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René Descartes (1596-1650) was an influential French philosopher, and many subsequent Western philosophers created their ideas around or in reaction to his. His main philosophical contribution is the oft-repeated maxim "cogito ergo sum", or "I think therefore I am". His ability to reason and thus his own existence are indubitable, and from here, he can work to prove other seemingly obvious facts, like mathematical reasoning. From these, he then attempted to prove more abstract concepts, like the existence of God. Descartes also studied mathematics and physics, and he is seen as an influential force on Isaac Newton's studies.
Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes; Michael Moriarty (Translator);
Publication Date: 2008
In Descartes's Meditations, one of the key texts of Western philosophy, the thinker rejects all his former beliefs in the quest for new certainties. Discovering his own existence as a thinking entity in the very exercise of doubt, he goes on to prove the existence of God, who guarantees his clear and distinct ideas as a means of access to the truth. He develops new conceptions of body and mind, capable of serving as foundations for the new science of nature. Subsequent philosophy has grappled with Descartes's legacy, questioning many of its conclusions and even his basic approach, but his arguments set the agenda for many of the greatest philosophical thinkers, and their fascination endures. This translation includes a selection from the rest of Descartes's exchanges with contemporaries that helped to shape and expound his philosophy.
Discourse on Method and Related Writings by René Descartes; Desmond M. Clarke (Introduction by, Notes by, Translator)
Publication Date: 2000
Descartes' Discourse on Methodhas long been regarded as a seminal contribution to modern philosophy. We can now see that it is also one of the key texts in the 'scientific revolution' of the seventeenth century. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) did major research in optics, geometry, astronomy and physiology, although he published nothing until he was over forty. The Discourseforms the preface to his first collection of scientific papers (1637), sketching in a new method based on hypothesis and deduction which was soon to replace traditional techniques derived from Aristotle. This edition puts the work in context, by including extracts from Descartes' correspondence, the Rules for Guiding One's Intelligenceand from The World- a posthumously published summary of his physical theories.