Dr. Uzgalis
Phl 302
Winter 1996

TALKING TO DESCARTES

1. For this exercise you have been assigned an e-mail partner. If you do not know who your e-mail partner is, contact me immediately. The first order of business is to make contact with your partner by e-mail.

2. Now, think about reading the Meditations. If you could ask Descartes a question about the Meditations wouldn't that be great! What question would you ask? If you already know what you would like to ask, that is wonderful. If you do not, go back to the reading. Try to formulate a substantial question which connects directly with the reading. Avoid loaded questions ("Why are you such a lousy writer"); rhetorical questions ("Who are you to say..."); unrelated factual questions ("How many words are there on Pg. 4?") and insufficiently clear questions ("What is your view?" "What is your philosophy?"). You will know when you have a genuine and appropriate question when a real answer to it will help you in understanding the philosophy of Descartes.


3. Next, keeping your question in mind, compose a short letter to Descartes. In your letter tell Descartes about something you did get (understand) from the Meditations. You may also tell him about how you feel about his work overall. Include in your letter the question you wanted answered (see step 1 above).

DO THIS BY Friday Jan 26.


4. Send your letter to your email partner. If you do not have an e-mail partner by now, contact me as soon as possible. Put the e-mail address of the person you are sending it to on the "to:" line. Put my address uzgalisw@ucs.orst.edu on the "Cc:" line (Carbon copy). Do NOT send your messages in this project to the whole class address. This is between you and the author (with me along). Note that in writing and sending this letter you are addressing your e-mail partner as if s/he were Descartes. That is one reason to advance a serious and thoughtful question.

5. When you receive your e-mail partner's letter, read it carefully. Your job is now to assume the role of Descartes. You are the author of the Meditations now. Playing that role, answer your partner's question as best you can. If you find the question unclear, write back with an explanation of what is not clear to you. At the end of this process you should be able to provide a good answer to the question (based on your understanding of the Meditations. It is doubtful you will be able to accomplish this in one e-mail session. This is designed to take care of all of your required e-mail traffic for this week.

RESPOND to your partner's message by Friday Feb 2.

If you have any questions contact Capt. Bill at uzgalisw@ucs.orst.edu.