René Descartes

René Descartes

René Descartes (1596-1650) was a French polymath who did most of his work in the Dutch Republic. He was both a mathematician—we still use his ‘Cartesian coordinates’—and a key figure in Western philosophy. Descartes grew up in an era when education was massively influenced by the notion of truth by authority, the idea that because Aristotle—or some other important thinker—said it, it must be true.

Books by René Descartes

Interviews where books by René Descartes were recommended

Key Philosophical Texts in the Western Canon, recommended by Nigel Warburton

Even if you’ve never studied philosophy, it’s nice to be able to read a few books and get a sense of what it’s all about. Here, we asked our philosophy editor, Nigel Warburton, to talk us through five key works of Western philosophy—many of them in the public domain and available for free as ebooks—and explain why, despite one or two odd conclusions or quirky writing styles, they’ve played such an important role in expanding our understanding of the world.

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