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Discourse on Method

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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  16,631 ratings  ·  519 reviews
By far the most widely used translation in North American college classrooms, Donald A. Cress's translation from the French of the Adam and Tannery critical edition is prized for its accuracy, elegance, and economy. The translation featured in the Third Edition has been thoroughly revised from the 1979 First Edition and includes page references to the critical edition for ...more
Paperback, 58 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published June 8th 1637)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Orhan Pelinkovic
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
The writing in the book is very accessible and the language used comprehensible, yet the content is dense with a deep insightful meaning. The Discourse on the Method (1637) is written by the revered French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650).

Descartes claims that the capacity of having a good sense is equally distributed among humans, and the capability to make sound judgments is a natural ability that all people possess. But it's not enough to just have this ability; we
...more
Stephen
3.0 to 3.5 stars (though as mentioned below, the first four sections get 4 to 5 stars).

One of the most influential works in history of modern science/philosophy, the full name of the work is "Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences." It is a work that deals with the ascertaining of knowledge from "first principals" and creates a method from which all research into scientific principals could be based.

He begins by saying that because so
...more
Darwin8u
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
...the perusal of all excellent books is, as it were, to interview with the noblest men of past ages, who have written them.
René Descartes, Discourse on Method

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There are certain books that are hugely influential and fantastic reads. This one was hugely influential. In many ways modern science (and philosophy) owes a great deal to some of the frameworks, methods, and rationalities posited by Descartes in this book. Hell, even the idea of starting off skeptical and building from there owes a
...more
Ioana
I concede the point: my entire philosophical raison d'être orbits around the deconstruction of the false dualism unleashed upon the world by René. Though, albeit, alas, perhaps it is unfair to blame him entirely, seeing as the Greeks started it, and considering that R. was most likely just articulating an ethos since embodied by Western (European) civilization.

Dualism: the idea of separation, articulation, and demarcation, specifically into a binary framework, is the essential construct
...more
Dan
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Discourse on the Methods by Rene Descartes

I think, therefore I am (COGITO ERGO SUM) ........ if all the other objects which I had ever imagined had been in reality existent, I would have had no reason to believe that I existed; I thence concluded that I was a substance whose whole essence or nature consists only in thinking.

COGITO ERGO SUM is perhaps the most famous line ever written in all of philosophy. It is found about half-way through this treatise, which was published in 1637 and is
...more
Rowland Pasaribu
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Discourse on the Method is a fascinating book, both as a work of philosophy and as a historical document. Descartes lived and worked in a period that Thomas Kuhn would call a "paradigm shift": one way of thinking, one worldview, was slowly being replaced by another. Descartes's work, while part of the new paradigm, still has one leg in the old mode of thought.

The old, waning worldview was scholastic Aristotelianism. The Aristotelian paradigm had a conception of the mind, of knowledge, and of
...more
Gator
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

Reading good books is like engaging in conversation with the most cultivated minds of past centuries who had composed them, or rather, taking part in a well-conducted dialogue in which such minds reveal to us only the best of their thoughts.

That is because God isnt a deceiver, which implies that he has given me the ability to correct any falsity there may be in my opinions. Indeed, everything that I am taught by nature certainly contains some truth. For the term nature, understood in the most
...more
Thomas
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Endeavor always to master myself rather than fortune, to try to change my desires rather than to change the order of the world, and in general to settle for the belief that there is nothing entirely in our power except our thoughts, and after we have tried, in respect of things external to us, to do our best, everything in which we do not succeed is absolutely impossible as far as we are concerned.
...more
david
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just walk away Rene.

Well, another genius buried a long time ago with his philosophy.

Some of his thoughts resonated with me.

Much of it did not.

The hubris of many thinkers can be disagreeable to someone who has himself developed an unshared personal map/strategy for life after existing here for many years.

Onward.
...more
Luís
What to add that has not already been said about what is perhaps the most famous of "speeches"? Not much, in my opinion, so I will briefly summarize the object and the reason for the book.

First of all, the preface makes clear, and it is a question of approaching the work not as an exposition of philosophy, but as a preparation for it. Indeed, Descartes sees himself constrained, by learning of the condemnation of Galileo for his ideas too accurate for the time, to make consequent cuts on what
...more
bugen
Summary of my notes on the Discourse, by part:

I. The premise is introduced that reason is naturally equal in all, and truth is to be found by conducting it correctly. Descartes attempts to show how he himself has attempted this, not to dictate how everyone should.

