History of Philosophy in the 17th & 18th Centuries
The best modern English translation of the writings of Descartes that are most
relevant to Philosophy is:
- The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, translated
by John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch, Cambridge, 1985,
Most useful for us is the selection from the foregoing published as:
- Descartes: Selected Philosophical Writings, translated
by John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch, Cambridge, 1988,
Many other editions are available, eg the Penguin edition:
Second hand copies all editions are generally available via Abebooks,
which accesses most serious second-hand bookshops world wide and which I can
- Discourse on Method and the Meditations, translated and introduced
by F.E.Sutcliffe, Penguin, 1970.
All the Descartes texts that are closely relevant to what we do are also available
for free on the web of course.
I have downloaded plain copies to our own server so that I can mark them up
for our specific purposes. These might be the best things to use for printing
Here are the versions I have messed with:
More scholarly web editions are generally available, for example:
Introductions to Descartes' thought include:
- J.G. Cottingham, Descartes, Oxford, 1986, Blackwell (which I lean
on a lot - I think it's terrific).
- Anthony Kenny, Descartes: A Study of His Philosophy, Bristol,
1993, Thoemmes (1st published 1968).
- Tom Sorell, Descartes, Oxford, 1987, OUP
General introductions available on-line include:
- Good introductory notes on Descartes by G.J.
- The article on Descartes
in the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is an authoritative
outline and has an appropriate bibliography
attached. This will take you further in various specialist directions.
Convenient collections of articles taking specific topics deeper are:
- Cottingham, J.G. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, Cambridge,
- Doney, W. (ed.) Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays , Garden
City, NY, 1967, Doubleday.
- Rorty, A.O. (ed.) Essays on Descartes’ Meditations , Berkeley,
CA, 1986, University of California Press.
A systematic (and excellent) commentary on the central text for Descartes'
philosophy (the Meditations):
- Wilson, M. Descartes, London, 1978, Routledge.
There are a great many more. The Routledge Encyclopaedia article on Descartes
offers a shortlist.