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Introducing Descartes Paperback – 1 Jul 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd; New edition edition (1 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840460636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840460636
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.1 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 649,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Oct 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a very good introduction to Cartesian philosophy; it is simple to understand, without being too simplistic, wide-ranging, covering the background to cartesian philosophy and the far-reaching effects of Descartes' ideas, even touching briefly on quantum mechanics.
The text is well written, and the illustrations are fantastic, and worth the cover price alone.
I cannot recommend this series of books too highly as an excellent starting point to further reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peachi on 24 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
Really good little book if you want some basic background info on the father of modern philosophy. It tells you in very easy to understand terms the basics of Descartes teachings and beliefs and uses language that is ideal for a beginner. Not ideal if you have an advanced knowledge of Descartes or his teachings as it is a bit on the more basic side, but still very good if you want to reacquaint yourself with him!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 July 1999
Format: Paperback
This book gives a clear representation of Descarte's ideas and, although some are quite dated and obviously too dependant on theological arguments rather than logical ones, this book gives an insight into how Descarte changed the way we think today. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who occasionally thinks.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this volume of Introducing. I feel I understand somewhat the thinking of this man, and I can see now the huge contribution he made to modern philosophy and science. It is fascinating to think that his work is seen as the start of modern philosophy and science and how he is directly and indirectly responsible for our Post-modern technological world. If it wasn't for Descartes we may not have been communicating here on Amazon since the scientific revolution may never have properly taken off, since it was Descartes who first formulated the idea of radical skepticism. Accepting only that which can be satisfactorily proven.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
you'd think people know how this series works by now 25 Feb 2002
By Joel Brown - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a perfect read for the layman who maybe doesn't have long periods of time to devote to reading who has the desire to learn about the father of modern philosophy and its problem of consciousness. I easily completed this book within one afternoon. Though it has a typical amount of pages, the comic-like format turns the read into a swift breeze filled with humor and creativity. It begins with explaining why Descartes is the father of modern philosophy, namely that he thought for himself (in a departure from Scholasticism). Though he retained Christian belief throughout his life, he was a very rational and mathematically minded person in the field of science that he managed to keep secular in practice, though it would ultimately be verified on God the Geometer's grounds. Aside from his biography, this Cartesian exordium lays out the philosophy of mind and all of the perspectives on it. (dual aspect monism, occasionalism, epiphenomenalism, materialism, functionalism, behaviourism, cognitivism and pyschophysical parallelism--for some more recent takes on the ghost in the machine I recommend Colin Mcginn's "The Mysterious Flame") Inevitably these talks bring up the issue of artificial intelligence and conscious automata.
Obviously like any other book in the "Introducing" series this book is simple, general, and fun, but at the same time comprehensive and a great starting point.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I didn't know much about Descartes before, so I bought this book and it is great for beginners. It also has some funny illustrations. If you don't know anything about his ideas, apart from "I think, therefore I am", you will enjoy this book. Otherwise, if you think you're a little more advanced, then read "Descartes: the great philosophers" by John Cottingham.
Cogito ergo Sum - I think therefore I am 20 Mar 2007
By OverTheMoon - Published on
Format: Paperback
Descartes is responsible for discovering a series of explanations for the Cogito. Descartes is mainly good at asking the right questions, getting the maths right, but his philosophies are a series of stepping stones that although quite forgotten today were useful tools for the dawn of scientific theory. For this reason Descartes is best taken with `Introduction to Newton and classical physics' for the pre-Newton physics thoughts, although it works well enough as a standalone. This is also the era of pre-psychoanalysis at the basic level.

Descartes, a Frenchman, was sickly as a child and was allowed to stay in bed until early afternoon. He learned Greek and Latin and music. He spent his teens and early 20s in the army. In the winter of 1619 he was snowed in and spent the months just thinking to himself in his room about the mind. He had a number of what he believed were prophetical dreams, moved to Holland, rejected that theism could explain the mind (although he believed in a God), got interested in Galileo's experiments, and decided to experiment on the mind.

Core criteria:

Reduction in mathematics

Rejecting final cause

Clear ideas in a cleared mind

The modes of wax

Rationalists and empiricists


Consequences and death

Cartesian doubt


Rationalists and reason

Invisible demons and the God filter

Impossibility of private language

Cogito ergo Sum - I think therefore I am

Ontological argument

Meditations on perception



Res Extensa


Cartesian dualism



The mind body problem






The thinking individual


This is a great part of the history of psychology and physics. The only problem is that it is missing a better reference with evolution which would help explain many of the problems we are left with. This is part of what happens when you read Descartes because it is part of the historical record and has since been improved upon by Newton in physics and Fraud in psychology.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Introducing Descartes: an invitation into thought 6 Dec 2000
By - Published on
Format: Paperback
Perhaps one of the largest criticism of the entire series of these books is the lack of depth. I find this a strength. Already fairly familiar with Descartes I found this book to cover a broad scope of theories related to Descartes'. Admittedly there are points where depth could be needed. I think though that the people that complain about depth, are the same people who need to be spoon-fed how to think. I found that the work, made me ponder about some of the issues put forth by it. So if you want to be spoon-fed opinion, and then consider yourself an "intellectual." Then by all means avoid this book, and find something more detailed. However if you feel you are capable of deeper INDEPENDANT thought, but simply need a starting point, this is a must have.
More than you cared to know about the "I think therefore I am" guy 14 Jun 2007
By S. Kosloske - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's an easy going read and quite informative, but I felt they stretched it a bit to make a full book out of his work. Could have been half the length, I think.
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