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Descartes, René (1596–1650)

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-DA026-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DA026-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/descartes-rene-1596-1650/v-1

List of works

  • Descartes, R. (1964–74) Oeuvres de Descartes, ed. C. Adam and P. Tannery, Paris: CNRS/Vrin, new edn, 11 vols.

    (Originally published 1897–1913, and more recently updated, this is still the standard edition of Descartes’ writings in the original languages. It contains editions of all of the writings listed below, as well as his letters. The incomplete La description du corps humain and Prima cogitationes are included in volume 11.)

  • Descartes, R. (1984–91) The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3 vols.

    (The now-standard English translation of Descartes’ writings. It contains the entire Rules, Discourse, Meditations and Passions, as well as selections from his other writings and letters.)

  • Descartes, R. (1620–c.28) Regulae ad directionem ingenii ( Rules for the Direction of the Mind ), in vol. 1 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.

    (Descartes’ early treatise on method, left unpublished at his death. Manuscripts were widely circulated, and it was published first in Dutch translation in 1684 and in the Latin original in 1701.)

  • Descartes, R. (c.1630–3) Le Monde ( The World ), excerpted in vol. 1 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.

    (Descartes’ first draft of a scientific system, including general physics, cosmology, terrestrial physics, and human physiology. Withdrawn from publication when Galileo was condemned, the Treatise on Man was first published in Latin translation in 1662, then in the French original in 1664; the Treatise on Light was first published in French in 1664.)

  • Descartes, R. (1637) Discours de la méthode pour bien conduir sa raison et chercher la vérité dans les sciences plus la dioptrique, les meteores, et la geometrie, qui sont des essais de cete methode ( Discourse on the Method for Properly Conducting Reason and Searching for Truth in the Sciences, as well as the Dioptrics, the Meteors, and the Geometry, which are essays in this method ), in vol. 1 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.

    (Descartes’ first publication: three scientific treatises, together with an introduction that was to become more famous and widely read than the essays that it introduced.)

  • Descartes, R. (1641) Meditationes de prima philosophia ( Meditations on First Philosophy ), in vol. 2 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.

    (Descartes’ main metaphysical work, it was published with a series of objections together with Descartes’ replies, six sets in the 1641 edition; a seventh was added in the 1642 edition. Also important is the 1647 French translation, published with some changes.)

  • Descartes, R. (1644) Principia philosophiae ( Principles of Philosophy ), excerpted in vol. 1 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.

    (After Part I, which deals with metaphysics, this mainly deals with Descartes’ physics. Also important is the 1647 French translation, with a new preface and some significant changes.)

  • Descartes, R. (1649) Les passions de l’âme ( The Passions of the Soul ), in vol. 1 of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, ed. and trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch and A. Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984–91.

    (Descartes’ last published work, this deals with philosophical psychology and morals.)

References and further reading

The journal Archives de Philosophie annually publishes a report from the Centre d’études cartésiennes (Université de Paris IV (Sorbonne)), which contains full bibliographies of recent work on Descartes and Cartesianism, together with selective reviews.

  • Baillet, A. (1691) La Vie de M. Descartes (Life of Descartes), Paris: Daniel Horthemels, 2 vols.

    (The most important source on Descartes’ life. It was his ‘official’ biography, commissioned by a circle of Descartes’ followers. Baillet had access to numerous papers that are no longer extant.)

  • Beck, L.J. (1952) The Method of Descartes: A Study of the Regulae, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    (Detailed study of Descartes’ method, as presented in the Rules.)

  • Beck, L.J. (1965) The Metaphysics of Descartes: A Study of the Meditations, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    (A careful study of Descartes’ Meditations.)

  • Beeckman, I. (1604–34) Journal tenu par Isaac Beeckman de 1604 à 1634, ed. C. de Waard, The Hague: Nijhoff, 4 vols, 1939–53.

    (Excerpts from the journals, which include discussons between Descartes and Beeckman, are also included in Oeuvres de Descartes, ed. C. Adam and P. Tannery, Paris: CNRS/Vrin, 1964–74, vol 10: 41–78, 151–69.)

  • Bouillier, F. (1868) Histoire de la philosophie cartésienne (History of Cartesian philosophy), Paris: Durand, 3rd edn, 2 vols; repr. New York: Garland, 1987.

    (After more than a century, this remains the best study of Descartes’ influence on his contemporaries and followers.)

  • Chappell, V. and Doney, W. (1987) Twenty-five years of Descartes Scholarship 1960–1984. A Bibliography, New York: Garland.

    (An update of Sebba’s earlier bibliography.)

  • Clarke, D.M. (1982) Descartes’ Philosophy of Science, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    (A study of Descartes’ science and its philosophy, from the point of view of Descartes’ actual practice.)

  • Cottingham, J.G. (1986) Descartes, Oxford: Blackwell.

    (Good introductory study of Descartes’ philosophical thought.)

  • Cottingham, J.G. (1992) The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    (This collection has good, up-to-date overviews of current thought on a variety of topics in Descartes’ philosophy.)

  • Curley, E.M. (1978) Descartes against the Skeptics, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    (A study of Descartes’ philosophical writings as a response to classical scepticism.)

  • Des Chene, D. (1996) Physiologia: Natural philosophy in late Aristotelian and Cartesian thought, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    (An up-to-date study of Descartes’ relation to scholastic philosophy, progressively becoming a central theme in Cartesian studies.)

  • Doney, W. (1967) Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays, Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

    (Collection of classic and often-cited articles on Descartes’ philosophy.)

  • Frankfurt, H. (1970) Demons, Dreamers and Madmen: The Defense of Reason in Descartes’ Meditations, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merill.

    (An imaginative and highly influential reading of Descartes’ epistemology, particularly the Cartesian circle.)

