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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 December 2014
In his Meditations Descartes tries to discard everything that he thinks he knows about what he is, and builds from the foundations up using his famous methodical doubt. Taking in what it is to be human, the Cogito principle, Cartesian duality, the existence of god, and the nature of error, he finally reaches a point where he can be secure about what it is possible to know in a clear and defined way.

Written in 1641, Descartes didn't have the full support of the theological colleges, and this edition helpfully attaches a selection from the Objections made to his Meditations.

For us, the kind of circular reasoning that Descartes demonstrates might not stand up, and certainly we have a very different view of the connection between mind and body following neuroscientific knowledge and ongoing research. But Descartes is important for the scientific methodology he tries to instil, and the fundamental nature of the questions he asks, even if some of our answers might be different.

His style isn't always the easiest to understand, as he tends to ramble and be quite repetitive - but for anyone wanting to get a handle on either modern philosophy or the Enlightenment and the ideas which followed, Descartes is fundamental.
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on 24 July 2011
This new Penguin edition includes the Meditations and selections from Principles of Philosophy and avoids repetition by omitting the simpler Discourse on Method. The Meditations is a keystone of 'modern' (as opposed to Medieval) philosophy and takes as its starting point the reconstruction of knowledge on a basis of absolute certainty. Hence Descartes begins by enumerating his inherited beliefs and subjecting them to the famous 'Cartesian doubt' ('Cartesian' from 'des Cartes'). This reduces him to the famous 'I think, I am' as indubitable. From there, he builds up a system of knowledge on the basis of arguments, starting with the existence of God and modeled on mathematical argumentation.

Used as a teaching text, Descartes can reduce students to a frustrated scepticism, as can Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. One wise professor who used Descartes as a class text taught it alongside Francis Bacon's writings which summarise the wealth and detail of knowledge, classified into history, poetry and philosophy to counteract abstract scepticism. Descartes was also contrasted in the 19th century with Blaise Pascal's Pensées, which says that 'the heart has its reasons that reason does not know' and thus rounded out the rationalistic idea of experience. Amongst modern critics, John Macmurray's The Self as Agent argues that it is incoherent to separate knowledge and practice.
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on 14 June 2004
Having just finished AS Philosophy, I can say that studying Descartes' meditations was both interesting and enjoyable. Descartes Rationalist philosophy may seem to not stand up to modern ideas, but his thorough look at the way we view the world is very engaging, and challenges ideas.
A great read for those with time to study!
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on 17 March 2002
The way rene descartes writes is beautiful to read
and his philosophy is much more easily understood because of this.His writings aren't just of philosophical importance they are great pieces of litreture in themselves and this translation preserves his fluidity of words.This is a great read and the transference of ideas is totally complete.
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on 14 January 2016
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on 29 August 2012
It is widely accepted that Descartes' conclusions were false. Perhaps "I am therefore I think" would be nearer the truth than "I think therefore I am". However, having taken the trouble to actually read his work I found it very stimulating. He comes across as quite modest, and deferential to his superiors at the Sorbonne. He is not afraid to pursue his enquiries and discard intermediate answers which present themselves. I did not feel obliged to either accept or reject the content of his enquiry but enjoy it as an example of an obviously intelligent man striving to understand a big subject.
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on 13 April 2015
Bought for daughter's studies
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on 3 November 2013
My book arrived around the estimated delivery time. However it was a lot more bent and damaged than I expected it would be which is a shame because it is such a great book.
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