TALKING TO DESCARTES (EC)

This is an extra credit (EC) Quest Writer Communication Activity (CA) in which you are going write a letter to Descartes about the portions of the Meditations which you have read. For this activity you will be paired with another student. < B>It thus becomes very important that you complete these activities and do them on time. Someone else is depending on you! To start the activity, read down to the bottom of this page and click on the "Talking to Descartes" link.

Stage 1:Feb 11 -- Feb

You should find some portion of the text which you find puzzling and write a letter to the great man himself, in which you ask Descartes to explain that portion of the text.

It is important that your letter be based on some portion of the text because your respondant will have no other way to help you than by clarifying that portion of the text. So, if you ask Descartes why he likes Bordeaux wine rather than Champaigne, your respondant will be at a loss, since there is nothing in the text about either of these things. (The smart answer to this, by the way, would be for Descartes to politely point out that champaigne had not yet been invented by Dom Perignon. If you go to the GV Historical time line, you will discover the following entry for 1693 "Champagne is invented by Dom Perignon, August 4"!)

Stage 2: Start Date -- Feb. 18

After sending your letter to Descartes, you will be paired with the next person that decides to do the exercise. You will receive a letter to Descartes from them. Your job then is to play Descartes, come up with a good answer to the question and send it back to your respondant. Answering questions is pretty much always harder than asking them. Try to do a good job answering the question you receive. This is the beating heart of this exercise. If you do a good job answering, everyone gets helped. If not, not!

Stage 3: Start Date -- Feb. 24

After you receive an answer to your letter to Descartes, the next stage is to respond and let Descartes know that you understand the answer or that you still don't understand and think the answer needs expansion or more explanation. If you find the answer you get disappointing, do not hesitate to ask for a better explanation! This helps everyone. The person playing Descartes is forced to try to understand and explain in a better way, and you get a better answer.

Stage 4: Start Date -- Feb. 28

When you (as Descartes) receive a reply saying that you have effectively answered the question, send a polite response thanking the correspondent for the questions and the acknowledgement that you have answered it. If your correspondent is complaining that you have not answered the question effectively, get to work and give a better answer!

Begin Talking to Descartes