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By René Descartes / M. Walter Dunne / 1901
The Method, Meditations, and Philosophy of Descartes contains three of Descartes most important works: Discourse on the Method, Meditations, and selections from Principles of Philosophy. Together, these three books make up the core of Cartesian epistemology. In the Discourse on the Method, Descartes lays out his method for acquiring knowledge by way of an autobiographical sketch of his own intellectual development. In Meditations, Descartes structures his method for arriving at certain knowledge in the form of six meditations that take place over six days. In Principles of Philosophy, Descartes gives a thorough summary of his philosophical system and shows how that philosophy is the basis for his scientific system.
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René Descartes (1596–1650) was born in La Haye en Touraine, Indre-et-Loire, France. He was a mathematician, philosopher, and writer. He is known both as the father of modern philosophy and as the father of analytical geometry. He is best known for his statement “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore, I am.” Descartes studied at Jesuit College Royal Henry-Le-Grand and the University of Poitiers, where he earned a degree in law. He traveled back and forth between France and the Netherlands throughout his life, writing most of his important works in the Netherlands. Following Galileo’s condemnation by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633, Descartes decided to postpone the publication of his Treatise on the World for nearly four years (and even then he separated it into a number of different books). During this time, he carried on an extensive correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. Descartes was invited to Stockholm to tutor Queen Christina of Sweden. He died there of pneumonia and, as a Roman Catholic living in Protestant nation, was buried in a graveyard for unbaptized infants. His remains were later transferred to Paris. Pope Alexander VII placed the works of Descartes on the banned books list in 1663.