Commentaries on the Exhibit’s Works




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A brief commentary prepared by Margaret Strain, PhD, Professor, English, on the following work:

René Descartes
Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la verité dans les sciences (Discourse on the Method)
Leiden, 1637; first edition


A fundamental principle of modern philosophical thinking can be traced to René Descartes’s famous assertion, “Je pense donc je suis” (“I think; therefore, I am.”), from Part 4 of the Discourse on the Method. Descartes intended the treatise as a response to prevailing Aristotelian principles of knowledge reliant on the senses. Divided into six sections, the work is both philosophical and autobiographical in that Descartes uses his own intellectual development to explain how he arrived at his method. In essence, Descartes “considers false any belief that falls prey to even the slightest doubt,” thus arriving at truth. His method became the basis for scientific inquiry. Its printing in Descartes’s native French rather than Latin suggests Descartes’s attempt to reach beyond a scholastic audience.

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Descartes: ‘Discourse on the Method’


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