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Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences (French : Discours de la Méthode Pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la vérité dans les sciences) is a philosophical and autobiographical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. It is best known as the source of the famous quotation "Je pense, donc je suis" (English: "I think, therefore I am", or "I am thinking, therefore I exist"), which occurs in Part IV of the work. A similar argument, without this precise wording, is found in Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), and a Latin version of the same statement Cogito, ergo sum is found in Principles of Philosophy (1644).
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?
René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–49) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. He is generally considered one of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age.
Discourse on the Method is one of the most influential works in the history of modern philosophy, and important to the development of natural sciences.In this work, Descartes tackles the problem of skepticism, which had previously been studied by Sextus Empiricus, Al-Ghazali and Michel de Montaigne. Descartes modified it to account for a truth he found to be incontrovertible. Descartes started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so as to assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of any preconceived notions.
Skepticism or scepticism is generally any questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief. It is often directed at domains, such as the supernatural, morality, religion, or knowledge. Formally, skepticism as a topic occurs in the context of philosophy, particularly epistemology, although it can be applied to any topic such as politics, religion, and pseudoscience.
Sextus Empiricus, was a physician and philosopher, who likely lived in Alexandria, Rome, or Athens. His philosophical work is the most complete surviving account of ancient Greek and Roman Pyrrhonism.
Al-Ghazali was one of the most prominent and influential philosophers, theologians, jurists, and mystics of Sunni Islam. He was of Persian origin.
The book was originally published in Leiden, in the Netherlands. Later, it was translated into Latin and published in 1656 in Amsterdam. The book was intended as an introduction to three works: Dioptrique , Météores and Géométrie. La Géométrie contains Descartes's initial concepts that later developed into the Cartesian coordinate system. The text was written and published in French rather than Latin, the latter being the language in which most philosophical and scientific texts were written and published at that time. Most of Descartes' other works were written in Latin.
Leiden is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. The municipality of Leiden had a population of 123,856 in August 2017, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with 206,647 inhabitants. The Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) further includes Katwijk in the agglomeration which makes the total population of the Leiden urban agglomeration 270,879, and in the larger Leiden urban area also Teylingen, Noordwijk, and Noordwijkerhout are included with in total 348,868 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Oude Rijn, at a distance of some 20 kilometres from The Hague to its south and some 40 km (25 mi) from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.
Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. Its status as the capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands, although it is not the seat of the government, which is The Hague. Amsterdam has a population of 851,373 within the city proper, 1,351,587 in the urban area and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country but is not its capital, which is Haarlem. The metropolitan area comprises much of the northern part of the Randstad, one of the larger conurbations in Europe, with a population of approximately 8 million.
"La dioptrique", is a short treatise published in 1637 included in one of the Essays written with Discourse on the Method by Rene Descartes. In this essay Descartes uses various models to understand the properties of light. This essay is known as Descartes' greatest contribution to optics, as it is the first publication of the Law of Refraction.
Together with Meditations on First Philosophy, Principles of Philosophy and Rules for the Direction of the Mind , it forms the base of the epistemology known as Cartesianism.
In 1628 or a few years earlier, René Descartes began work on an unfinished treatise regarding the proper method for scientific and philosophical thinking entitled Regulae ad directionem ingenii, or Rules for the Direction of the Mind. This work outlined the basis for his later work on complex problems of mathematics, science, and philosophy. 36 rules were planned in total, although only 21 were actually written. This work was not published during the author's lifetime. A Dutch translation appeared in 1684, and the first Latin edition in 1701.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.
Cartesianism is the philosophical and scientific system of René Descartes and its subsequent development by other seventeenth century thinkers, most notably Nicolas Malebranche and Baruch Spinoza. Descartes is often regarded as the first thinker to emphasize the use of reason to develop the natural sciences. For him, the philosophy was a thinking system that embodied all knowledge, and expressed it in this way:
The book is divided into six parts, described in the author's preface as
Descartes begins by allowing himself some wit:
Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess.
A similar observation can be found in Hobbes: "But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of anything than that every man is contented with his share", [ relevant? ] but also in Montaigne, whose formulation indicates that it was a common place at the time: "Tis commonly said that the justest portion Nature has given us of her favors is that of sense; for there is no one who is not contented with his share." Descartes continues with a warning:
For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it. The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it.
Descartes describes his disappointment with his education: "as soon as I had finished the entire course of study... I found myself involved in so many doubts and errors, that I was convinced I had advanced no farther... than the discovery at every turn of my own ignorance." He notes his special delight with mathematics, and contrasts its strong foundations to "the disquisitions of the ancient moralists [which are] towering and magnificent palaces with no better foundation than sand and mud".
