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 trying to bum a living (or a retirement) off of me; the whole thing was just so...French. On the plus side: in places he achieves a jagged informality that's very intimate (especially for 1637); and the architecture of his sentences is at times impressive. Sounded more like 18th century (English anyway) than early 17th.Puji Lestari
Discourse On Method merupakan karyanya yang paling terkenal, ditulis dalam bahasa Perancis dan di dalamnya berisi tiga esai. Buku ini menceritakan tentang penemuan-penemuannya yang diperoleh melalui metode ciptaannya sendiri, misalnya mengenai optik, meteorologi, dan geometri. Pola pikir Descartes ini cukup unik. Ia meneliti pendapat-pendapat yang keliru, padahal sudah dipercaya oleh khalayak. Filosofinya dimulai dari keraguan, ia meragukan apa saja, bahkan yang dikatakan oleh gurunya sekalipun. Menurutnya, untuk mencari kebenaran sejati haruslah dimulai dengan langkah yang polos dan jernih, yaitu meragukan segalanya. Bagi saya, bagian paling menarik dari buku ini adalah bagaimana Descartes mendapatkan keyakinan tentang adanya Tuhan (ia sebut Allah). Berawal dari keraguan akan ketidaksempurnaan dirinya, Descartes mencari tau bagaimana dia bisa berpikir lebih sempurna daripada dirinya. Dan secara gamblang dia menyimpulkan bahwa ada sesuatu yang secara kodrat memang lebih sempurna karena mustahil apabila sesuatu yang lebih sempurna itu berasal dari ketiadaan. “…, yakni bahwa gagasan tentang sesuatu yang lebih sempurna itu diletakkan dalam diri saya oleh kodrat lain yang benar-benar lebih sempurna daripada saya, dan yang memiliki segala kesempurnaan yang beberapa di antaranya dapat saya pahami, atau dengan satu kata: Allah.”Descartes percaya adanya Tuhan, ia menganggap dirinya seorang Katolik patuh, namun gereja Katolik justru tidak menyukai pandangan-pandangannya. Gereja Katolik menyatakan bahwa karya-karya Descartes terlarang untuk dibaca. Menurut artikel yang ditulis oleh Michael H. Hart (1978), ada lima ide Descartes yang berpengaruh penting terhadap jalan pikiran Eropa yaitu: pandangan mekanisnya mengenai alam semesta, sikapnya yang positif terhadap penjajagan ilmiah, tekanan yang diletakkannya pada penggunaan matematika dalam ilmu pengetahuan, pembelaannya terhadap dasar awal sikap skeptis, dan penitikberatan perhatian terhadap epistemologi. Ah, bahasa filsafat memang selalu susah saya pahami. Tapi saya semakin tertarik dan tertarik dengan pemikiran Descartes manakala membaca bagian pemikirannya tentang Tuhan dengan berlandaskan pada apa yang nampak pada dunia dan sekitarnya, juga keberadaan dirinya. Bukankah ini senada dengan urusan kita dalam mengenal Allah? “Iqra!” Bacalah!Setiap muslim diwajibkan ma’rifatullah, mengenal Allah dengan cara “membaca” ayat-ayat qauliyah dan kauniyah-Nya. Descartes aja bisa membaca ayat kauniyah-Nya, bagaimana dengan kita?Rohan Ramakrishna
Cogito Ergo Sum. The book that heralded the modern age. Descartes' explanation of his scientific method kick-started the "Age of Reason" and was responsible for the break between science and philosophy. As a direct result of his method, science came to be an organized international peer-reviewed enterprise as we know it today.Ahmed Azimov
لابد لنا من الوقوف هنا لننظر متأملين الى احدى مكتسبات الانسانيه هنا مرحلة انعطاف هامه في تاريخ الهوموسابيانز والعلوم الانسانيه المكتسبه تماما حالها كحال منازعة كوبرينيكوس لافكار بطليموس القائله بمركزية الارض والتي روّج لها جاليلو لاحقا، وماديّة نيوتن، وتطوّر داروين، ونسبية اينشتين، وووو - رضي الله عنهم أجمعين -يوم أن صُودر الكثير من العظمة المزعومة للانسان البدائي الذي كان يرى نفسه وكوكبه مركزا للأجرام السماويه حيث يدورون خضوعا له بينما هو يبقى ثابتا !! حتى بدى لنا أننا مجرد أجرام صغيره حقيره لاحقاالكوجيتو الديكارتي المشهور " أنا أفكر إذن إنا موجود " حيث أنك جوهرٌ كلّ ماهيته أو طبيعته ليس إلا أن يفكر بالإضافة الى عرض موجز لتجربة الانسان الروحية والحديث عن مذهبه الشكي الذي كانت له أصداء أفلاطونيه سابقا، وكذا آمن به الشيخ الأكبر محيي الدين، حتى صاغه ديكارت بإحكام، فانطلق منه طه حسين أدبيا في مصنف " الشعر الجاهلي " - على سبيل المثال عربيا -Safdar Sikandar
This brief book is divided into six parts. In the third part , Descartes tells us why he thinks that 'i think hence i am'.I believe I am only a little dumber than Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, and I may have to read this book again!Mel Vincent
