Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen: The Defense of Reason in Descartes's Meditations

By Harry G. Frankfurt | Go to book overview

Preface to the Princeton Edition

Descartes was my first love in philosophy. Indeed, I have never been as devoted to studying the thought of any other philosopher as I was for some years devoted to studying the thought of Descartes. I was drawn to him at the start by his intriguing promise of ultimate and absolute certainty regarding the foundations of thought and regarding the totality of knowledge that he maintained could be built solidly upon them, by the precision and clarity of his writing, and by the fact that his books are short enough that a comprehensive mastery of his work did not seem entirely out of the question.

So I read with great intensity what Descartes had written, and I studied the leading commentators—Guéroult, Gouhier, Alquié, Beyssade, Curley, as well as numerous others who have contributed to the scholarly literature—

-xiii-

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Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen: The Defense of Reason in Descartes's Meditations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface to the Princeton Edition xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • One - The First Meditation 1
  • 1: Introduction 3
  • 2: The General Overthrow of Belief 19
  • 3: The Criterion of Doubt 32
  • 4: The Perception of the Physical World 43
  • 5: The Strategy of the First Meditation 60
  • 6: Simple and Universal Things 75
  • 7: Mathematics in the First Meditation 84
  • 8: Mathematics and the Omnipotent Deceiver 93
  • 9: Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen 108
  • Two - Reason and Its Validation 121
  • 10: Sum 123
  • 11: Sum Res Cogitans 154
  • Clear and Distinct Perception 175
  • 13: Objections to Descartes's Rule of Evidence 200
  • 14: Memory and Doubt 215
  • 15: The Validation of Reason 235
  • 16: Truth and Reality 250
  • Index 257
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