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Discourse on Method (Focus Philosophical Library) Paperback – November 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Focus Philosophical Library publishes clear, faithful editions enabling access for modern students to the essential ideas and wisdom of the world’s greatest thinkers.

This is an English translation of Descartes' seminal discourse, with an original essay by Richard Kennington. This text provides readers with a close translation, notes, and a glossary of key terms to facilitate access to ideas as they originally were presented and to make the translator's work transparent.

Richard Kennington (1921–1999) was a professor of philosophy at The Pennsylvania State University and Catholic University of America. His teaching was centered largely on seventeenth-century thinkers such as Bacon and Descartes.

Pamela Kraus teaches at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.

Frank Hunt teaches at St Johns College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

About the Author

Richard Kennington (1921–1999) was a professor of philosophy at The Pennsylvania State University and Catholic University of America. His teaching wqas centered largely on seventeenth-century thinkers such as Bacon and Descartes.

Pamela Kraus teaches at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. She is coeditor (along with Frank Hunt) of Richard Kennington's "On Modern Origins: Essays in Early Modern Philosophy" (Lexington, 1004).

Frank Hunt teaches at St Johns College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is coeditor, along with Pamela Kraus, of Richard Kennington's "On Modern Origins in Early Modern Philosophy" (Lexington, 1004).

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Product Details

  • Series: Focus Philosophical Library
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Focus Publishing / R. Pullins Co. (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585102598
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585102594
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This edition contains Richard Kennington's very precise translation of the Discourse along with an interpretive essay. This essay is a close reading of the text in which Kennington attempts to bring out the underlying intention of Descartes' thought, hidden beneath what appear to be nods to traditional ideas of morality and metaphysics. His ideas are provocative, but even if he's wrong, his careful arguments deserve consideration.

One significant drawback of the translation: the editors neglected to include the Adam-Tannery pagination in the body of the text. This is indeed unfortunate, since this is the scholarly standard for citations and useful for finding the same passage in other editions.

The interpretive essay contained in this volume is also included in the collection of Kennington's essays entitled "On Modern Origins" (also highly recommended).
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A landmark in the history of philosophy and a founding text for modern scientific method, by which is meant cautious scepticism, disinterested enquiry, taking absolutely nothing on trust, but instead subjecting everything to the searching knife of criticism. This is a key text, if you wish to learn to be self-reliant and to develop the powers of your individual mind. Astonishing -- an enduring contribution of a man who was, and is most likely to remain, the greatest thinker in history.
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Rene Descartes is often considered the founding father of modern philosophy. A true Renaissance man, he studied Scholastic philosophy and physics as a student, spent time as a volunteer soldier and traveler throughout Europe, studied mathematics, appreciated the arts, and became a noted correspondent with royals and intellectual figures throughout the continent. He died in Sweden while on assignment as tutor to the Queen, Christiana.

Descartes 'Discourse on Method' is a fascinating text, combining the newly-invented form of essay (Descartes was familiar with the Essays of Montaigne) with the same kind of autobiographical impulse that underpins Augustine's Confessions. Descartes writes about his own form of mystical experience, seeing this as almost a kind of revelation that all past knowledge would be superseded, and all problems would eventually be solved by human intellect.

In the Discourse, Descartes formulates logical principles based on reason (which makes it somewhat ironic that this came to him almost as a revelation). Descartes had some appreciation for thinkers such as Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, but he thought that Bacon depended too much upon empirical data, and with Hobbes he disagreed on what would be the criteria for ascertaining certainty.

Descartes was a mathematician at heart, and perhaps had a carry-over of Pythagorean mystical attachment to mathematics, for his sense of reason led him to impute an absolute quality to mathematics; this has major implications for metaphysics and epistemology. Descartes method was a continuation in many ways of the ideas of Plato, Aristotle and the medieval thinkers, for they all tended toward thinking in absolute, universal terms in some degree.
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At my undergraduate university I was forced to taken to humanities electives and was ordered to read this in one of them....and I actually ended up loving it! Book was of good quality and was much cheaper than my local bookstore at my university. As far as content goes, I would say that this book changed the way that I perceived the world around me. Previous to read this book, I was a biochemistry major who only focused on getting my scientific studies done to further my science education. By the time I finished this book I (as corny as it sounds) felt much more cultured and actually was inspired to read other books of philosophical nature. I am very glad with this and for the price of about $10 I doubt that you can do any better than Decartes! Enjoy!
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How do you rate a classic work of philosophy? It's above and beyond the rating system. True, it's not in a league with "Meditations on First Philosophy," but it's still a fine read and I would recommend to anyone who, like me, has read "First Philosophy" already.
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This copy had only a few mistakes and was not written in old English like some others so I appreciated the translation. 2 stars because I'm definitely NOT a Cartesian. Further, only part 4 really had much philosophical meat.
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