Anat Schechtman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy. Her main research interests are in Descartes and early modern philosophy,
especially theories of substance, essence, dependence, infinity, and
representation. She also has interests in Kant and the Kantian tradition (in
particular, transcendental arguments), and the history of philosophy more
broadly, as well as in contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of religion. Her current research investigates epistemological and metaphysical relations between the finite and the infinite in the Meditations and other Cartesian texts, arguing that the notion of infinity has a central place in Descartes' philosophy. In her dissertation, she offered a new reading of the (in)famous proof for the existence of God in the Third Meditation, proposing that Descartes there argues, in transcendental fashion, that grasping the infinite is a condition for the possibility of grasping the finite. Her present research on Descartes builds on this work. She is a graduate of Tel Aviv University, where she received a bachelor's degree in philosophy and mathematics. She received the PhD from Yale University in May 2011.
office: Walker Museum 202
office hours Spring Quarter: Th 10:30-11:30 and by appointment
"In the Engine Room of Reality: Philosophy’s junior faculty members discuss their work, inspiration, and teaching" by Courtney C. W. Guerra, AB’05 Tableau, Spring 2012 - Link
56710. Descartes and First Philosophy. The title of Descartes' most celebrated work is Meditations on First Philosophy. This course will explore how and in what sense, according to Descartes, a given philosophy can be said to come first. We will also want to know what is this first philosophy: is it, for example, the kind of philosophy which engages the skeptical challenge and shows that we can know some things with certainty? Or is it rather that which answers ontological questions such as what exists or which entities are most fundamental? We will read from the Meditations, The Objections and Replies, and The Principles of Philosophy, as well as from lesser known works such as Rules for the Direction of the Mind and various letters.(V) Autumn 2011.
29601. Intensive Track Seminar: Descartes' Meditations. PQ: Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive track program. This course will consist in a close reading and discussion of Descartes' Meditations. Our main aims will be to understand what Descartes attempts to achieve in this work, and to consider how successful he is in doing so. Topics to be discussed are doubt and certainty, the nature and existence of external objects, truth and error, and the alleged Cartesian circle. We will also study proofs for God's existence and veracity, the real distinction between mind and body, and the notion of mind-body union. Autumn 2011.
27302/37302. Infinity in Early Modern Philosophy. This course will focus on the notion of infinity in early modern philosophy. Whereas for us this is primarily a mathematical notion, in that period it figured not only in mathematical innovations (such as the calculus) but also in metaphysical and theological theories and debates. We will examine various such approaches to infinity with an eye to what contemporary philosophical debates might learn from them; in particular, we will be interested in the question of whether there was a distinctly philosophical, rather than mathematical, notion of infinity salient to early modern thinkers. We will concentrate on Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Hume, but will also look briefly at other figures such as Hobbes, Gassendi, and Locke. (V) (B) Spring 2012.