Lecture 04: Descartes/Barthes

8:15 – 8:25 am
8:25 – 8:55 am
VOC and René Descartes (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC)

Descartes walks into a bar . . .

Dutch East India Company

  • Est. 1602
  • Dutch government granted the VOC a 21-year monopoly on colonial activities in Asia
  • First multinational corporation
  • First company to trade stock
  • Declared bankruptcy and formally dissolved back into the Dutch government in 1800

Scholasticism

  • Method of critical thought in medieval universities c. 1100 – 1700 CE
  • Based on dialectical thought
  • Rooted in aristotelian and theological concepts

René Descartes

  • b. 1596 – d. 1650
  • Contributed to both science and philosophy
  • Discourse on the Method for Conducting One’s Reason Rightly for Searching for Truth in the Sciences (1637)
  • Meditations on First Philosophy (1641)

Read Meditations on First Philosophy (in-class; 13-14, 17-18, 19, 21-22, 23)

  • Radical Doubt
  • cogito ergo sum
  • sum res cogitans
  • The Priority of the Subject
8:55 – 9:15 am

Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author”

  • b. 1915 – d. 1980
  • French literary theorist, structuralist and semiotician
  • Discussion
9:15 – 9:20
Introduction to Semiotics
  • Signifier (Sound-image, “cow”)
  • Signified (Concept, “grazing animal,” “steak,” “venerated god”)
  • Referent (The thing itself)
9:25 – 9:30 am
Wrap-up
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