Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings (Penguin Classics)

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In fact, he decided to consider statements even slightly doubtful to be on the same footing as statements that were manifestly false. This is a remarkable approach for someone living in the early s. However, even after he doubts everything, he notices that he cannot doubt the fact that he is doubting. That he is a thinking being. This statement is arguably the most popular phrase ever written or said by any philosopher. In Meditations, Descartes introduces a number of ideas — some original and some rephrased versions of those that had previously existed.

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For example, the Ontological proof for the existence of God had existed for a long time, and Descartes gave his own version - God is an entity greater than whom nothing can be conceived; existence is a positive trait; therefore, God without existence is inferior to God with existence, therefore the concept of God necessitates his existence. His work also saw the emergence of two new revolutionary ideas.

The first one was Rationalism , the view that knowledge can be derived from pure reasoning and logic, without any inputs from the external physical world. Descartes never uses this term, but his methodology serves as a perfect example of this technique. The second one was Dualism , the view that there are two types of substances — mind and matter.

Humans, for example, had a thinking non-material mind and a non-thinking material body. The first time I had heard about his proofs for the existence of God, I had wondered how he had been called a rationalist. But what Descartes is trying to say is that a God is necessary for us to have any knowledge at all — the concept of a benevolent God ensures that I am justified in accepting the general beliefs that make life possible, for he is presenting those ideas to me and, being benevolent, he cannot be a deceiver.

If I reject his existence, I cannot possibly know anything at all , as I may be being deceived at every instant of my life. Descartes often uses long sentences, and it is a treat for the involved reader as he tries to make sense of them. Often, I would have to re-read entire paragraphs just to understand what he was saying, because they would amalgamate various issues related to the central message.

If not anything else, the book would surely serve as an example of how to coherently present a set of ideas which have many strands at each level. The importance of this work in the history of philosophy cannot be overemphasised. The two works combined barely reach a hundred and fifty pages, and it is indispensable reading for anyone even slightly interested in the history of development of human thought.

Aug 28, Anita rated it did not like it Shelves: Descartes starts out in his Discourse questioning if we have have good sense, how we reason, if schooling helps us learn,and what the written word does for the mind. He doesn't answer all of these but seems to believe that knowledge leads to knowledge and that we will always question everything.

Discourse on Method and Related Writings - Penguin Random House Education

He says that we need to know world history and customs in order to respect that whch is different from ourselves while being careful not to forget our own customs when removed from them. The most importan Descartes starts out in his Discourse questioning if we have have good sense, how we reason, if schooling helps us learn,and what the written word does for the mind.

The most important thing that can be gathered from his reflections but I didn't need for him to tell me so is that laws created overtime by growing civilisations may not be right for current civilisations. He claims that design by one true religion-Christianity I'm assuming as opposed to design by many science is better. He says that change occurs when you realize that the old ways do not work and encourages scrutinizing what you believe. Suggesting all the while that it is sometimes easier to go with the flow of a belief. He has some rules on discerning what you know from what you do not.

Accept only that which you are sure of.

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Divide difficulties to as small pieces as necessary. Solve the simplest problems first. Make lists, tables and diagrams. He says that he "should regulate [his] practice comfortably to the opinions of those with whom [he] should have to live" and "obey the laws and customs of [his] country". He claims that nothing but our own thoughts are within our power.

He tries to prove the existence of god and the soul. Here is here concept: I think hence I am. I am a substance whose whole essence or natue consists only in thinking and has no need of place and is not dependent on any material thing. Which means the mind is distinct from the body. The three things that he seems to know exists is god, the mind, and the body. Descartes is not relevant to study and has basically no merit. Throughout the entire Discourse he is adamant about god's existence but never puts god through the same rules as everything else.

While questioning "What is I" he could have been questioning also "Does god exist"? He's faulty in his method and thought nothing that an illiterate person would not come up with on their own. Descartes was determined, in these very closely reasoned meditations, to demonstrate to skeptics two matters of indubitable certainty: For the latter, Descartes relies upon the ontological argument. The argument is curious. Personally, everytime I hear it, I am convinced. Because we can think of God, it follows that existence is inherent within the idea, if only one would observe; similarly, in a right-angled triangle, it follows that the angles add up to , if only one would Descartes was determined, in these very closely reasoned meditations, to demonstrate to skeptics two matters of indubitable certainty: Because we can think of God, it follows that existence is inherent within the idea, if only one would observe; similarly, in a right-angled triangle, it follows that the angles add up to , if only one would observe.

