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October 2018

Pascal: The Pensées

800px-Blaise_Pascal_2The Pensées (literally thoughts) is a fragmentary collection of writings prepared by the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal for a projected defence of Christianity, left unfinished at his death in 1662. The proper order of the work has been the subject of much controversy, and older public domain works may not reflect recent scholarship.

Pascal was closely associated with the Jansenist movement in French Catholicism, and the Pensées reflect the Augustinian belief that man can be saved only by a divine grace he can do nothing to earn. This spirit is reflected in the most famous argument of the Pensées, 'Pascal's wager', which suggests that it is better to live as if God exists because one avoids infinite loss is one is right and suffers only finite loss if one is wrong.

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Bartleby: Thoughts. Harvard Classics Volume 48, Part 1. English translation. HTML format.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Pensées. Translated by William Finlayson Trotter. Multiple formats.

Classical Library: Pensées. English translation. HTML format.

Gallica: Pensées, Tome 1. French text edited by Léon Bruschvicg (1904). Image file format.

Gutenberg: Pascale's Pensées. English translation. Introduction by T.S. Eliot. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Pensées, translated by W.F. Trotter. 1941 Modern Library edition. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Pascal's Pensées, translated by Gertrude Burford Rawlings. Multiple formats.

Intratext: Pensées, translated by W.F. Trotter. HTML format.

Samizdat.qc.ca: Pensées. French text. PDF based on 1671 edition.

University of Adelaide: Pensées, translated by W.F. Trotter. Multiple formats.

University of Freiburg: Pensées. French text. PDF format.

University of Dusseldorf: Pensées. French text, 1812 Renouard edition. Image file format.

Wikisource: French texts and English translation by William Finlayson Trotter. HTML and other formats.

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Descartes: Discourse on Method

Frans_Hals_-_Portret_van_René_DescartesThe Discourse on Method (French: Discours de la méthode) by René Descartes was published in French in Leiden in 1637, alongside essays on optics, meteorology and geometry. It offered the an autobiographical of Descartes skeptical method and the positive metaphysical conclusions that he would later develop more fully in the Meditations. Notable among these is the first formulation of the famous 'Cogito', the principle that 'I think therefore I am' and cannot doubt my own existence.

Of the accompanying scientific essays, that on geometry is notable for introducing Cartesian co-ordinates.

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Bartleby: Discourse on Method. English translation. Harvard Classics, Volume 34, Part 1. HTML format.

Gallica: Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison et chercher la vérité dans les sciences , plus la dioptrique, les météores et la géométrie qui sont des essais de cette méthode. French text. Image file format.

Gutenberg: Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences, translated by John Veitch. Multiple formats. 

Gutenberg: Discours de la méthode. French text. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Discourse on the Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, Objections against the Meditations and Replies, The Geometry, by René Descartes. The Ethics, by Benedict De Spinoza. Great Books of the Western World, no 31 (1925). Multiple formats.

Liberty Fund: The Method, Meditations and Philosophy of Descartes, translated by John Veitch. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: French text and English translation. HTML and other formats.

Zulu Ebooks: Discours de la méthode. French text. PDF format.

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Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy

Descartes3Meditations on First Philosophy (Latin: Meditationes de prima philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animae immortalitas demonstrantur) by Réne Descartes was first published in Latin in 1641, appearing in a French translation in 1647.

The six meditations which make up the book describe a series of mental exercises, undertaken over consecutive days.  The first meditation introduces Descartes' method of universal doubt. The second introduces the famous argument often summarised as 'I think therefore I am' (Latin: cogito ergo sum), and cannot doubt my own existence. 

In the later meditations, Descartes arrives at conventional opinions about God and the world, while more subtly introducing the foundations of his own system of physics. It is however, the first two meditations which have more often been seen as a foundational influence on modern philosophy, although the 'Cartesian dualism' which they introduced between mind and matter has been a target of persistent criticism.

Alongside the Meditations, Descartes published seven sets of objections by distinguished scholars along with his replies. These were 1. Johannes Caterus 2. Marin Mersenne 3. Thomas Hobbes 4. Antoine Arnauld 5. Pierre Gassendi 6. Further objections collected by Mersenne. 7. Pierre Bourdin.

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The Classical Library: The Meditations, translated by John Veitch. HTML format.

Gallica: Méditations métaphysiques. French text (1690). Image file format. 

Gutenberg: Meditationes de prima philosophia - Latin text. Multiple formats.

Early Modern Texts: Meditations on First Philosophy - adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Internet Archive: Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Discourse on the Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, Objections against the Meditations and Replies, The Geometry, by René Descartes. The Ethics, by Benedict De Spinoza. Great Books of the Western World, no 31 (1925). Multiple formats.

Latin Library: Meditationes - Latin text. HTML format.

Liberty Fund: The Method, Meditations and Philosophy of Descartes, translated by John Veitch. Multiple formats.

Marxists.org: Meditations on First Philosophy, translated by John Cottingham. HTML format.

Philosophy-Index: Meditations on First Philosophy, translated by John Veitch. HTML format.

University of Leeds/Internet Archive: Hobbes' Objections to Descartes' Meditations. HTML format.

Wikisource: Latin text, French and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Wright State University: Descartes' Meditations. English, French and Latin texts. HTML format.

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Thomas More: Utopia

UtopiaUtopia by Thomas More inaugurated a new literary genre on its first publication in Latin at Louvain, Belgium in 1516. It's title, from a Greek term meaning 'nowhere', has become the established term for any imaginary, ideal Commonwealth.

Utopia took inspiration from the voyages of discovery of More's own day, being ostensibly the account of Raphael Hythloday, a traveller with Amerigo Vespucci. In book 1, Hythloday and More discuss the role of the philosopher in civic life, touching on many of the ills of contemporary Europe. Hythloday introduces his account of the idealised society he encountered on the island of Utopia in book 2. The Utopian system of common property contrasts sharply with the enclosures then underway in contemporary England, and the sharpness of the book's satire may have contributed to its publication on the continent, under the editorship of Erasmus.

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Bartleby: Utopia - Harvard Classics, Vol. 36, Part 3. HTML format.

Gutenberg: Utopia. Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Utopia, Robinson translation and Latin text (1895). Multiple formats.

Marxists.org: Utopia. 1901 Cassell & Co. edition. HTML format.

Online Library of Liberty: Ideal Empires and Republics. Rousseau’s Social Contract, More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, Campanella’s City of the Sun, with an Introduction by Charles M. Andrews (1901). Multiple formats.

Open Utopia - 2016 translation, including letters, commendations and marginalia, with Creative Commons license. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Utopia. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Latin text and English translation by Gilbert Burnet (1901). HTML format.

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Erasmus: In Praise of Folly

Marginal_Drawings_for_The_Praise_of_Folly_(3) _by_Hans_and_Ambrosius_HolbeinIn Praise of Folly (Latin: Moriae Encomium or Stultitiae Laus) is an essay originally written by the great Dutch classicist Desiderius Erasmus while staying in London with Sir Thomas More, who is the subject of a punning reference in its Latin title.

The work is written from the perspective of Folly herself, whose self-praise provides the vehicle for a wide-ranging satire of contemporary society.

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Christian Classics Ethereal Library: In Praise of Folly, translated by John Wilson (1688). Multiple formats.

Fordham University Modern History Sourcebook: In Praise of Folly. Single page HTML format.

Gutenberg: In Praise of Folly. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: In Praise of Folly, translated by John Wilson. Clarendon (1913). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: In Praise of Folly, translated by John Wilson. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Latin text and English translation. HTML and other formats.

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