Rene Descartes did major research in optics, geometry, astronomy and physiology, although he published nothing until he was over forty. The Discourse forms the preface to his first collection of scientific papers, sketching in a new method based on hypothesis and deduction which was soon to replace techniques derived from Aristotle. The age of Newton marks one of the great turning points in intellectual history; Descartes has a key place at its very heart.
"It is not enough to have a good mind; it is more important to use it well"
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 ideassuch as the disparity between our perceptions and the realities that cause themhave been highly influential in the development of modern philosophy.This edition sets the Discourse on Method in the wider context of Descartes work, with the Rules for Guiding Ones Intelligence in Searching for the Truth (1628), extracts from The World (1633) and selected letters from 1636-9. A companion volume, Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings, is also published in Penguin Classics.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650), French philosopher and mathematician, is generally regarded as the founder of modern philosophy.
Desmond Clarke is professor of philosophy at Unviersity College, Cork.
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