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, thoughts, epiphanies and the arguments that go about him while changing scenes, places and meeting other people as well.It talks how the soul, whether that of a human or of a creature is distinct from either one and that the soul is not a part of the body and is therefore not subjected to the mortalities of the flesh, hence the immortality of the soul. He then states that dreams and conscious thoughts are not as distinct as previously thought the only this is that these are partly of truths for one could not have arrived at that thought if that did not exist in the first place and lastly, he talks about and proves the existence of God which is phenomenal and how he connects it with the other arguments of this book.And lastly, the thing that I love about this book is that it gives off a calming effect while you read it and I've come to realize and empathize that Rene Descartes is truly humble and I admire a great person who keeps his feet on the ground even if the world constantly tells hims of his genius and greatness.Ľuboš
Though I cannot deny the heavy influence Descartes' method had on the development of the modern period science, that it - so to speak - paved the way for the science, I cannot overlook some of the rather grievous ramifications it had on all of our understanding of the world. One of them is the strengthening of the notion of privileged position of humans above all other beings (also explicitly explained in Part V). Also the unshakable faith in man's ability to discover truths about the world using just our mind (and the right method) and that these are the only real and reliable truths that we may discover. Or the whole notion of human psyche as a non-material entity outside and above the physical world. Or the belief that the world is quantifiable and that that's the right way how to learn anything about it. All of these are, in my opinion, very questionable and many thinkers have challenged them since then (i.e. the whole phenomenology school). Of course, I cannot blame Descartes for all these (and other) problematic traits of our understanding of the world and I indeed do not. It's a result of some three and a half hundred years of advancement and a lot of other thinkers influenced it, some of them maybe even more than him. So, apart from my personal objections, what was this book like?Well, it's hard to judge such historical work - should I judge it in the context of its period, or from a contemporary viewpoint? I will probably just name a few traits that hit me between the eyes. First, I couldn't stand Descartes' arrogance with which he presented his method as the only one that can be used to achieve reliable truths. Yes, he tried to sound humble, but it seemed to me rather as a pose than as a heartfelt humility. Also, it's kind of funny to read some of his deductions of 'truths' about God's existence or the works of the circulatory system. Maybe his method is not so foolproof. We may say that it's because he used it in the wrong way or started from wrong assumptions. But isn't even the contemporary science still very prone to such errors? On the other hand, his many-years-long struggle to refine his judgement and beliefs is remarkable (honestly, how many of us would be able to do it?). But it sometimes felt like reading some new-age guru: "Hey, look at me, I underwent a radical transformation of my thoughts and beliefs in the last several years. I purged myself from all learned or assumed truths and in the void of utter doubt, I discovered the profound truth of my existence: Cogito, ergo sum!". And he gained a large following indeed.Sorry for the sarcasm. These are just my personal thoughts and feelings about the book. I acknowledge its importance (and Descartes' in general) for modern thought. I'm just not too impressed by it.Katie Ozorkiewicz
I found it a rather interesting thought experiment, to try and wipe away everything we know and re-build the foundation of our existence is a rather large undertaking, especially when most people of our time must also focus on the daily grind required to pay for mortgages/rent, food, clothes, etc. I had read this a couple of times before, but it makes more sense now that I'm a few years older. I'd recommend it to anyone, it's a quick read and it provokes different thoughts at different periods in one's life [as most good writing does].Daniel
Ever since a student of mine turned out to be right that the famous 'cogito ergo sum' was originally rendered in French, I have been meaning to get my language skills up to the task of reading this work as Descartes wrote it. I made my through and found it profitable, but I will say that the latter half involved some skimming and some letting-it-wash-over-me. There is a big chunk on his theory of circulation of blood - not exactly fascinating for the 21st century man. And the last part appears to be a lengthy explanation of why he chose not to publish a lot of his physics -- I confess I was doing a lot of the wash-over at this point. I think I'll have to learn some more French and come back to it, because I think there were some good points in there, too. I did pick up why he wrote it in French: he wanted people to come at his views using 'pure reason' and not with prejudices for only 'old books' (written in Latin).Cadfan