However, the silliness of this argument, exposed by Kant, becomes immediately apparent when one asks concerning the triangle, "How would you define it? But this is not, as Hegel would show, an unnecessary abstraction if one can see it as inseparable from the self in the sense that the ideas of human beings are in potentiality and, seeing all history as a single substance, really existing already quite the Christian concept, "We are working our way towards the Kingdom of God, etc. This is how Descartes defends it in the reply to the first objection: But what makes humanity capable of this sort of change, whereas animals are not, is reason.

The fact that thinking is more fundamental to us than whatever our animal behavior may be results in the indubitable proof of the self. As far as I can see, those that move toward the latter claim, procreation is everything, claim the self has been lost, while the former claim it was only you that lost it, being alienated by power systems telling you procreation is everything. Oct 03, Bola Shokry rated it it was amazing Shelves: I enrolled in Loyola University Chicago's graduate program in philosophy after two years of dead-end jobs upon completion of seminary.

The motivation was primarily intellectual. Previous study had served to raise questions more than answer them and some knowledge of the history and thought of the modern West had served to raise questions about their foundations. More specifically, the study of continental depth psychologies had indicated a philosophical as well as an empirical basis for them.

Discourse on Method and Related Writings

My I enrolled in Loyola University Chicago's graduate program in philosophy after two years of dead-end jobs upon completion of seminary. My roommate, Mike Miley, was attending Loyola as an adult undergraduate, was enjoying it and had informed me that it had the largest philosophy program in the United States. Besides, it was walking distance from our apartment. Having already completed four years of graduate school, my transcripts and thesis were submitted for advanced standing consideration.


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That took a year. In the meantime, I enrolled in basic courses, aiming to fill in the gaps of a previously spotty study of philosophy. Plato, naturally, came up immediately as a concern as did Descartes. In considering the teaching of philosophy, I've marvelled at how students at an introductory level are introduced to the field by such figures as Kant, Hegel and Heidegger. One cannot read them without knowing a good deal about their predecessors. What an undergraduate student can get into immediately are some of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Locke, Nietzsche and Descartes, particularly his Discourse and his Meditations.

Incidentally, Descartes was read for the History of Classical Modern Philosophy, taught by a barely competent woman fresh out graduate school whose name escapes me. Apr 13, Derek Davis rated it really liked it. Descartes did much to lift philosophy and, especially mathematics, from the rigid yet scattershot approach of the middle ages. The "Discourse" is a sort of how-to guide to critical thinking, while the "Meditations" put the stress on what he has discovered through use of the method.

In a nutshell, the method is to remove all prejudices of inquiry from your mind, as much as is humanly possible, so that you start with a clean mental slate upon which you enter the most fundamental, unquestionable tru Descartes did much to lift philosophy and, especially mathematics, from the rigid yet scattershot approach of the middle ages. In a nutshell, the method is to remove all prejudices of inquiry from your mind, as much as is humanly possible, so that you start with a clean mental slate upon which you enter the most fundamental, unquestionable truths; you then build up from there through the the exclusive use of internal reason he lay in bed cogitating for hours each morning.


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The truth most fundamental, he decided, was "I think, therefore I am. But they were not entirely successful. Like anyone, at any time, he was captive to much of the underlying but unstated idea-structure of his age. His supposedly clear, incontrovertible apprehension of God is almost medieval, not far removed from Anselm and Aquinas.

On the other hand, his insistence on the need for experiment to establish scientific truth is decidedly modern. As for the man himself, his continual outpourings of modesty and humility provoke behind-the-hand snickers. Hey, Rene, we know you think you're a genius. First read for A level philosophy, I loathed it. Descartes can be such an irritating read! My experience of this book was more like ploughing than reading. I understand and appreciate why this was - and of course still is - an extremely important text for modern philosophy.

Certainly at the time, his thoughts and ideas were something special. His arguments are littered with flaws though - I worry about anyone who can take the ontological argument seriously what with its infinitely circular form First read for A level philosophy, I loathed it. His arguments are littered with flaws though - I worry about anyone who can take the ontological argument seriously what with its infinitely circular form and method of merely defining God into existence hardly without an argument at all!

That said, I can see why it needs to be read and pondered on.

