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Filozofska istraživanja, Vol.29 No.1 April 2009.

Original scientific paper

Descartes’ Confessions

Jasna Šakota-Mimica ; University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade, Serbia

Fulltext: croatian, pdf (461 KB) pages 145-159 downloads: 841* cite
Šakota-Mimica, J. (2009). Descartesove ispovijesti. Filozofska istraživanja, 29(1), 145-159. Retrieved from

The text explores the connection between Descartes’ life conversions and the reason why in the Discourse on the Method and Meditations on First Philosophy he utilizes a confessional tone to his writing. Such an endeavour exposes a specific role of the mask under which the philosopher intends to present himself to the public for the first time. Although the mask is already mentioned in his Private thoughts, Descartes gives it a form of persona only after the discovery of cogito, as he is writing the Discourse. The mask of persona, conceived as a pure reason, allows him to confess his philosophical conversions as a paradigm of intellectual conversion of humanity, transforming his confession into a sermon. However, in the Meditations, Descartes takes a step further. His ability to utilize the mask, combined with his experience in dreams with a malicious demon and God, enable him to appear in this work as a multi-faced actor: as »I«, as a malicious genius and as a truthful God. Behind all three masks is evidently Descartes’ ratio, however it is important to recognize that the malicious genius is not only the mask the philosopher uses to hide the sins of the sceptical activity in which he involves the reader. On the basis of Descartes’ dreams, we can argue that there is one more malicious genius in the Meditations, this time a real one, standing opposite the meditating subject. This one is the embodiment of widely accepted opinions, prejudices and laziness of human intellect.

René Descartes; confession; conversion; mask; dreams; malicious genius


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