Fascinating book. Even though this book is old now you can still follow Descartes remarkable clarity of thought. Descartes was truly a great thinker in that he aimed in getting the maximum amount of clarity in his work that he could. This book can be slightly confusing at times due to the views of those times and the different sentence structuring but it is generally quite intelligible what Descartes is trying to say. Descartes breaks down the human experience to its very basics, and in doing so he improves our own thinking patterns as we realise what we can truly assert to be true and what we cannot.I recommend this book for any person who wants a glimpse of how to think lucidly and clearly with deliberate decision. However, I do not recommend this book for someone who is afraid of doubt, as this book will have you doubting literally everything and everyone! Lol.5/5Erik Graff
Despite the title, this editions contains more than the Discourse, the other selections being given in the description appended. I read this volume to supplement the Descartes readings for a course entitled "History of Classical Modern Philosophy" taken at Loyola University Chicago during the first semester of 1980/81.Timothy Matias
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 think, therefore I am”), he abandons his doubting methodology almost entirely, the remainder of the book being devoted to religion, morality, the intellectual superiority of men, Aristotelian thought, a lengthy explanation of his understanding of the human heart, and finally, a defense of his views and his reasons for promulgating them. The latter sections, when accounted together with the general apologetic tone of this work, suggests that a more fitting title would have been “Discourse on and Defense of the Method”, with the latter being the most disappointing aspect of his work.The first half of the book, divided into the first three sections, is comprised of Descartes’ intellectual background and the origins of his method, as well as the range of his education and experiences abroad. In these sections, he stresses the importance of a search for truth being elegant, providing several analogies for this, including: the aesthetic superiority of newer buildings built by one architect, over older buildings which have been maintained, remodeled, and “improved” by many different architects progressively less familiar with the original architect’s purpose;how while it more convenient to take the long winding path of a mountain, which is smooth and well-traveled, the most certain path to “truth” must necessarily be straight, though it is comparably untraveled, rocky, and passing through arduous heights and perilous precipitices; the importance of one who is lost in the forest, to stay to one side of a forest, as it is better to come out of the forest on the wrong end, than to perpetually wander in indecision, never coming out of the forest. Accordingly, he endeavors to, once he discovers the method by which to derive truths immune to doubt (dubbed by modern philosophy as the “doubting methodology”), be resolved in its application to the improvement of himself, and the acquisition of new knowledge. This may also explain his authoritative (though paradoxically humble) approach in the deriving of “truths” from his foundational axiom that his ability to think therefore he exists. (I’ll explain some of the negative impacts this had on the accuracy of his works, later on in the review).To doubt all that could be doubted, he first created a hypothetical conjecture by which everything that he knew would become uncertain, which is known today as the “dreaming conjecture”: If the waking world was really just a dream, then everything he saw could be a deception, much in the same way everything we see while dreaming is not happening in reality. It is here that he establishes that even if he were dreaming, and was thus compelled to doubt the truth of everything he saw, felt, imagined, or thought in reality, he still could not deny the fact that his doubts constituted thought, and as there needed to be a doubter to doubt something, his thoughts thereby confirmed his existence. This is the most brilliant part of “Discourse on the Method”, but unfortunately this is also where the brilliance ends.After determining that his thoughts confirm his existence (which would