Time Spent With the Harvard Classics: Descartes – The Discourse on the Method

Born on March 31, 1596,  the French philosopher, mathematician and scientist Rene Descartes became the father of modern western philosophy before his death on February 11, 1650.  Although born in France, he spent most of his life in the Dutch Republic and is generally regarded as one of the most notable intellectuals of the Dutch Golden Age.

Most of modern Western philosophy boils down to a response to this man’s thinking.  In fact, his Meditations on First Philosophy is a standard text within most university philosophy departments.  His influence on math is equally well founded with the Cartesian coordinate system named after him.  Moreover, he is often acclaimed as the father of analytical geometry which bridges the gap between algebra and geometry and is used in infinitesimal calculus and analysis.  As such, Descartes is a key figure in the scientific revolution.

Perhaps his most famous philosophic statement, however, is his summation of Cogito ergo sum.  In English, I think therefore I am.  My apologies for the nonthinkers out there for agreeing with Descartes.  In his development of this theorem, Descrates laid the foundation of 17th century rationalism which went on to further advocation by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz.

Published in 1637, The Discourse On the Method is one of the most important works in modern philosophy and in the development of the natural sciences.  This work tackles the problem of skepticism and through his work finds that there is an objective truth to be found that is incontrovertible.  Beginning in doubt and with the freshest of perspectives, he cleared himself of preconceived notions and came to ultimately believe he had found his way to objective truth.  The base of epistemology, Cartesianism.

You may read The Discourse On Method here:


Alternatively, you may listen to this work in its audiobook format here:




About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
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