Discourse on Method

ISBN: 0872204227
ISBN 13: 9780872204225
By: René Descartes Donald A. Cress

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About this book

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 ease of comparison.

Reader's Thoughts

Abdulrahman Farouk

كتاب رائع في كل شيء، في تقديمه، وترجمته، وبالطبع في النّص القليل الكلمات كبير المعاني. لا أستطيع كتابة المزيد عنه.. لكنني بالتأكيد سأرشحه لكل من سألني يوماً عن "ماذا يقرأ"

sahar salman

فكرة هذا الكتاب هي منهج العقل. ودراسات تشملها سنوات من حياة الفيلسوف رينيه ديكارت عن البحث عن الحقيقة والطريقة المثلى في التفكير وإنشاء كل الحقائق الإنسانية وكشف اللثام عنها بالطريقة التي ينتقيها كل إنسان في أصولية تفكيره. ما أعجبني في ديكارت هو توازنه الفكري، وإختلافه عن بقية الفلاسفة في الفكر وطريقة عرضه لأفكاره التي يحب أن يتأكد من صحتها كما أن إختلاف النسق الفكري عنده لدى الناس لا يمثل بالضرورة صحة أو عدم صواب أرائهم بل هو يعده "إختلاف" في النسق. فالمعرفة اليقينيه هي أكثر أفضلية من اتباع نسق الآخرين في التفكير أو اتباعهم للعادات والتقاليد بلا تكوين فكري خاص بهم . فلا شيء تحت سيطرتنا بشكل تام سوى هذه الأفكار التي تشق طريقها في العقل الإنساني. فالتأمل في الكون أو في فكرة ما بدون نسيان الأساسيات وبترك العادات التي تصيب العقل بالتلف هي الطريقة المثلى في تهذيب العقل وجعله أكثر مرونه في تقبل الأفكار وتصنيفها. المترجم قدم هذا العمل بصفه بارعه في الدقة والوضوح ومقدمته شملت شرحاٰ وافياٰ لفكر ديكارت كما تضمنت حواشي الكتاب مراجع وشروح قد أعد بعضها زائداٰ عن الحاجة إلا أنها بشكل عام مفيدة كقراءة أولية لهذا الفيلسوف. ديكارت شبه عمله بلوحة سمح لجميع الناس من كتاب ونقاد وقراء بنقدها وإطلاق الأحكام عليها وتصنيفها، فهو لا يعتبر عمله منوط بعقل واحد فقط، هو يشارك البقية عقولهم ليجمع به كل رأي يقوم على حديث طريقه الفكري فيعد أكثر تكاملاٰ من ظهوره الأول على هذه الصورة.

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!

Erik 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.

