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Descartes: A Very Short Introduction [#030]
Descartes: A Very Short Introduction [#030]
  • The best introduction to Descartes aimed at non-specialists
  • Descartes is considered the founder of modern philosophy, and his work is studied in all undergraduate philosophy courses
  • He is best known for the statement 'Cogito, ergo sum' ('I think, therefore I am')
  • Takes account of Descartes's scientific work as well as his philosophy, including his investigations into physics, mathematics, psychology, and optics

René Descartes (1596-1650) had a remarkably short working life, and his output was small, yet his contributions to philosophy and science have endured to the present day. He is perhaps best known for his statement 'Cogito, ergo sum'. By a mixture of 'intuition' and 'deduction' Descartes derived from the 'cogito' principle first the existence of a material world. 

But Descartes did not intend the metaphysics to stand apart from his scientific work, which included important investigations into physics, mathematics, psychology, and optics. In this book Tom Sorrell shows that Descartes was, above all, an advocate and practitioner of a new mathematical approach to physics, and that he developed his metaphysics to support his programme in the sciences.


Texts and Translations
List of Illustrations

 1. Matter and Metaphysics
 2. The Discovery of a Vocation
 3. One Science, One Method
 4. ‘Absolutes’, Simple Natures, and Problems
 5. Roaming about in the World
 6. Paris
 7. The Suppressed Physics
 8. Three Specimens of a Method
 9. A New ‘Logic’
10. The Need for Metaphysics
11. The Meditations
12. Doubt without Scepticism?
13. The Theologians and the God of Physics
14. Ideas
15. The Mind
16. Body
17. The Physics made Public
18. The ‘Other Sciences’
19. Last Days
20. Descartes’s Ghost
Further Reading

About the author: 

Tom Sorell, Professor of Philosophy, University of Essex
Tom Sorell is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex. He is the author of Hobbes (1986), Moral Theory and Capital Punishment (1987), Scientism (1991), and editor of The Rise of Modern Philosophy (1993) and The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes (1995).

Sorell's account well portrays the intensely personal character of Descartes's thought, and in doing so tells us much about the thinker himself. The pages ... devoted to the Meditations surely constitute the best available introductory sketch of Descartes's classic. - Times Higher Education Supplement

concise and lucid ... it radiates authority - J. V. Field, Mathematical Reviews

Product details

ISBN : 9780192854094

Tom Sorell
128 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Oct 2000
Very Short Introductions
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Descartes: A Very Short Introduction [#030]

Descartes: A Very Short Introduction [#030]

Descartes: A Very Short Introduction [#030]