Discourse on the Method, and Meditations on First Philosophy

Descartes' ideas not only changed the course of Western philosophy but also led to or transformed the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, physics and mathematics, political theory and ethics, psychoanalysis, and literature and the arts. This book reprints Descartes' major works, Discourse on Method and Meditations, and presents essays by leading scholars that explore his contributions in each of those fields and place his ideas in the context of his time and our own. There are chapters by David Weissman on metaphysics and psychoanalysis, John Post on epistemology, Lou Massa on physics and mathematics, William T. Bluhm on politics and ethics, and Thomas Pavel on literature and art. These essays are accompanied by others by David Weissman and by Stephen Toulmin that introduce the idea of intellectual lineages, discuss the period in which Descartes wrote, and reexamine the premises of his philosophy in light of contemporary philosophical, political, and social thinking.