- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 30, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521423503
- ISBN-13: 978-0521423502
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #988,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Philosophical Writings of Descartes (Volume 3: The Correspondence (Paperback))
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Volume III contains 207 of Descartes' letters, over half of which have previously not been translated into English. It incorporates, in its entirety, Anthony Kenny's celebrated translation of selected philosophical letters, first published in 1970.
From the Back Cover
Volumes I and II provide a completely new translation of the philosophical work of Descartes, based on the best available Latin and French texts. Volume III contains 207 of Descartes' letters, over half of which have not previously been translated into English. It incorporates, in its entirety, Anthony Kenny's celebrated translation of selected philosophical letters first published in 1970. In conjunction with Volumes I and II it is designed to meet the widespread demand for a comprehensive, accurate and authoritative edition of Descartes' philosophical writings in clear and readable modern English.
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Like most selections, this one is vulnerable to the criticism of being both overinclusive and underinclusive. Overinclusive, because it includes the biweekly correspondence with Descartes's agent, countryman, and informer, in Paris, Father Mersenne, which takes about half the book and includes such banalities as printer's errors on the _Meditations_. Underinclusive, because, for instance, it edits down the Open Letter to Voetius down to a mere four pages, from over 200 in the Latin! What we get is mostly diatribe. Are we to assume that the missing 196 pages of writing, the publication of which he authorized during his lifetime, were also mostly diatribe? Far worse, however, is the exclusion of all letters written by anybody but Descartes. This is unusual, and significantly impedes the interpretation of what remains. This is most telling when Descartes reports having sent copies of some of his letters to a third party. He omits certain of these because they are "unintelligible" without the letters to which they are replies, which he does not have permission to send, yet they are included in this translation. Apparently, the translator/editors disagree with Descartes on the unintelligibility of his own writings! I would be inclined to agree with him. He is not otherwise too soft on his readers.
But what the translator/editors say in the preface is true, these are essential to a proper understanding of Descartes's philosophy. There are replies to objections to many of his works not included in the _Objections and Replies to the Meditations_ (vol. 2), but, alas, as noted above, the objections to which the replies are directed are not included. There are also juicy biographical tidbits, such as the political maneuvering that seems to have contributed substantially at least to the near-term success of Descartes's work.