Discourse on the Method...Complete Version

Discourse on the Method...Complete Version

by Rene Descartes

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Overview

The Discourse on the Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. Its full name is Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Searching for Truth in the Sciences (French title: Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la verité dans les sciences). The Discourse on Method is best known as the source of the famous quotation "Je pense, donc je suis" ("I think, therefore I am"), which occurs in Part IV of the work. (The similar statement in Latin, Cogito ergo sum, is found in §7 of Principles of Philosophy.) In addition, in one of its appendices, La Géométrie, is contained Descartes' first introduction of the Cartesian coordinate system.

The Discourse on the Method is one of the most influential works in the history of modern science. It is a method which gives a solid platform from which all modern natural sciences could evolve. In this work, Descartes tackles the problem of skepticism which had been revived from the ancients such as Sextus Empiricus by authors such as Al-Ghazali and Michel de Montaigne. Descartes modified it to account for a truth that he found to be incontrovertible. Descartes started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so as to assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of any preconceived notions.

The book was originally published in Leiden in French, together with his works "Dioptrique, Météores et Géométrie". Later, it was translated into Latin and published in 1656 in Amsterdam.

Together with Meditations on First Philosophy (Meditationes de Prima Philosophia), Principles of Philosophy (Principia philosophiae) and Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Regulae ad directionem ingenii), it forms the base of the Epistemology known as Cartesianism.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148571735
Publisher: Tower Publishing
Publication date: 02/16/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 531 KB

About the Author

René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Renatus Cartesius (latinized form), was a highly influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. Dubbed the "Founder of Modern Philosophy", and the "Father of Modern Mathematics", much of subsequent western philosophy is a reaction to his writings, which have been closely studied from his time down to the present day. His influence in mathematics is also apparent, the Cartesian coordinate system being used in plane geometry and algebra being named after him, and he was one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution. Descartes frequently contrasted his views with those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, he goes so far as to assert that he will write on his topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Nevertheless many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like St. Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the Schools on two major points: first, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends—divine or natural—in explaining natural phenomena. In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God’s act of creation. Descartes was a major figure in 17th century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes founded analytic geometry, that bridge between algebra and geometry crucial to the invention of calculus and analysis. Descartes's reflections on mind and mechanism began the strain of western thought that much later, impelled by the invention of the electronic computer and by the possibility of machine intelligence, blossomed into, e.g., the Turing test. His most famous statement is: Cogito ergo sum (French: Je pense, donc je suis; English: I think, therefore I am),

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