Epistemology

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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Free online texts

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.

Meditations on First Philosophy at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

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 Hobbes: Leviathan

Leviathan_by_Thomas_HobbesLeviathan by Thomas Hobbes is one of the outstanding works of political theory in the English language. It develops an early social contract theory to argue that human beings must put themselves under a single absolute sovereign as the only way out of a state of nature in which life is famously said to be 'nasty, brutish and short'.

For much of Hobbes' life such an argument would have been seen as favourable to the Stuart monarchy. By the time of Leviathan's publication in 1651, however, it could be read as supporting the effective authority of Cromwell's Commonwealth. Hobbes was acordingly repudiated by former associates among the exiled royalist court in Paris.

His time in France was nevertheless fruitful through associations with the leading philosophers and scientists of the day. This is reflected in the mechanical philosophy of the opening pages of Leviathan, in which living things are compared to automata, and the state to an artificial man, a figure memorably illustrated in the book's original frontispiece.

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Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: Leviathan, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: Leviathan. Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Hobbes's Leviathan, edited by W.G. Pogson Smith (1909). Multiple formats.

Online Library of Liberty: Leviathan, edited by W.G. Pogson Smith (1909). Multiple formats.

Marxists.org: Leviathan (first five chapters) - from the Cambridge Revised Student Edition, Edited by Richard Tuck, 1996. HTML format.

University of Adelaide: Leviathan. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Leviathan. HTML and other formats.

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Aquinas: Summa Theologica

St Thomas Aquinas by Carlo Crivelli (1476). Wikimedia CommonsThe Summa Theologica or Summa Theologiae by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is one of the best known philosophical works of the Middle Ages. Intended as a comprehensive guide to theology for beginning students, the first part of the work deals with God, nature and man, the second part with law and morality, while the third, unfinished part deals with Christ and the sacraments, seen as the route of humanity's return to God, thus giving the whole a cyclical structure.

Summa Theologica at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Summa Theologica, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (1947). Multiple formats.

Corpus Thomisticum: Summa Theologiae - Latin text. HTML format.

Google Play: STh lt - App containing the text of the Summa from the Corpus Thomisticum Project.

Gutenberg: Summa Theologica - Part I-I | Part I-II | Part II-II | Part III. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Summa Theologica, Latin text (1894). Multiple formats.

Intratext: Summa Theologica, English translation. HTML format.

New Advent: The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (1920). HTML format.

Sacred Texts: Summa Theologica, translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province (1947). HTML format.

SummaTheologica.info: Summa Theologica, English translation with onsite Google search. HTML and PDF formats.

University of Notre Dame: Summa Theologica, ongoing translation by Alfred J. Freddoso. PDF format.

Wikisource: Latin text and English translation, by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: St Thomas Aquinas. Melvyn Bragg with Martin Palmer, John Haldane and Annabel Brett.

History Of Philosophy Without Any Gaps: 243 The Ox Heard Round the World - Thomas Aquinas | 244 Everybody Needs Some Body: Aquinas on Soul and Knowledge | 248 - Scott MacDonald on Aquinas, podcast by Peter Adamson.

Internet Encyclopedia  of Philosophy: Thomas Aquinas.

Librivox: Summa Theologica, public domain audiobook.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Wikipedia: Summa Theologica.

Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Plato

Aristotle, referred to by Aquinas as 'The Philosopher': Metaphysics, Ethics.

Cicero

St Paul 'the Apostle'

Dionysius the Areopagite

Augustine 'the Theologian'

Boethius

Ulpian 'the Jurist'

Eriugena

Avicenna

Averroes 'the Commentator'

Al-Ghazali

Anselm 

Abelard

Hugo of St Victor

Peter the Lombard: The Sentences.

Dante: The Divine Comedy - has been described as 'the Summa in verse'.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Pyrrhonism

The Outlines of Pyrrhonism (Πυῤῥώνειοι ὑποτυπώσεις, Pyrrhōneioi hypotypōseis) is a work by Sextus Empiricus, written sometime in the second or third century CE. it is the main source for the ideas of the sceptical movement which traced its roots to Pyrrho of Elis, a philosopher who lived hundreds of years earlier in the 3rd Century BC. 

