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French and English philosophers (1910) PDF ebook

French and English philosophers (1910)

French and English philosophers (1910)
French and English philosophers


Descartes, Rousseau, Voltaire, Hobbes, with introductions, notes, and illustrations.

Discourse on the method of rightly conducting the reason and seeking the truth in the sciences, by Rene Descartes.--Letters on the English, by Voltaire.--A discourse upon the origin and the foundation of the inequality among mankind. The profession of faith of a Savoyard vicar. By J. J. Rousseau.--Of man, being the first part of Leviathan, by T. Hobbes

Excerpt from book introduction

Rene Descartes was born at La Haye in Touraine, March SI, 1596. He came from a landed family with possessions in Britany as well as in the south. His education was begun at the Jesuit College of La Fleche, continued at Paris, and completed by travel in various countries; and his studies were varied by several years of military service. 

After he began to devote himself to philosophy, he lived chiefly in Holland; but the last five months of his life were spent in Stockholm, at the court of Queen Christina of Sweden, where he died on February 11, 1650. While still young, Descartes had become profoundly dissatisfied with the scholastic philosophy, which still survived in the teaching of the Jesuits from whom he received his early training; and adopting a skeptical attitude he set out on his travels determined "to gain knowledge only from himself and the great book of the world, from nature and the observation of man." 

It was in Germany, as he tells us, that there came to him the idea which proved the starting point of his whole system of thought, the idea, "I think, therefore I exist," which called a halt to the philosophical doubt with which he had resolved to regard everything that could conceivably be doubted. On this basis, he built up a philosophy that is usually regarded as the foundation of modern thought. Not that the system of Descartes is accepted today; but the sweeping away of the presupposition of all kinds, and the "method" which he proposed for the discovery of truth, have made possible the whole modern philosophic development. It was in the "Discours\" here printed, originally published in 1637, that this method was first presented to the world. Descartes was distinguished in physics and mathematics as well as in philosophy, and his "Geometry" revolutionised the study of that science. 

If this Discourse appears too long to be read at once, it may be divided into six parts: and, in the first, will be found various considerations touching the Sciences; in the second, the principal rules of the Method which the Author has discovered; in the third, certain of the rules of Morals which he has deduced from this Method; in the fourth, the reasonings by which he establishes the existence of God and of the Human Soul, which are the foundations of his Metaphysic; in the fifth, the order of the Physical questions which he has investigated, and, in particular, the explication of the motion of the heart and of some other difficulties pertaining to Medicine, as also the difference between the soul of man and that of the brutes; and, in the last, what the Author believes to be required in order to greater advancement in the investigation of Nature than has yet been made, with the reasons that have induced him to write.


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