple of Wilson's books today, and have read Curley recently. I'll go through interlibrary loans to try and get a hold of the aforementioned British Journal of History article - my university does seem to offer that ability.

In terms of the essay, I think Descartes was being completely sincere but I'd be tempted to infer a lot from his writings, and focus on his purpose being a pragmatic one, and that his intention was to establish the theoretical foundations for his new science by making the meditator doubt all they know.

I don't believe Descartes proclamations of belief in God were insincere. But in attempting to understand Descartes real intentions do you think it's necessary to debunk an atheistic interpretation, or should I concentrate on what I agree with.

So far, in terms of Descartes real intention in pursuing Skeptical Doubt I'm exploring the following:

- Descartes just wants us to understand ourselves better using doubt as means to make the meditator disengage from the senses. He wanted to help us inquire into truth.

- Descartes was trying to "answer the sceptic"

- Cartesian ideas as atheistic

- I think he's doing more than just trying to give us reasons. I'll contend that he's trying to establish a temporary platform (albeit on a solid base) that can also be seen as an attempt to move people towards nativism or Cartesian science. This is probably be the focus of the essay and what I will put forward as his real intention - unless I can be persuaded otherwise by Wilson, Oddman or LobsterMitten.

Thanks for all the suggestions and for continuing the discussion mefites - and thanks for making a topic I have little familiarity with so much more bearable.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 9:28 AM on November 1, 2006

My head swims at the thought of being mentioned in a sentence with M. Wilson.

I'm a little concerned about the language you (we?) have started using. The skeptical arguments in Med 1 aren't the foundation for the new science. They are an attempt to cleat away the old foundation. The new foundations comes in Meds 2-6. (Six being where the skeptical arguments against sense data are finally refuted.) Assuming that we agree about that, then your characterization of his intent seems right.

I don't think he was trying to answer skeptical arguments, I think he was trying to answer the scholastics (i.e. refute Aristotelian philosophies). Skepticism was his way of providing a level playing field, so to speak. That is I don't think the goal of the Mediations is to refute skepticism, that is just a benefit of the process of establishing a firm metaphysical foundation for science.

Finally, I don't think you need to address the atheistic readings of Descartes. They are relatively unpopular and don't necessarily speak to topic of at hand. That is, you want to know why Descartes started with skepticism, not whether the proofs for God were sincere.
posted by oddman at 11:58 AM on November 1, 2006

If this is for an undergraduate course on Descartes or epitemology, I'm guessing your thesis doesn't need to be bold. It needs to be clearly argued and well-supported by evidence from the text. In most philosophy papers at this level, what you mainly need to do is explain very very clearly the stuff that seems obvious to you.

You say you're inclined to argue "his intention was to establish the theoretical foundations for his new science by making the meditator doubt all they know". Ok, take it step by step. How does creating doubt (point A) get us to a theoretical foundation for a new science (point B)? That's what you should spend the bulk of your time spelling out. There are a lot of intermediate steps between those two. Also you'll want to say clearly and plainly what you mean by his "new science".

Don't spend time debunking the idea that Descartes was an atheist unless it matters for your thesis. You list "Cartesian ideas as atheistic" as one of your points that you want to talk about, but I'm not clear what you want to say about it. Does his theism or atheism matter for your specific thesis? (For example, if the skeptical beginning is supposed to lay the groundwork for more secure knowledge about God, then it might matter. But if the skeptical beginning is only supposed to help with science, then maybe it doesn't matter.)

Your last point I'm not sure I understand. It would be clearer if I understood better what position you're arguing against there. (Probably this would be clearer if I had seen the rest of what you've done in the course. It doesn't matter if *I* understand, but it matters if *you* have a completely clear idea of what you're arguing.) What do you mean by "just give us reasons"? You say Descartes is doing more than that, but I'm not sure what that is to begin with. Then you say he's trying to establish "a temporary platform"... what do you mean by this? Do you mean the skeptical position is temporary (that's true). Do you mean that the position he comes to after defeating skepticism is only a temporary position (I don't see this being true). Finally, say a bit more clearly what you mean by nativism or Cartesian science.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2006

Response by poster: Excellent, cheers for the extended responses - this has cleared a lot of stuff up. Apologies for being a bit vague in my last reply.

Oddman - This is the sort of stuff that I'd get a bit lost in, thanks for clearing up the difference between the Meditations, and for the skeptic/atheist advice.

LobsterMitten - This is an undergraduate course called "Descartes + The Empiricists". I can see what you mean about not trying to be bold, and instead arguing the obvious things instead of trying to give a summary of some aspects that I don't understand enough to warrant inclusion. I think an extended step by step approach and more focus on the intermediate steps will serve me better than debunking. Ignore the temporary platform bit - it's something I read that I haven't fully considered.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 2:16 PM on November 1, 2006

apologies for being a bit vague in my last reply

No, no; sorry, I should have been clearer about what all my questions meant. Tym, it's not that you were vague in a bad way. It's that you are in the process of drafting an essay, so you're still working this stuff out. My questions were just meant to suggest things that you will want to explain in excruciating detail in your first (biggest) draft. Doing this will let you see more clearly what matters for your main arguments; then when you write the following draft your essay will get more streamlined.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:35 PM on November 1, 2006

Incidentally: Don't feel sad about not doing a "bold" paper right out of the gates. If you're looking carefully at the details and the intermediate steps, and trying to tie it closely to the text, you will hit upon your own interpretive questions. So your paper won't be boring; it will raise questions about more specific aspects of Descartes' intentions, and explain why these specifics matter to the bigger picture. In fact, it will probably end up being more interesting than a paper with big bold ideas that are shallowly thought out.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:41 PM on November 1, 2006

TYM, by sheer coincidence, I know someone who is meeting with M. Rozemond tonight. I asked him to ask her for an electronic copy of that paper. If she sends one, I will send it on to you.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:34 PM on November 4, 2006

Response by poster: ah-ha! That could be great - what a strange co-incidence.

I've gone through Wilson's chapter on Meditations I and found it exceptionally useful, especially in terms of how it explains things step by step and in terms of analysing other interpretations (e.g. Frankfurt). Thanks for the suggestion; it was a lot more useful and understandable than the Carriero essay suggested to us.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 5:40 PM on November 4, 2006

Excellent, I'm very pleased to hear that! Yes, Wilson is very clear. :) Glad you're having good luck with it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:43 PM on November 4, 2006

Incidentally, if you're still checking in: I think it would be good to tag this question with "Descartes" and "Meditations" and "skepticism".
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:52 PM on November 4, 2006

Response by poster: I've tagged up the post, and started the draft, this essay attempt seems a lot easier and less stressful that writing an essay on an essay on a subject I have such a limited knowledge of. Cheers guys and girls.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 4:20 PM on November 5, 2006

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