Discourse on the Method

Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences (French: Discours de la Méthode Pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la vérité dans les sciences) is a philosophical and autobiographical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. It is best known as the source of the famous quotation "Je pense, donc je suis" ("I think, therefore I am", or "I am thinking, therefore I exist"),[1] which occurs in Part IV of the work. A similar argument, without this precise wording, is found in Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), and a Latin version of the same statement Cogito, ergo sum is found in Principles of Philosophy (1644).

Discourse on the Method
Discourse on the Method
AuthorRené Descartes
Original titleDiscours de la Méthode Pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la vérité dans les sciences
LanguageFrench
Subjectphilosophical and autobiographical
Publication date
1637
Original text
Discours de la Méthode Pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la vérité dans les sciences at French Wikisource
TranslationDiscourse on the Method at Wikisource

Discourse on the Method is one of the most influential works in the history of modern philosophy, and important to the development of natural sciences.[2] In this work, Descartes tackles the problem of skepticism, which had previously been studied by other philosophers. While addressing some of his predecessors and contemporaries, Descartes modified their approach to account for a truth he found to be incontrovertible; he started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so as to assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of any preconceived notions.

The book was originally published in Leiden, in the Netherlands. Later, it was translated into Latin and published in 1656 in Amsterdam. The book was intended as an introduction to three works: Dioptrique, Météores and Géométrie. La Géométrie contains Descartes's initial concepts that later developed into the Cartesian coordinate system. The text was written and published in French rather than Latin, the latter being the language in which most philosophical and scientific texts were written and published at that time. Most of Descartes' other works were written in Latin.

Together with Meditations on First Philosophy, Principles of Philosophy and Rules for the Direction of the Mind, it forms the base of the epistemology known as Cartesianism.


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