II. The method. Descartes wished to rebuild the very foundations upon which his opinions and views were formed. He decided to do this by systematic doubt. The key point is to never accept as true anything that is not known to be
...more
Justin Benjamin
Jul 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Rene Descartes Discourse on the Method is one of the most difficult books for me to review, in that it is half inspiring to me, and half disappointing; what starts out as a brilliant doubting methodology, eliminating whatever can be doubted until there is nothing left than can be by any conjecture or hypothesis be reasonably doubted- arrive at a basic, fundamental truth, providing a firm rational foundation from other truths can be derived. Unfortunately, once Descartes discovers this truth, (I ...more
Tala
Feb 27, 2020 added it
i was forced into reading this and i deeply, deeply despise descartes.
Hirdesh
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to come..
Nemo
Apr 09, 2017 added it
Shelves: philosophy
René Descartes
An Interview with Descartes

N: Cartesius, ever since I read your treatise "Meditations on First Philosophy: In which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated", I've wished to meet you in person and discuss the subjects in detail.

C: Is that why you imagined this conversation with me?

N: Unfortunately, I have no power of imagination, with which you are abundantly gifted.

C: Nemo, you're gifted with the faculty of reason, which all men have, and by which you can
...more
Mel Vincent
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Rene Descartes is not only a pure optimist and a wide thinker but he too is very eloquent, charismatic, simple and very brilliant in how he fuses his ideas and arguments to that of different sciences such as anatomy and to an extent, psychology itself.

While reading this it is as if you are not reading a highly charged philosophy book but instead it makes you think that it is in fact a travel novel, which is amazing. Rene Descartes articulately draws his own opinions on the environs, perceptions,
...more
Ben Loory
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
HOW AWESOME I AM AND HOW I GOT TO BE THIS WAY

the first part's great, where he's talking about re-educating himself from the ground up and throwing away all the nonsensical crap that got poured into him by other people as he was growing up. but then once he gets started again from first principles or whatever, he immediately wanders off into some pretty shaky god stuff and then it just turns into a description of how the innards of the body work which hey, might be right, but ain't so interesting
...more
Emma Angeline
so we might all be in the matrix and like no wonder he had nervous breakdowns
Xander
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Discours de la Méthod (1637) is Descartes' summary introduction to his new method to acquire clear and distinct knowledge. It was published as an alternative to his planned work Le monde (including a treatise on man, L'homme), in which he argues for a mechanistic worldview and a new way of viewing man (as a material machine with an immortal soul). He broke off the writing process when he learned of Galileo's conviction by the Vatican due to the publication of his Dialogue on Two Chief World ...more
Jack
Scholastic Aristotelians CRUSHED by SCEPTICISM and RATIONALITY
TrumanCoyote
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Hard for me to take seriously someone who talks about perfection like it's a trait--when really it's more of a relationship between traits, or an aesthetic response to them. A master of taking 500 words to say something obvious (like Proust); and the relentless latinate style grew tiresome quickly. Also full of ridiculous insincerities: on the one hand he's leaving notes to posterity, then saying nobody cares about a schmucky little goober like himself. And with the last sentence he seems to be ...more
Kyle van Oosterum
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
One of two essential works of Descartes, I must say I'm always astonished by the lucidity of his prose and thought. While I disagree fundamentally with his repetitive presupposition that is God is necessarily good and thus does not deceive him about anything he knows or believes, I cannot understate how indebted we are to him.

"At last I will devote myself sincerely and without reservation to the general demolition of all my opinions." (Except my belief in God).
Victor
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
I dont know how to rate this. I read this for my critical theory class and the reading experience definitely wasnt enjoyable but it kind of went over my head so I dont really know how to explain it. ...more
Bilgehan
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Brilliant yet wrong in almost every aspect.
Sidharth Vardhan
The first four sections deserved full five stars for what they have done for thought-philosophy but last two sections are redundant to say the least and that is where my rating declined.
Christopher McCaffery
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Trash, but fascinating trash.
Xander
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the Discours de la Methode (1637) René Descartes looks for a metaphysical foundation of all of our sciences. In other words: he wants to discover the roots of the tree of knowledge. To accomplish this, he describes the method via which we can come up with an answer. This method is radical scepticism. His criteria for truth are clear and distinct ideas. In other words, he builds epistemology and metaphysics on mathematics. The looking for an epistemological foundation of all our knowledge was ...more
Brian Risselada
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
An inspiration for me to take on a similar project of grounding all of my beliefs
Erick
I have some amount of ambivalence toward skeptical philosophy in general. It's a tradition that engendered enlightenment errors and, later, influenced atheistic materialism. Descartes wasn't an atheist or a materialist as such, but his system of skeptical doubt is still incredibly silly in my opinion. First of all, a system of doubt is a contradiction in terms; a system must be based on positive and actual constituents; doubt is a negative, not a positive, so it cannot be a foundation for any ...more
Daniella Insalaco
Even though I am not a fan of Descartes, I did enjoy the edition that I read (courtesy of The Focus Philosophical Library) because it contained a thorough introduction, great footnotes as well as an interpretive essay at the end. This is one of the reasons why I am giving it two stars rather than one.

I really disagree with Descartes on a number of levels and frankly I don't want to get into all of that on here because then I would have to divulge my personal beliefs and I don't feel comfortable
...more
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René Descartes, also known as Renatus Cartesius (Latinized form), was a highly influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. 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 ...more

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