Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy: in Which the Existence of God and the Distinction of the Soul from the Body are Demonstrated . Trans. Donald A. Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1993. Unless indicated otherwise, all quotations will be from this translation. Section numbers are references printed in the margins of some current translations of this text. They are actually references to page numbers in the Adam and Tannery edition (1897-1913) of the original Latin text. (Where paragraph numbers are used here, they will be cited as: II:2; indicating Meditation 2, paragraph 2 in the Latin text.)
There’s now considerable evidence about the patterns of brain activity that correspond to the hierarchical self-model. These neural correlates are implemented in certain brain circuits, in particular the salience network and the default mode network . The salience network allows us to feel the significance of bodily states triggered by worldly encounters. As we’ve discussed, organisms are constantly bombarded by information, only a fraction of which is ultimately relevant to their goals and interests. The salience network is what allows us to discern what matters and has meaning in its context. Meanwhile the default mode network underlies episodes of autobiographical thought such as memory, imagination, planning and decision-making. To simplify things a bit, we can say that the default mode network is frequently linked to the narrative self, while the salience network is associated with a more minimal, embodied self and its affective states.
In late 1646, Queen Christina of Sweden initiated a correspondence with Descartes through a French diplomat and friend of Descartes’ named Chanut. Christina pressed Descartes on moral issues and a discussion of the absolute good. This correspondence eventually led to an invitation for Descartes to join the Queen’s court in Stockholm in February 1649. Although he had his reservations about going, Descartes finally accepted Christina’s invitation in July of that year. He arrived in Sweden in September 1649 where he was asked to rise at 5:00am to meet the Queen to discuss philosophy, contrary to his usual habit, developed at La Fleche, of sleeping in late,. His decision to go to Sweden, however, was ill-fated, for Descartes caught pneumonia and died on February 11, 1650.