make him, at that point, effectively a solipsist, since the only knowledge he held with certainty was the existence of his own mind), Descartes confidently draws upon much of the knowledge that he had previously already doubted, including such axioms as the existence of perfection, the verification of ideas by virtue of being clearly known (basically, the perceived reliability of intuition), the notion that perfection and imperfection cannot coexist, the certainty that something cannot come from nothing, nor a lesser perfection come from a greater perfection. Building on these assumptions, which Descartes supposedly derived from his certainty of existence, he “proves” the absolute existence of God, that the attributes Descartes believed him to possess, were doubtlessly possessed by God, and the ones which Descartes was certain were contrary to God, he did not possess. This dramatic shift from rigid skepticism to a religiously and philosophically biased authoritarianism, greatly undermines the validity of Descarte’s “Discourse on the Method”.The ludicrousness of his “logic” can be plainly summarized as follows:1. To find the truth, we must doubt everything that can be doubted, until we find a truth so pure that it is immune to skepticism.2. To doubt everything that can be doubted, the notion that reality might well be a dream, is introduced. Everything we know could thus be a figment of our imagination, the deception created by mental delusion.3. We confirm that even if we doubt all else, the fact we can doubt confirms that we can think, which further confirms that there is a thinker, proving that even for a complete cynic, existence is undeniable, and furthermore, is confirmed by attempts to doubt it.(So far so good, but Descartes’ adherence to reason ends here)4. Everything I clearly know to be true is true indeed5. I know that perfection must exist, because how could the thought have been impressed upon me unless there were a greater perfection beyond myself6. This imperfection could not have come from nothing (that would be absurd), and neither could I be more perfect from that whence I came (which would be more absurd)7. Since I must have necessarily come from this greater perfection, my existence (which I have confirmed already) must have come from God8. Thus God existsDescartes then proceeds to determine whether God has deceived his senses to make reality different from what it is, and determines that:1. Since God is perfect, he cannot contain anything that is imperfect2. Thus anything imperfect, including deception, cannot come from GodAccordingly, Descartes can confidently and reliably determine what is real, and what is not, and what is good, and what is bad, by measuring them against God- that is, what Descartes deemed to be imperfect, comes from chaos, and what is perfect, must necessarily have its origin on God.To agree with Descartes’ conclusions, I would argue that one must completely disregard the very method the first half of this discourse is about, and assume all of his axioms as somehow, his plethora of axioms are supported by his confirmation that thought proves existence. If anyone can connect the dots for me on this, I would love to hear their thoughts, but so far as I can tell, Descartes inadvertently let his religious beliefs, and (later on, which I’ll get to) his philosophical background, interfere with objectivity of thought, these biases preventing him from accurately applying the central axiom upon which his entire doubting methodology was founded. This kind of backwards thinking, the primary weakness of not only Descartes’ thought, but of the rationalism movement as a whole, took the rest of his “Discourse on the Method” on an intellectual tangent, producing what is rationally a vastly inferior second half as a sequel to the first.After proving God’s existence, that reality is what it appears to be, and (apparently, though such a proof is not even mentioned!) confirming the existence of the human soul, Descartes demonstrates how his knowledge of God both confirms and clarifies his knowledge of geometry and the sciences, what he perceives with the senses, and a plethora of other “truths” which he said remained yet unpublished, so as to prevent controversy from interfering with his work. He further ventured that, even if other realities were to be created by God, that all of them would be just as true, and follow the same laws of natures, since they all have their origin in God. It’s clear at this point that Descartes had abandoned his method entirely in favor of religious dogma and metaphysical presumptions that he artificially made to conform to his “method”, despite any actual reasoning or evidence