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Discourse on Method and Related Writings (Penguin Classics) 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140446999
ISBN-10: 0140446990
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rene Descartes (1596-1650), French philosopher and mathematician, is generally regarded as the founder of modern philosophy. 

Desmond Clarke is professor of philosophy at Unviersity College, Cork.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140446990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140446999
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Cory on November 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
I always like this publisher; they do a good job. On the other hand, be warned that this translator Desmond Clarke is not the standard translator. If you are serious about Descartes, and your Latin and French aren't up to par, use the Cotthingham, Stoothoff, and Murdoch translation.
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In Discourse on Method (DOM), Descartes wrote a history of his own philosophical pilgrimage and a program for his philosophical and scientific system. The DOM serves as a programmatic summary of what Descartes considered a revolutionary new method of knowledge; it is a kind of philosophical confession of faith which serves as an apology.

It is important to remember that DOM was the preface to three works of science--the Geometry, the Dioptrics, and the Meteorics--which followed it in the original text published in 1637. These served as proof of the success of the method.

Descartes presents himself as an earnest and humble seeker of truth. He delights in all manner of learning, but is unsatisfied with its uncertain status. Though well-schooled and well-traveled as a young man, his heart finds no rest in authority and tradition. He finds clarity and certainty in mathematics but sees little of philosophical value built upon its foundations. So he is discontent.

It is important for Descartes to convince the reader that he failed to find certainty in the conventional places. This helps to convince the reader that a new and revolution method is needed. Descartes now resolves to make himself alone the object of study.

In Germany, Descartes repairs to a secluded room heated by a stove to occupy his attention with his own thoughts. Here he begins to discover his method.

When Descartes begins to philosophize he discovers four "precepts of logic" which he resolves never to violate: (1) to believe nothing except what is clear and distinct, (2) to divide up problems into appropriate parts, (3) to proceed from the simple to the complex, and (4) to make sure nothing is left out.
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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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This book was just what i needed for my class that required this it. thank you for this great book.
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