Discourse on Method (1636)

Discourse on Method was published in 1636. Although he had dedicated his adult life to research in philosophy, mathematics, and science, the 40-year-old Descartes had not published anything prior to it—largely due to fears of censure. Discourse on Method introduces the scientific method that Descartes invented, explains how his views came about, and describes why he has been so hesitant to publish. In addition to its insight into Descartes's philosophy and method, it also gives us insight into the intellectual climate of his time.

Principles of Philosophy (1644)

Descartes intended Principles of Philosophy to be his magnum opus—the synthesis of all his theories in physics and philosophy divided into four parts. Part I is the only part of the work that we, today, would call “philosophy.” It is an account of Descartes’s epistemology and his metaphysics. The other three parts of the work deal with Descartes’s natural philosophy, or what we would call “science.” Descartes Principles of Philosophy intended as a coherent picture of the entire “tree” of human knowledge, which he hoped would serve as a textbook should his work ever be taught at the universities.

Rules for the Direction of the Mind (1701)

Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Regulae ad directionem ingenii in Latin) is a work by René Descartes that was published posthumously. It is described in a section of summary and analysis in the SparkNotes Guide Selected Works of René Descartes.

Popular pages: Meditations on First Philosophy