The DESCARTES PROJECT At the University of Toronto
I would like to alert members of the list to a new project and to seek
advice, suggestions, criticisms, and the like. We have applied for
and received funding to help us (Brian Baigrie, Calvin Normore, Andre
Gombay) to produce three "tools":
(1) a machine readable version of Descartes' collected works
(2) a Descartes biographical di|ctionary
(3) and a book with the title -- _Truth and Fabrication: Descartes on
Scepticism, Automata, and Rights_.
The third tool is not relevant to this discussion group, so I will
stick to (1) and (2).
(1) The canonical text is Adam and Tannery (14 vols). We intend to
prepare a machine readable version of this along with correspondence
(2) We will entract a list of entries for the Dictionary from the
e-text. This list will include all persons, institutions, groups, and
places mentioned by Descartes. We will establish a set of fields for
each kind of entry and our research assistants will track down the
Our original proposal was to produce a working (not perfect)
electronic text. It function was to yield a set of entries for the
Dictionary. However, we are now feeling more ambitious. We are
negotiating with Vrin (the publisher of the canonical text) for
permission to produce an electronic text. We now intend to produce a
near perfect e-text and to donate copies of this to ARTFL and other
lists. We also plan to produce a commercial version bundled with the
electronic version of the Descartes Dictionary.
What I'm seeking is advice about how to proceed. What we envision is
a hypertext-like environment with links between the e-text and
dictionary. Find a word -- say, van Schooten -- hit a key, and the
appropriate part of the Dictionary opens up on sceen. Hit another
key, and return to the e-text.
We'd also like to have ports open to other possible add-ons. We are
applying for funds to look at other Cartesians. We are also
interested in establishing links with other relevant e-text (e.g., the
The most important element for us is the text itself. Philosophy is
text driven and we need to retain cross-references to the conanical
text each step of the way. Any encoding, therefore, will be regulated
by the authority of the text, first and foremost.
If you have thoughts that you'd are to share with us, or knowledge of
related projects, we'd be grateful to hear about them.
University of Toronto
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P.S. Yesterday, at Willard McCarty's suggestion, I started a journal
for our project on the assumption that it might be of interest to
specialists in TEI.