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Smith8_Descartes-Vico - Smith Chapter 8 Epistemology and...

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Smith Chapter 8 Epistemology and Modern Rhetorics 1 Descartes and Vico I. René Descartes (1596-1650) A. Background 1. Born of French nobleman, educated by Jesuits 2. Became one of the most famous mathematicians of the century 3. November 10, 1619 had a vision of an “angel of truth” who told him that mathematics was the proper method for the study of natural phenomena a) Jacques Maritain, 1) The Dream of Descartes 2) Says that Descartes had a vision of an angel who told him to embark on a science that would improve mankind. 3) Thus the mission of objective science had its birth in a heavenly vision. b) The seduction of certainty is prevalent today 4. In Descartes day, there were instruments that could measure the world with precision —the clock 5. Today, we use the computer as a model of precision and certainty a) Theodore Roszak, The Cult of Information b) Argues that the computer is an inferior model for the human mind because there are products of humanity—great ideas like “All men are created equal”—that cannot be reduced to data processing. Humans are more than computers. B. Ever a SKEPTIC—preferred Dialectic to Rhetoric C. Discourse on Method (1637) 1. If one could only prove the existence of one’s own mind, how was one to deal with others? How do we know other people exist? 2. Saw others as complex machines; others are always objects to us because we cannot get into their minds to see what they are thinking or IF they are thinking. D. Converts Aristotle’s theory of the energizing soul to a mechanical model without metaphysical force. E. Only our minds prevent us from being automatons, like the animals F. Famous Bifurcation—Cartesian Dualism 1.Mind 2.Body II. Giambatista Vico (1668-1744) A. Believed Descartes system too narrow B. Humans Needed Imagination i. A Humanistic Imagination was essential to the task of interpretation ii. Imagination could be developed by examining myths and fables—the openings to the origins of civilization. 1. Parola : words that clearly interpret reality; speken by the ancient poets who told the stories of the gods and heroes of previous ages. 2. Favola : Came from parola; the true fables 3. Allegoria : true allegories; came from favola
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Smith Chapter 8 Epistemology and Modern Rhetorics 2 iii. Universal Imagination: a collective knowledge; composed of the myths and stories that can be reduced to an "imaginative metaphysics" through the proper use of rhetorical analysis. iv. The object of philosophy is speculation about history because humans create history but do not create nature. v. Saw rhetoric and natural religion as major foundations of society vi. Humans are more rhetorical than logical and more religious than scientific. C. Theory of metaphor i. The original structure, to take on thing for another, to see one thing as another ii. Ingrained in language but also makes things known by invoking comparisons iii. Some metaphors are so much a part of our language that they are not even recognized as metaphors iv.
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Smith8_Descartes-Vico - Smith Chapter 8 Epistemology and...

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