Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry

Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry

Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry

Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry

Synopsis

Descartes has often been called the 'father of modern philosophy'.His attempts to find foundations for knowledge, and to reconcile the existence of the soul with the emerging science of his time, are among the most influential and widely studied in the history of philosophy.This is a classic and challenging introduction to Descartes by one of the most distinguished modern philosophers. Bernard Williams not only analyzes Descartes's project of founding knowledge on certainty, but uncovers the philosophical motives for his search. With acute insight, he demonstrates how Descartes's Meditations are not merely a description but the very enactment of philosophical thought and discovery. Williams covers all of the key areas of Descartes's thought, including God, the will, the possibility of knowledge, and the mind and its place in nature. He also makes some profound contributions to the theory of knowledge, metaphysics and philosophy generally, making Descartes essential reading for any student of philosophy.This reissue includes a new foreword by John Cottingham, University of Reading

Excerpt

The reissue of Bernard Williams's fascinating study of Descartes, over a quarter of a century after its first publication, is a tribute to the still vividly fresh thinking of one of Britain's foremost philosophers, whose death in 2003 was such a grievous loss to the subject.

Although it deals with one of the major canonical figures in the history of philosophy, the book is not primarily a historical work: it is intended (as the author indicates in his own preface) to be philosophy before it is history. This is not to say that Williams shared the dismissive attitude which some of his colleagues felt towards historical and contextual approaches to the great philosophers; readers of the book will find, for example, a wealth of detailed reference to the actual Cartesian texts, and to how Descartes shaped his ideas in response to contemporary critics. But Williams believed that in the sort of history of philosophy that was fundamentally worth doing, there had to be, as he put it, 'a cut-off point, where authenticity is replaced as the objective by the aim of articulating philosophical ideas' (p. xiv). Beyond dispute one of the most articulate and insightful philosophers of our time, Williams was pre-eminently equipped not just to expound the structure of the Cartesian system with great elegance and panache,

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.