Discourse on Method and the Meditations

Front Cover
Penguin Books Limited, 1968 - Philosophy - 187 pages
0 Reviews
René Descartes was a central figure in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. In his Discourse on Method he outlined the contrast between mathematics and experimental sciences, and the extent to which each one can achieve certainty. Drawing on his own work in geometry, optics, astronomy and physiology, Descartes developed the hypothetical method that characterizes modern science, and this soon came to replace the traditional techniques derived from Aristotle. Many of Descartes' most radical ideas - such as the disparity between our perceptions and the realities that cause them - have been highly influential in the development of modern philosophy.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (1968)

René Descartes was born in 1596 at La Haye (now called Descartes) near Tours, and educated at the Jesuit College at La Flèche. Like many of his contemporaries he contested the value of an education based on Aristotelianism and, after leaving college, attempted to resolve the sceptical crisis of his age by devising a method of reasoning modelled on the rigour and certainty of mathematics.

Despite claiming to avoid theological questions and stay within the scope of human reason, his writings involved him in numerous disputes with theologians of both the Catholic and (especially) the Reformed persuasion. In 1621, after a period spent in the Netherlands, Bohemia and Hungary as a soldier, he left the army and devoted himself to the study of science and philosophy. He retired to the Netherlands in 1628 and spent the next twenty years there, living and working in seclusion. Then in late 1649, after an invitation the previous year, he went to Sweden to take up a post instructing Queen Christina in philosophy.

Descartes' habit for many years was to rise not much before midmorning but the Queen wished to be tutored at five o'clock in the morning, three days a week. This and the cold weather placed a severe strain on Descartes' health and he contracted pneumonia, dying in Stockholm in early 1650, having only just begun to teach the Queen. His last words were r

Bibliographic information