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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discourse on Method and the Meditations
This may not have been made clear before but this book actually contains two seperate books as mentioned in the title.

'Discourse on method' is the book in which Descartes first utters the maxim which is generally acknowledged to be the foundation of all modern philosophy: "I think therefore I am". This first book is mainly about his realisation that all...
Published on 19 April 2008 by John

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4 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good pictures shame about the content
I found this book to be in parts hilarious. Some of the cutting humour had me in stitches. On the whole though I was mostly unimpressed as it failed to sustain this level of wit throughout the book.
Published on 7 April 2003 by Andrew Wilson


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discourse on Method and the Meditations, 19 April 2008
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This may not have been made clear before but this book actually contains two seperate books as mentioned in the title.

'Discourse on method' is the book in which Descartes first utters the maxim which is generally acknowledged to be the foundation of all modern philosophy: "I think therefore I am". This first book is mainly about his realisation that all perceived truths are to be taken with a grain of salt and provides a step by step method on how to live your intellectual life so as to avoid mistruths which the subjective view of things can provide. It is fairly interesting in some parts but largely boring in others. It is worth a read but nothing compared to 'The meditations'.

'The Meditations' is Descartes' masterpiece, it is also his most famous. It is in this book that he gives his account of the infamous, all powerful deceptive demon which tricks us to the point that we cannot trust any information presented to us. Descartes also provides his version of the ontological argument for God which is easily understandable compared to other more confusing versions. However, you would be mistaken in thinking that this book is limited in the ideas it has to offer. The arguments that Descartes puts forward is numerous but they are all extremely interesting and anyone would benefit from reading them. I highly recommend this book.

As for any further reading I would suggest Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding", something by Hume or if you are up to the challenge then "Ethics" by Spinoza which builds on what Descartes says and confronts the problem of the interaction between mind and body if they are to be thought of as separate entities.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Meditations' leave us with much to contemplate, 3 Nov. 2002
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With such works as 'The Republic' (Plato), the 'Metaphysics' (Aristotle), 'A Treatise of Human Nature' (David Hume) and the 'Critique of Pure Reason' (Immanuel Kant), Descartes' 'Meditations' is one of the seminal achievements in Western philosophical thought. Composed over six days in 1641, they consider, among other things, the existence of the self, the existence of God and the basis of human belief. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and the 'Discourse On Method' and the 'Meditations'- among his most studied texts- clearly demonstrate why. Descartes, writing in the first person, offers us a telling insight into his composition of the 'Meditations', and gives us clues as to what feelings and emotions he experienced in writing them. John Locke (1632-1704), the father of the British Empiricist movement (the belief that all knowledge is based on experience) spoke in 'An Essay Concerning Human Understanding' (1690) of how new concepts are often ignored for that very reason- that they are new, and often defy convention. Yet Descartes' 'Meditations'- riddled not with new ideas but with new ways of looking at familiar ideas- have stood the test of time. They are six thoughtful, beautifully-written essays which leave us with much to contemplate through their remarkable originality. F.E. Sutcliffe offers a lucid translation that amplifies Descartes' genius, through his clear presentation of the Frenchman's ideas and concerns.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think, therefore I read, 29 Dec. 2005
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Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy (Hackett Classics) (Paperback)
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 major piece in this collection, 'The Meditations', includes several different mediations, including that on the existence of the soul, the existence of God, the material world, things we may doubt, and other philosophical problems of the time. These meditations do incorporate Descartes attempt to employ his method to some degree, but at the same time divert into other means. For example, Descartes' meditation on the existence of God is in many ways the Anselm ontological proof revisited, and has a certain circular reasoning to it.
This is an important text, 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Descartes: Discourse on Method and meditations., 18 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy (Hackett Classics) (Paperback)
This version of Discourse on Method and Meditations gives you exactly what you want - a very good translationa and simply and proffesionally put together. Perfect for philosophy students. If you're considering reading out of interest, this of course is a very important text in philosophy and very though provoking. There are perhaps philosphers which are more interesting, but the ideas in this book are certainly worth considering.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Condition, 16 Dec. 2012
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The book arrived in great condition, although I have realised that this is an older publishing of the book, so the language is a bit more difficult. It was a great read nevertheless.
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7 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Descartes should have gone out more., 8 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
Descartes is the father of modern philosophy - its true. His meditations came to him while he sat for several days in a giant oven - its true. He died from having to get up too early - its true.
The project of pure enquiry is a bit boring, though the questions it raises concerning consciousness have been a major addition to the discourse of philosophy of mind.
A seminal philosophy text in every way, but not the sort of thing you'd read for fun.
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2 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is absolutly inspiring, 18 July 1999
By A Customer
Great book, go buy it! Descartes is one the true geniuses of this world
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4 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good pictures shame about the content, 7 April 2003
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I found this book to be in parts hilarious. Some of the cutting humour had me in stitches. On the whole though I was mostly unimpressed as it failed to sustain this level of wit throughout the book.
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