The Pyrrhonists were opposed on the one hand to dogmatic philosophers such as the stoics, who believed they could attain certain knowledge, and on the other to the rival form of scepticism associated with the Academics, or followers of Plato.

Rediscovered during the renaissance, the work had a profound influence on modern thinkers such as Montaigne, Descartes and David Hume.

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The availability of English translations of the Outlines in the public domain appears to be very limited. While some can be found online, their copyright status is often unclear at best. If you know of a link a comment below would be most welcome.

Gutenberg: Sextus Empiricus and Greek Scepticism by Mary Mills Patrick (1899), includes a translation of the first book of the 'Pyrrhonic Sketches'. Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Sexti Empirici Opera, Greek text, edited by Hermann Mutschmann (1912).

Other Resources

Bibliography on Skepticism, by Diego E. Machuca.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Healthy Skepticism: Sextus Empiricus - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Ancient Greek Skepticism, by Harald Thorsrud.

Philpapers: Outlines of Pyrrhonism - academic bibliography.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sextus Empiricus, by Benjamin Morison.

The Partially Examined Life: Pyrrhonian Skepticism According to Sextus Empiricus - podcast.

Wikipedia: Sextus Empiricus.

Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Cicero: Academica - discusses the form of scepticism, distinct from Pyrrhonism, associated with the Platonic Academy at some periods.


Cicero: Academica

The Academica is Cicero's main philosophical work on the theory of knowledge. The first edition, the Academica Priora, consisted of two books, the dialogues Catulus and Lucullus, of which only the latter is extant. Lucullus defends the stoic position on the possibility of certain knowledge, which Cicero argues takes the view of the academic sceptics that it is necessary to accept what is merely probable.

Part of a revised version, the Academica Posteriora,  in which Varro replaced Lucullus as the main interlocutor, also survives.

The Academica at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: Academica. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Academic Questions, Treatise De Finibus, and Tusculan Disputations. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: De natura deorum; Academica; with an English translation by H. Rackham (1933). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Academica of Cicero. Latin text, edited by James Smith Reid. Multiple formats.

Loebulus. L268 - Cicero -- De Natura Deorum. Academica. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Wikisource: Academica Priora - Latin text. Multiple formats.

Other Resources

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Rhetorical Questions: Cicero - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Raphael Woolf on Cicero - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Cicero: Academic Skepticism, by Harald Thorsrud.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Pyrrhonism - main source for the Pyrrhonist school which propounded a rival form of scepticism to that of the Academics.

Latin resources: Learn to read Latin texts in the original.


Aristotle: The Organon

The Organon is the traditional collection of Aristotle's logical writings. It formed the basis of philosophical education for much of the ancient and medieval periods. It includes the following works:

The Organon at Amazon.com, .uk, .fr, .de, .ca.

Free online texts

Internet Archive: L 325 - The Categories and On Interpretation, translated by Harold P. Cook. Prior Analytics, translated by Hugh Tredennick. Greek and English Loeb edition. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L391 - Posterior Analytics & Topica. Greek and English Loeb edition.

Internet Archive: Organon and Other Works, translated under the editorship of W.D. Ross. Multiple formats.

Loebulus. L400 - Aristotle -- On Sophistical Refutations. On Coming-to-be and Passing Away. On the Cosmos. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Wikisource: The Organon, or Logical Treatises of Aristotle, with the Introduction by Porphyry, translated by Octavius Freire Owen (1863).

Other Resources

Elucidations podcast: Marko Malink discusses modal syllogistic. hosted by Matt Teichman and Jaime Edwards. MP3 file.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Aristotle's Logical Works - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Hugh Benson on Aristotelian Method- podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Aristotle's Logic, by Robin Smith.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: The Traditional Square of Opposition, by Terence Parsons.

The First Science: Online Syllogism Solver.