to support such an association.Here “the method” is removed from discourse entirely, as the humble Descartes boasts at length about his new-found “knowledge” and the results of his experiments (most of which are already disproven through modern scientific discoveries, and little more than an application of the “science” of Aristotle, Descartes’ primary philosophical influence, and the basis for most of the second half of this discourse). He describes his discoveries of the interactions of the four elements which, in Descarte’s time, were believed to compose everything: earth, fire, air, water) and the fifth element aether, which is implied in his analyses of light and the soul.The tangent continues even farther from the method with his exposition of animal organs, how they are similar to human organs, but that whereas humans also have vegetative and sensitive souls, they also possess that which no brute (animal/non-human, and quite possibly including Africans, whom Descartes implied in the beginning of the treatise are brutes) could possess- the rational soul, which enables humans to reason, and to communicate intelligibly through language, and adapt themselves to understand and be understood, and which even the most intellectually mediocre of humans can surpass the most intelligent of animals in proficiency. Of course, modern empirical science would have disproved Descarte’s claims in this regard too. If only to further demonstrate his own ignorance, he continued on to note that no machine, whether organic or mechanical, could replicate human intelligence convincingly, which of course is handily debunked by the ever-innovative modern scientific field of artificial intelligence.Descartes has thus made a great many assumptions, a far leap from doubting everything besides his ability to think, and by virtue of that, his own existence. Contrary to the original intent, Descartes has made his way to the edge of the forest, or to draw upon Plato’s allegory, to the mouth of the cave, only to dive back inside in search of deeper “truth” than he could find in the mere assurance of his own existence. And contrary to his maxim of striving for elegance, even at the cost of intellectual hardship and existential peril, he abandoned his “Occam’s Razor” and created theories building upon a myriad of assumptions, abandoning the necessity of undoubtable axioms, in favor of religion, intuition, Aristotelian thought, and personal bias. So much for objectivity!After this point, he gives a long winding explanation of the interworkings of the heart and the flow of blood, through the lens of the aforementioned 5-element medieval conception of nature and biology. Basically, his explanations are sound, but insufficiently vague to establish his credibility as a master of anatomy, and unacceptably tainted by simplistic and distorted understandings of chemistry and elemental structure. He then skims over how he theorizes the senses manifest perception, how our body induces the sleeping and waking states, etc. With each page of Descartes’ “discourse”, the once humble Descartes transforms himself into a deluded, authoritative know-it-all, and this treatise became more difficult to read with every paragraph, as the originally meaningful discourse discards the central focus in favor of fashioning itself a medieval textbook, only stretched over every single topic of the sciences, and without much relation between them. “In fine”, [the term used in the English translation to mean 'in summary'], the second half of this treatise successfully warps it into a collection of tangential philosophical speculations misrepresented as demonstrated facts.The final section has little to be said about, except that it is half-apologetic, and half self-promotion. This sort of thing is ordinarily found in the preface or the introduction to a work, or some other sort of author’s note, but Descartes ended up placing it at the end of the book, for God knows what reason. He explains how he didn’t want to release the treatises (mainly, the other ones, which are continually aluded to in this one), but felt compelled to so as to not be thought ill of for refraining from doing so. He explains how even though he wishes to have his work undisturbed, and his repose uninterrupted, that he felt the need to release the work first to preserve his reputation (which had grown despite his efforts to the contrary), and second to ensure that a greater understanding and application of his work could be achieved than if it were published post-mortem. He then goes on to promote the importance of his work being studied and analyzed properly, and of people replying to the discourse via his publisher so