As we saw in Chapter 6, in the context of Casper David Friedrich’s diptych, the window takes on metaphorical significance of the modern self; its demarcation of physical and visual boundaries evokes a tension between one’s thoughts and emotions and the world “out there”. This bifurcation was heralded in Descartes’ introspective stance. Motivated by a desire for epistemological certainty – in the face of equivocations of everyday encounter – Descartes saw the window as an appropriate motif for redefining our circumspect relationship to the world:

If by any chance I look out of the window and see men crossing the square, I normally say that I see the men themselves … And yet, what do I see from the window if not hats and coats (that) could conceal spectres and automata? But I judge that they are real men. Thus something which I thought I was seeing with my eyes is in fact grasped solely by the faculty of judgement which is in my mind. 1