If you are new to philosophy, it certainly sets a questioning tone which is hugely important for philosophy as a whole. Descartes' method of systematically removing any previously held belief and building his convinctions from scratch is a good one and he makes some good points about the unreliability of the senses. Worth reading if you want to take philosophy further or if you are merely interested in the ideas presented. Aug 03, Chris Schaeffer rated it it was amazing. I read this concurrently with 'The God Delusion,' a book which repeatedly and grossly mischaracterizes Descartes' ideas.

Look, Descartes came out with a lot of wrong conclusions. He started from some pretty outdated premises and went from there. But he wasn't stupid. I hate that received wisdom I encountered all throughout college and afterwards that Descartes was some bozo whose drool spelled out "mind body dualism" and that's all there is to know about him. The Meditations have this incredible I read this concurrently with 'The God Delusion,' a book which repeatedly and grossly mischaracterizes Descartes' ideas.

The Meditations have this incredible energy to them, this indescribable playfulness and eagerness to examine. Even if his conclusions and his methodologies are suspect I think his basic attitude is one that a lot of students and writers would benefit from re-evaluating. Jul 10, Brittany Petruzzi rated it really liked it Shelves: Excellent work; wretched consequences. Jun 15, Josh Anderson rated it really liked it. Descarte's God is active in his life inasmuch as he meditates on the immensity of it all, and the way that he is under a conservation just as much as he is enabled to create.

In this way, his God is personal. Never does he claim mystic visions, or manic inspirations and in fact, we see, that he really would like to root that out of himself, and humanity as a whole if possible. He sees two kinds of thinking, wrong thinking and right thinking. He sees "truths" that have been built upon lies or assumptions, and ones that must be demolished like old buildings in "more perfect" cities than the bric-a-brac we see in urban sprawl.

The metaphor of the city planner as he relates to the philosopher is introduced in the Discourse on Method, and is brought back later in hints during the Meditations, as he favors more Eastern-flavored images. That is the conclusion that I can draw from this. That Descartes found in himself a consolation, a solace, but he called it Meditations as if he saw the importance in returning to them. He goes from a more hardened Western narrative to a gradually more Eastern one-ness, to the point where one must question how Descartes must have battled whether God was a worthwhile technology at all.

And that is what I find most fascinating, that Deity, in all it's forms, is a medium like no other. A technology in its rawest, most powerful form, and that although he may not have said it, Descartes found in himself a technology that wrapped its loving wings around him in cherubic fashion. The meditation on the wax is so simple, you could tell it to a child, yet it introduced questions of epistemology, of meaning and concepts, of continuum, and one could say, a whole alchemical process. Or maybe we can, but not at Descarte's time. I think this ends with the questions of whether a. God is a technology and a medium, as the mirror of man, and reflects our desires from the very beginning, to be more perfect, and in that sense, one has to wonder whether the Atheist Existentialists are possibly taking MORE responsibility for life in a way that Christ himself was getting at, and the church got dreadfully wrong, or c.

Biography 5 Meditations 36 11 Feb 22, He has been dubbed the "Father of Modern Philosophy," and much of subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which continue to be studied closely. His influence in mathematics is also apparent, the Cartesian coordinate system that is used in plane geometry and algebra being named for him, and he was one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution.

Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul , a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, he goes so far as to assert that he will write on his topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like St. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the Schools on two major points: First, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends — divine or natural — in explaining natural phenomena.

Descartes was a major figure in 17th century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes founded analytic geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the invention of calculus and analysis.

Descartes' reflections on mind and mechanism began the strain of Western thought that much later, impelled by the invention of the electronic computer and by the possibility of machine intelligence, blossomed into the Turing test and related thought. His most famous statement is: Cogito ergo sum French: Je pense, donc je suis ; English: See All Goodreads Deals…. Trivia About Discourse on Meth Poetry and Fairy Tales. Wine and Other Drinks. General Fitness and Sport. Self Sufficiency and Farming.

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Oriental Medicine and Reflexology. Pop Rock and Country. NZ Recreational and Outdoors. NZ Biography and Autobiography. NZ Sociology and Politics. NZ Recreation and Outdoors. Politics and Current Affairs. About Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings One of the foundation-stones of modern philosophy Descartes was prepared to go to any lengths in his search for certainty—even to deny those things that seemed most self-evident. Also by Rene Descartes. See all books by Rene Descartes. About Rene Descartes Rene Descartes — , the French philosopher and mathematician, is regarded as the founder of modern philosophy.

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