Descartes was in Germany, attracted thither by the wars in that country, and describes his intent by a "building metaphor". He observes that buildings, cities or nations that have been planned by a single hand are more elegant and commodious than those that have grown organically. He resolves not to build on old foundations, or to lean upon principles which, he had taken on faith in his youth. Descartes seeks to ascertain the true method by which to arrive at the knowledge of whatever lay within the compass of his powers; he presents four precepts:
The 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.
The second, to divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution.
The third, to conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little, and, as it were, step by step, to the knowledge of the more complex; assigning in thought a certain order even to those objects which in their own nature do not stand in a relation of antecedence and sequence.
And the last, in every case to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing was omitted.
Descartes uses the analogy of rebuilding a house from secure foundations, and extends the analogy to the idea of needing a temporary abode while his own house is being rebuilt. The following three maxims were adopted by Descartes so that he could effectively function in the "real world" while experimenting with his method of radical doubt. They formed a rudimentary belief system from which to act before he developed a new system based on the truths he discovered using his method:
- The first was to obey the laws and customs of my country, adhering firmly to the faith in which, by the grace of God, I had been educated from my childhood and regulating my conduct in every other matter according to the most moderate opinions, and the farthest removed from extremes, which should happen to be adopted in practice with general consent of the most judicious of those among whom I might be living.
- Be as firm and resolute in my actions as I was able.
- Endeavor always to conquer myself rather than fortune, and change my desires rather than the order of the world, and in general, accustom myself to the persuasion that, except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power; so that when we have done our best in things external to us, our ill-success cannot possibly be failure on our part.
Applying the method to itself, Descartes challenges his own reasoning and reason itself. But Descartes believes three things are not susceptible to doubt and the three support each other to form a stable foundation for the method. He cannot doubt that something has to be there to do the doubting (I think, therefore I am). The method of doubt cannot doubt reason as it is based on reason itself. By reason there exists a God, and God is the guarantor that reason is not misguided. Descartes supplies three different proofs for the existence of God, including what is now referred to as the ontological proof of the existence of God.
Here he describes how in other writings he discusses the idea of laws of nature, of the sun and stars, the idea of the moon being the cause of ebb and flow, on gravitation, and going on to discuss light and fire.
Describing his work on light, he states that he
expounded at considerable length what the nature of that light must be which is found in the sun and the stars, and how thence in an instant of time it traverses the immense spaces of the heavens.
His work on such physico-mechanical laws is, however, projected into a "new world." A theoretical place God created "somewhere in the imaginary spaces [with] matter sufficient to compose . . . [a "new world" in which He] . . . agitate[d] variously and confusedly the different parts of this matter, so that there resulted a chaos as disordered as the poets ever feigned, and after that did nothing more than lend his ordinary concurrence to nature, and allow her to act in accordance with the laws which he had established." He does this "to express my judgment regarding . . . [his subjects] with greater freedom, without being necessitated to adopt or refute the opinions of the learned." Descartes goes on to say that he "was not, however, disposed, from these circumstances, to conclude that this world had been created in the manner I described; for it is much more likely that God made it at the first such as it was to be." Despite this admission, it seems that Descartes' project for understanding the world was that of re-creating creation—a cosmological project which aimed, through Descartes' particular brand of experimental method, to show not merely the possibility of such a system, but to suggest that this way of looking at the world—one with (as Descartes saw it) no assumptions about God or nature—provided the only basis upon which he could see knowledge progressing (as he states in Book II). Thus, in Descartes' work, we can see some of the fundamental assumptions of modern cosmology in evidence—the project of examing the historical construction of the universe through a set of quantitative laws describing interactions which would allow the ordered present to be constructed from a chaotic past.
He goes on to the motion of the blood in the heart and arteries, endorsing the findings of "a physician of England" about the circulation of blood, referring to William Harvey and his work De motu cordis in a marginal note. 51 But then he disagrees strongly about the function of the heart as a pump, ascribing the motive power of the circulation to heat rather than muscular contraction. He describes that these motions seem to be totally independent of what we think, and concludes that our bodies are separate from our souls.:
He does not seem to distinguish between mind, spirit and soul, which are identified as our faculty for rational thinking. Hence the term "I think, therefore I am." All three of these words (particularly "mind" and "soul") can be identified by the single French term "âme."
Descartes begins by noting, without directly referring to it, the recent trial of Galileo for heresy and the condemnation of heliocentrism; he explains that for these reasons he has been slow to publish.
I remarked, moreover, with respect to experiments, that they become always more necessary the more one is advanced in knowledge; for, at the commencement, it is better to make use only of what is spontaneously presented to our senses.