Διόνυσος Ψευδάνωρ

One of the very finest products of the history of philosophy, René Descartes' Discourse on the Method is, in this Focus Philosophical Library edition, translated by the late Richard Kennington. Of special importance in this edition is Kennington's very good interpretive essay, "Descartes' Discourse on Method," which is only elsewhere found in a posthumous collection of his essays, On Modern Origins: Essays in Early Modern Philosophy . My understanding is that this was originally a lecture delivered at the University of Chicago in 1980. Regarding Kennington's ultimate conclusion, however, I can only go part way, at least provisionally, or before greater study. The question he ends on is this: has the "bond between philosophy or science and society been shown to be reasonable?" No, he concludes, for that bond rests on two elements which are, in fact, irreducible. The elements are two themes, the theme of utility and the theme of certainty. Since utility, or science for the sake of power, or for the possession and mastery of nature, is something the certainty of which, as Kennington says, "we are free" to philosophize about independently, we can reject Descartes' project. I agree to a point. Yes, we lack a "categorical obligation" to the modern project. But does that mean that the Cartesian project is unreasonable? I'm disinclined to think so because I doubt that Descartes was unaware of Kennington's discovery. Kennington's essay, despite his many indications of Descartes' dissimulative style of writing and his implicit demand that we modify the theological-political situation that he faced, is silent about that situation when I think it matters most, when we aim to draw the final conclusions about what "we are free" to do regarding his project today. His interpretation seems to suggest that we are free to reject the modern project because of the unreasonableness of Descartes' position, but, it seems to me, that Descartes' position wasn't simply unreasonable because it successfully brought about the needed change in the theological-political situation. Christianity was, after all, dealt a very serious blow. Modern science's appropriation of human charity from the jurisdiction of Christianity reduced Christianity's influence. Without any further explicit indication of the need that Descartes faced and the deliberate benefits to humanity that he brought about, I can only partly endorse Kennington's essay. However, I will note this: Kennington comes from a tradition whose members are careful writers who know how to read very careful writers, and it's not impossible that his silence on Descartes' full motives is telling; so, I will remain open to the possibility that he has a more "charitable" albeit obscure interpretation in mind. If I find grounds for that during future study of this essay, I will append them to this review.Appendage: My original hesitation above about Kennington's interpretive essay resulted from all but the very end of Kennington's final, thirty-first, paragraph. Taking a closer look at the very end revealed to me further grounds for hesitation. Now I'm less inclined to hope for his greater, if somewhat concealed, charity of interpretation. The very ending is this: "Here, in Descartes, science does not know the ultimate, the particles; it does not know the whole. As scientific knowledge, it does not comprehend the human. If reinterpreted within these limits, its knowledge may well be an immense benefaction. But since it knows neither the whole nor the human part, we are free to philosophize independently of Cartesian and modern science." This is more in keeping with the tradition that Kennington comes from. On the other hand, it also seems too easy. Since "knowing the whole" is so probably out of reach, any project that cannot aspire to attain it can simply be dispensed with. The demand for knowledge of the whole is such a high demand that it can serve as an effective skeptical argument for almost anything. But that's too easy, especially as Kennington leaves it, without further elaboration. It still seems to me that Descartes knew these same limitations, and if so, then a better critique would lie in explaining how the Cartesian project, as conceived by Descartes, including its known limitations, is no longer necessary for the times. For that, though, it seems to me that we can turn to Nietzsche. A clarification: my basic, at present, disagreement is this: Kennington's argument about the limitations of Cartesian science are based on limitations that I believe Descartes was aware of. In that case, Kennington's argument against Descartes goes no further than Descartes. The limitations that Kennington reveals are limitations fully revealable at any time, even in Descartes' time. The most important limitations, then, are not with Descartes, but with history, i.e., there are even better limitations on which one could disagree with Cartesian science. Something like that, at least for now.

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?

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.

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?

Alex

Cogito Ergo Sum......more correctly, " Je pense donc je suis" ... I think, therefore, I am.Anyways, Descartes, ladies and gentlemen... I've been trying to read some more basic philosophy, and this one is one of my favorites. I like Descartes' method (yes, pun intended) in discovering and discerning truth. Seems to align with my worldview-- question everything, but build on what you know and can reason.Anyway, the reading was quite thick. It was interesting to read in the last section how he delayed publication because of the religious and social pressure of the rennaissance.I really admire descartes. A true rennaissance man (again, pun very much intended) -- a thinker, mathematician, physicist, dabbling in medicine and anything else that interested him.

Bugenhagen

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 evidently so.III. Descartes outlines his provisional moral code that he used during his search, saying that if one wishes to rebuild their house, they must have alternate accommodation while doing so.IV. From his first unquestionable principle, 'I think, therefore I am', Descartes moves on to his proof for the existence of God.V. Largely a description of a treatise he never published, and discussion of the difference between human and animals souls. This part is generally of less interest, not written with such clarity and wit.VI. Here, he describes why that treatise was never published, his thoughts on experimentation, and his plans for future publications. This suffers from the same issues as part five. The real meat of the Discourse is to be found in parts one through four.

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.

Lavinia

I have to admit that I was very biased when I've started to read this. I was somehow relating it to Kant's Criticism of the Pure Reason, which was a traumatizing reading experience. Instead I found myself in front of a reasonable man with reasonable ideas. Even if I've read it in old French, which did not ease things. That is if we discard the proof of God's existence - but that relates to my inner beliefs, such as 'God cannot be demonstrated'. This aside, I enjoyed this writting, even if I was annoyed from time to time by the whining tendency. I particularly liked the last part, which I read as 'anyhow nobody will understand what I'm talking about, so why should I waste my time on you? Besides, I dont't want to give you the opportunity to put words in my mouth'. I guess it could have been pure fear of church though...

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].

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 -

Ergün 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.

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