as to improve it. All of these things, while perhaps essential for an author to convey to his readership, are hardly the kind of thing to be devoted a section to, but at this point I’ve already given up on finding any logic to Descartes’ “Discourse on the Method”, which disappeared soon after the third section of this treatise was completed.Regardless of my misgivings regarding the logic of this discourse, and the due-noted unfaithfulness to the axioms and maxims his work was founded on, Descarte’s authoritative approach to “truth”, and the scientific and mathematical discoveries he derived from it, have indeed benefited mankind, so ultimately, his purpose in writing this work, and the concerning treatises, was fulfilled. On one hand, I consider him the Aristotle of the 17th century, creating a philosophical movement that would impede the progress of the fields of philosophy and science for decades, even centuries. On the other hand, his somewhat extremist, biased, authoritative approach to philosophy and the sciences led him to conceive of knowledge far beyond the scope of the sciences of the time. Both perspectives are reminiscent of Sigmund Freud, the physicist-philosopher who imagined a whole system of psychoanalysis and built the foundations of modern psychology, but is now widely criticized for the many speculative ideas he promoted as fact (now mostly disproven by modern psychology and psychiatry), particularly regarding human motivation and sexuality, and child development. In the same way, Descartes’ ideas, while many (or most, I might venture) were factually wrong, and often the opposite of the truth, helped create a scientific and philosophical revolution, contributing greatly to the present knowledge of these respective fields. In light of these contributions, it’s no wonder he is widely considered the founder of modern philosophy, despite his rational shortcomings.Ali Reda
أولاً إنما مطلوبي العلم بحقائق الأمور ، فلا بُد من طلب حقيقة العلم ما هي؟ فظهر لي أن العلم اليقيني هو الذي ينكشف فيه المعلوم انكشافاً لا يبقى معه ريب ، ولا يقارنه إمكان الغلط والوهم ، ولا يتسع القلب لتقدير ذلك ؛ بل الأمان من الخطأ ينبغي أن يكون مقارناً لليقين مقارنة لو تحدى بإظهار بطلانه مثلاً من يقلب الحجر ذهباً والعصا ثعباناً ، لم يورث ذلك شكاً وإنكاراً ؛ فإني إذا علمت أن العشرة أكثر من الثلاثة ، فلو قال لي قائل: لا ، بل الثلاثة أكثر [ من العشرة ] بدليل أني أقلب هذه العصا ثعباناً ، وقلبها ، وشاهدت ذلك منه ، لم أشك بسببه في معرفتي ، ولم يحصل لي منه إلا التعجب من كيفية قدرته عليه! فأما الشك فيما علمته ، فلا. ثم علمت أن كل ما لا أعلمه على هذا الوجه ولا أتيقنه هذا النوع من اليقين ، فهو علم لا ثقة به ولا أمان معه ، وكل علم لا أمان معه ، فليس بعلم يقيني.~ الغزالى - المنقذ من الضلالThe first was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgment than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt. ~ René Descartes, Discourse on MethodErgün Nar
The interesting thing is that I already found myself in his method. If the world is grey for you and searching for a light, want to disrupt the fog of your life, then read this book, it will help you technically in so many ways.David S. T.
At first I wasn't going to read this one, but when I started to read Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes referred to this several times, so I decided to quickly read it. Instead of doing the smart thing and getting a better translation, I found and read a public domain one. In hind sight after reading the superior Hackett version translated by Cress, it would have been better to just wait for that one (or pay the small price). As for the Discourse, it's pretty interesting, Descartes decides to throw way everything he's learned and approach everything as geometric proofs where he builds on top of what he can completely infer. At first he rejects all senses and perceptions because they could be an illusion, the only thing he knows is, “I think therefore I am” (or if you read the Cottingham version, 'I am thinking therefore I exist'). From this he bases everything. He later goes to present his own modified version of the ontological argument, basically he thinks of something more perfect than himself, since he knows there is something more perfect then this, then eventually the most perfect thing is God. I'm sure many theists will agree with him that perhaps God is the only other thing they know is true, but I'm not sure how the thought of a most perfect being is more apparent than everything he experiences around him. I realize that his could be in illusion, but the thought of a most perfect being is more concrete? If someone doesn't perceive of this most perfect being instead assumes that everything is partially flawed does god cease to exist?