Reading, Writing, Thinking
I Re-Read, Therefore I Understand
Kimberly Blessing tells us René Descartes’ advice on reading philosophy.
Anyone who has sat down to read a primary text in philosophy knows that it’s often not easy! Fortunately, French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (1596-1650) provides us with some useful advice about how to read a philosophical text. But before I turn to his advice on how to read philosophy, let me tell you a bit about this great philosopher.
Descartes’ most widely read work is his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), or maybe his earlier work Discourse on Method (1635), which served as a preface to three essays, Optics, Meteorology and Geometry (the latter contains the first introduction of the Cartesian coordinate system). The passage below appears in another work that is less widely read in introductory philosophy courses, The Principles of First Philosophy (1644). Descartes wrote the Principles as a sort of textbook.