December 24th, 2004


who was that masked man?

In a passage from the Cogitationes Privatæ, a collection of fragments written around 1619 and known today from a copy made by Leibniz, René Descartes pledges: “Ut comœdi, moniti ne in fronte appareat pudor, personam induunt, sic ego hoc mundi teatrum conscensurus, in quo hactenus spectator exstiti, larvatus prodeo.” (Œuvres de Descartes, Ch. Adam and P. Tannery (eds.), X 213, 4-6.) Just as comedians are counseled not to let shame appear on their foreheads, and so put on a mask, so likewise, now that he is about to mount the stage of the world, where he has so far been a spectator, young Renatus Cartesius comes forward in a mask.Collapse )