Discourse on Method and Related Writings
Prices for book: Discourse on Method and Related Writings
Book ISBN: 9780140446999
Author(s): Rene Descartes
Document type: Trade Paper
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The Hobo Philosopher
This is the first "real" philosopher whose actual words I sat down and read. I was a young college student at the time and I guess what attracted me most to this work was the fact that Descartes was going to disregard all his learning and figure everything out on his own. I liked the idea of tossing away all the books. I was probably tried of studying at that time and full to the brim on books.
Reading this book was a good experience in "thinking". It was also an ego builder because I felt that I was reading a "smart" guy.
This book is not a difficult read. Any young person who would like to get his feet wet in "philosophy" can take on this book and have fun twisting his little brain.
I remember how pleasant it felt to be sitting on my front porch and imagining myself to be capable of reading one of the smartest men who ever lived. It was a real ego trip.
Richard E. Noble (Amazon.com)
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.
D. Cory (Amazon.com)
I think, therefore I read...
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about his own form of mystical experience, seeing this as almost a kind of revelation that all past knowledge would be superseded, and all problems would eventually be solved by human intellect.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.
Descartes in his first section discounts much of Scholasticism, stating that the only real absolutes are theology and mathematics; because theology is based upon revelation, it is therefore beyond reason, and thus, mathematics becomes the only rational truth. Descartes develops this idea further with rules of method, which include ideas of intuition, analysis and deduction. He uses some of his method to come up with his greatest proposition:
Cogito ergo sum - - I think, therefore I am
'The Cogito is a first principle from which Descartes will now deduce all that follows.' This permits Descartes to deal both with rational elements and empirical data.
The other writings included here give good insight into the ways in which this method influenced Descartes. His correspondence was one of the things for which he was most famous during his lifetime, and Descartes carried on extensive correspondence with people throughout Europe helping educate and elucidate through his writing.
This is an important text; the 'Discourse on Method' is one that I read the summer before I went to college, and makes a good study for those who wish to see the personal element in the development of philosophy.
FrKurt Messick (Amazon.com)
I think this is a great book therefore it is...
Discourse on Method forces you to look at the world in a completely different manner. Simply go to a quiet place and shut your eyes for a moment -- after you read this review. You cannot see anything nor hear anything apart from your thoughts. At this point, can you prove that anything really exists? Do you exist? If so, then why? How can you prove it? The answer lay in the following three words: Cogito Ergo Sum - I think, therefore I am. If you are up to solving the afore mentioned and other philosophical conundrums, I would definately recommend this book!
Brandon Osborne (Amazon.com)
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