Descartes’ Puzzle: Intelligent Solitary Search for Truth and Epistolary Dialogues

By Cătălin Mamali.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: September 9, 2016 $US5.00

Descartes’ epistemology, which posits the methodic doubt and solitary search for truth, seems to collide with the social-cognitive character of his correspondence that practices dialogue, inter-subjective reasoning, and testing among equal inquiring partners. Descartes’ puzzle has at its core the tension between an epistemically solitary search for truth (Marion, 1997) and the social nature of the epistolary dialogue in which he has been involved during the stages of his intellectual life. The paper uses an integrative approach of epistolary interaction that takes into account its structural patterns, the cycles of epistolary exchanges, the epistolary volume, its degree of reciprocity, and the epistolary meta-messages ( “correspondentometry” (Mamali, 1985, 1990). The findings suggest that during the periods that marked Cartesius significant intellectual achievements his epistolary interactions increased tremendously. This pattern supports the hypothesis that his need for inter-subjective testing, for dialogue on specific inquiring issues has been present even during his solitary work and increased markedly during periods of high intellectual achievements. The patterns of epistolary interactions suggest that along his intellectual life Descartes reversed frequently from a relatively solitary mode of inquiry toward a complex inter-subjective dialogue with various partners. This means that Descartes highly valued the social-cognitive interactions among inquiring individuals.

Keywords: Solitary Search, Epistolary Space, Epistolary Dialogue, Epistolary Intersubjective Testing, Self-inquiry, Inter-inquiry

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 11, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.1-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: September 9, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 995.790KB)).

Dr. Cătălin Mamali

Teacher, Department of Psychology, Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, USA