  • Galilei, G. (1638) Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno à due nuove scienze, trans. S. Drake, Two New Sciences, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1974.

    (The work dismissed by Descartes as lacking systematic coherence.)

  • Garber, D. (1992) Descartes’ Metaphysical Physics, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    (This concentrates on Descartes’ natural philosophy and its relation to his more philosophical interests.)

  • Gaukroger, S. (1980) Descartes: Philosophy, Mathematics and Physics, Sussex: Harvester Press.

    (This collection contains a number of now-classic essays on Descartes’ physics and mathematics in relation to his more philosophical concerns.)

  • Gaukroger, S. (1995) Descartes: An Intellectual Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    (This biography also serves as a historically sensitive commentary on Descartes’ thought. It is especially good on Descartes’ earlier period.)

  • Gilson, É (1930) Études sur le rôle de la pensée médievale dans la formation du système cartésien (Studies on the role of Medieval thought in the formation of the Cartesian system of philosophy), Paris: Vrin.

    (A classic discussion of Descartes’ relations to the scholastic thought which dominated earlier philosophy.)

  • Grosholz, E. (1991) Cartesian Method and the Problem of Reduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

    (Study of Cartesian method, particularly good for its discussion of Descartes’ mathematics.)

  • Gueroult, M. (1984) Descartes’ Philosophy Interpreted According to the Order of Reasons, trans. R. Ariew, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2 vols.

    (Though Gueroult has certain interpretative biases, this remains one of the great close commentaries on Descartes’ philosophy in the French tradition.)

  • Hintikka, J. (1968) ‘ Cogito, Ergo Sum: Inference or Performance’, in W. Doney (ed.) Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 108–101 39.

    (The main adherent of the approach to the Cogito through speech act theory and theories of demonstratives, mentioned in §5 above.)

  • Kenny, A. (1968) Descartes, New York: Random House.

    (Classic introduction to Descartes’ thought.)

  • Marion, J.-L. (1975) Sur l’ontologie grise de Descartes (On Descartes’ hidden ontology), Paris: Vrin, 2nd edn, 1981.

    (A study of Descartes’ Rules in opposition to Aristotle, arguing that Descartes smuggles in a kind of secret ontology. This and the following two books constitute a trilogy, offering a somewhat idealistic interpretation of Descartes’ thought. They have been widely read, and enormously influential on recent Cartesian studies.)

  • Marion, J.-L. (1981) Sur la théologie blanche de Descartes (On Descartes’ blank theology), Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

    (A study of Descartes’ conception of God and the role he plays in the Cartesian system, focusing on the conception of God as the creator of eternal truths.)

  • Marion, J.-L. (1986) Sur le prisme métaphysique de Descartes. Constitution et limites de l’onto-théo-logie dans la pensée cartésienne (On Descartes’ metaphysical prism: the constitution and limits of onto-theo-logy in Cartesian thought), Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

    (A Heideggerian interpretation of the metaphysics of the Meditations, concentrating on the relation between God and the self.)

  • Markie, P. (1992) ‘The Cogito and its importance’, in J. Cottingham (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    (A general survey of analytic interpretations of the Cogito.)

  • Regius, H. (1646) Fundamenta physices (Foundations of physics), Amsterdam.

    (Regius’ main presentation of his natural philosophy, about which Descartes had serious reservations.)

  • Rodis-Lewis, G. (1971) L’oeuvre de Descartes (The work of Descartes), Paris: Vrin, 2 vols.

    (A chronological study of Descartes’ thought and writings that also serves as an intellectual biography. Elegantly written, it shows an unusually broad knowledge of Descartes’ writings. Also useful for its encyclopedic discussion of the French literature on Descartes before 1971.)

  • Rorty, A.O. (1986) Essays on Descartes’ Meditations, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    (This collection of essays, all on themes from the Meditations, serves as a collective commentary on the work.)

  • Sabra, A.I. (1961) Theories of Light from Descartes to Newton, London: Oldbourne; 2nd edn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

    (Study of seventeenth- century optics, particularly good on Descartes contribution to the subject.)

  • Sebba, G. (1964) Bibliographia Cartesiana. A Critical Guide to the Descartes Literature 1800–1960, The Hague: Matinus Nijhoff.

    (The standard source for the older literature on Descartes. In addition to a listing by author, it contains some commentary on the more important items.)

  • Shea, W.R. (1991) The Magic of Numbers and Motion: The Scientific Career of René Descartes, Canton, MA: Science History Publications.

    (This study of Descartes’ scientific thought is particularly good on his early years.)

  • Verbeek, T. (1992) Descartes and the Dutch: Early Reactions to Cartesianism (1637–1650), Journal of the History of Philosophy Monograph Series, Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

    (Excellent study of Descartes’ intellectual and personal relations with the people among whom he lived for the better part of his adult life.)

  • Voss. S. (1993) Essays on the Philosophy and Science of René Descartes, New York and Oxford; Oxford University Press.

    (Collection of articles that gives a good idea of recent work.)

  • Vuillemin, J. (1960) Mathématiques et métaphysique chez Descartes (Descartes’ mathematics and metaphysics), Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

    (A very valuable study of Descartes’ mathematics understood in the context of his philosophy.)

  • Williams, B. (1978) Descartes: the Project of Pure Enquiry, Hassock: Harvester.

    (Classic introduction to Descartes’ philosophical thought from an analytic point of view.)

  • Wilson, M. (1978) Descartes, London: Routledge.

    (An excellent and influential commentary, centred on the Meditations.)

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Citing this article:
Garber, Daniel. Bibliography. Descartes, René (1596–1650), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DA026-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/descartes-rene-1596-1650/v-1/bibliography/descartes-rene-1596-1650-bib.
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