The Role of Descartes’s Dream in the Meditations and in the Historical Ontology of Ourselves

  • Edward McGushin

Abstract

This paper situates the dream-hypothesis in Descartes’s First Meditation within the historical ontology of ourselves. It looks at the way in which the dream enters into and transforms Descartes’ relation to his “system of actuality.” In order to get free from his confinement within his system of actuality – an actuality defined by relations of power-knowledge, government, veridiction, and subjectivity – Descartes draws on the disruptive, negative capacity of the dream. But, while Descartes draws on the dream to get himself free and to establish a way of thinking and living differently, he also disqualifies the dream as a positive source of knowledge, truth, or subjectivity. Excavating this ambivalent place of the dream in the genealogy of our present, we aim to recover the dream not only in its negative power but also to open up the possibility of re-imagining its positivity as a form of counter-conduct, problematization, and element in the care of the self. This paper represents one piece of a larger genealogical study that examines the history of relationships between the arts of dreaming and the problematization of power-truth-subjectivity.

Author Biography

Edward McGushin
Edward McGushin, PhDProfessorDepartment of PhilosophyStonehill CollegeMassachusetts, USAemcgushin@stonehill.edu

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Published
2018-10-22
Section
Special Issue on Foucault and Philosophical Practice