First, I have essayed to find in general the principles, or first causes of all that is or can be in the world.
Secure on these foundation stones, Descartes shows the practical application of "the Method" in Mathematics and the Science.
The most important influence, however, was the first precept, which states, in Descartes words, "never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such." This method of pro-foundational skepticism is considered to be the start of modern philosophy.
Cogito, ergo sum is a Latin philosophical proposition by René Descartes usually translated into English as "I think, therefore I am". The phrase originally appeared in French as je pense, donc je suis in his Discourse on the Method, so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed. It appeared in Latin in his later Principles of Philosophy. As Descartes explained, "we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt...." A fuller version, articulated by Antoine Léonard Thomas, aptly captures Descartes's intent: dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum. The concept is also sometimes known as the cogito.
In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification". More formally, rationalism is defined as a methodology or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive".
La Géométrie was published in 1637 as an appendix to Discours de la méthode, written by René Descartes. In the Discourse, he presents his method for obtaining clarity on any subject. La Géométrie and two other appendices, also by Descartes, La Dioptrique (Optics) and Les Météores (Meteorology), were published with the Discourse to give examples of the kinds of successes he had achieved following his method.
Simulated reality is the hypothesis that reality could be simulated—for example by quantum computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from "true" reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from "true" reality. There has been much debate over this topic, ranging from philosophical discourse to practical applications in computing.
Meditations on First Philosophy in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated is a philosophical treatise by René Descartes first published in Latin in 1641. The French translation was published in 1647 as Méditations Métaphysiques. The title may contain a misreading by the printer, mistaking animae immortalitas for animae immaterialitas, as suspected by A. Baillet.
The Critique of Pure Reason is a 1781 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in which the author seeks to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. A heavily-revised second edition was published in 1787. Also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition, Kant explains that by a "critique of pure reason" he means not "a critique of books and systems, but of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience" and that he aims to reach a decision about "the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics". The First Critique is often viewed as culminating several centuries of early-modern philosophy, and inaugurating modern philosophy.
The evil demon, also known as malicious demon and evil genius, is a concept in Cartesian philosophy. In the first of his 1641 Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes imagines that an evil demon, of "utmost power and cunning has employed all his energies in order to deceive me." This evil demon is imagined to present a complete illusion of an external world, so that Descartes can say, "I shall think that the sky, the air, the earth, colours, shapes, sounds and all external things are merely the delusions of dreams which he has devised to ensnare my judgement. I shall consider myself as not having hands or eyes, or flesh, or blood or senses, but as falsely believing that I have all these things."
The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" was coined by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l'homme et l'origine du mal. The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz's theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil.
The Cartesian circle is a potential mistake in reasoning attributed to René Descartes.
Zera Yacob was a seventeenth-century Ethiopian philosopher from Tigray. His 1667 treatise, known in the original Ge'ez language as the Hatata (Inquiry), has often been compared by a handful of non-traditional scholars to René Descartes' Discours de la méthode (1637). His writing came at a period when African philosophical literature was significantly oral in character. He believed in following one's natural reasoning instead of believing what one is told by others.
The trademark argument is an a priori argument for the existence of God developed by French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes.
In the treatise Passions of the Soul, the last of Descartes' published work, completed in 1649 and dedicated to Queen Christina of Sweden, the author contributes to a long tradition of theorizing "the passions". The passions were experiences now commonly called emotions in the modern period, and had been a subject of debate among natural philosophers since the time of Plato.
Hatata is a 1667 ethical philosophical treatise by the Abyssinian philosopher Zera Yacob, written at the request of his patron's son Walda Heywat. The philosophy is theistic in nature and came during a period when African philosophical literature was significantly oral in character. It has often been compared by scholars to Descartes' Discours de la methode (1637).
Cartesian doubt is a form of methodological skepticism associated with the writings and methodology of René Descartes (1596–1650). Cartesian doubt is also known as Cartesian skepticism, methodic doubt, methodological skepticism, universal doubt, systematic doubt or hyperbolic doubt.
In the fields of epistemology and philosophy of mind, a person has privileged access to their own thoughts. This implies the subject has access to, and knows, their own thoughts in such a way that others do not. Privileged access can be characterized in two ways:
The Ancient City, published in 1864, is the most famous book of the French historian Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges (1830-1889). Taking inspiration from René Descartes, and based on texts of ancient historians and poets, the author investigates the origins of the most archaic institutions of Greek and Roman society.
The wax argument or the ball of wax example is a thought experiment that René Descartes created within his Meditations on First Philosophy. He devised it to analyze what properties are essential for bodies, show how uncertain our knowledge of the world is compared to our knowledge of our minds, and argue for rationalism.
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