Wikipedia: The Organon.

The Organon at Amazon.com, .uk, .fr, .de, .ca.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.

 


Aristotle: Posterior Analytics

In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle moves on from the study of formal rules of reasoning  in the Prior Analytics to consider the substantive application of logic to produce scientific knowledge, something which he believes is the product of correct reasoning from true premises. This involves him in addressing Plato's Meno's Paradox, seeking to show how knowledge is possible from a position of former ignorance.

The Posterior Analytics at Amazon.com, .uk, .de, .fr.

Free online texts

Bibliotheca Augustana: Ἀναλυτικὰ ὕστερα. Greek HTML text.

Internet Archive: L391 - Posterior Analytics & Topica. Greek and English Loeb edition.

Internet Classics Archive: Posterior Analytics, translated by G.R. Mure. HTML and text versions.

Online Library of Liberty: Posterior Analytics, translated by E.S. Bouchier (1901). Multiple formats.

The Logic Museum: Posterior Analytics, translated by G. R. Mure. HTML text.

University of Adelaide: Posterior Analytics, translated by G.R. Mure. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Posterior Analytics. Greek text - translation by O.F. Owen (1853)- translation by E.S. Bouchier 1901.

Other Resources

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Aristotle's Logical Works - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: A Principled Stand: Aristotle's Epistemology - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Internet Archive: Posterior Analytics - public domain audiobook.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Aristotle: Logic, by Louis F. Groarke.

Librivox: Posterior Analytics - public domain audiobook.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Aristotle's Logic, by Robin Smith.

University of Houston: Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, Aristotle's Theory of Knowledge and Demonstration, by Cynthia Freeland.

University of Washington: Posterior Analytics: Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. By Marc Cohen.

Wikipedia: Posterior Analytics.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

 Aristotle's Organon: The Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Topics, and Sophistical Refutations.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Plato: Theaetetus

The Theatetus is Plato's most extended discussions of the theory of knowledge. The absence of the theory of forms from the dialogue has perplexed commentators, some of whom conclude that Plato abandoned the theory in the light of the criticisms adduced in the Parmenides.

Free Online and Downloadable Texts

Gutenberg: Theatetus, translated by Benjamin Jowett, multiple formats.

Loebulus. L123 - Plato - Theaetetus. Sophist. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Perseus: Greek text (Burnet ed., 1903). English translation (Fowler, 1921). Online texts.

Wikisource: Theaetetus, translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1871. Online text.

Other Resources

History of Philosophy without any gaps: I Know, Because the Caged Bird Sings: Plato's Theaetetus - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Librivox: Theaetetus - audiobook.

Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy: Plato - Theaetetus.

PhilPapers: Plato - Theaetetus - bibliography with open access option.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Plato on Knowledge in the Theatetus.

Wikipedia: Theatetus.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.

Bloom's Western Canon: Plato's Dialogues are listed.


Plato: The Republic

 

The Republic is Plato's best-known work. An extended reflection on the nature of justice, which retains much of the style of the early dialogues in the opening conversation in Athens, pitting Socrates against the cynical sophist Thrasymachus. From there the dialogue opens out into an extended discussion of the politics of the ideal city, which is closely bound up with ethical considerations, before taking in metaphysical and theological themes with Plato's most striking metaphor, the parable of the cave, and a meditation on the the fate of the individual soul in the myth of Er.

Free Online and Downloadable Texts

Gutenberg: The Republic by Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett, multiple formats.

Internet Classics Archive: The Republic translated by Benjamin Jowett, online text.

Libertyfund: The Republic, translated by Benjamin Jowett, online text.

Loebulus. L237 - Plato --Republic I: Books 1-5. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Loebulus. L276 - Plato --Republic II: Books 6-10. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Perseus: The Republic: Greek text (Burnet ed.,1903 ). English translation (Shorey, 1969). Online texts.

Wikisource: The Republic, translated by Benjamin Jowett. Online text.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Plato's Republic. Melvyn Bragg with Angie Hobbs, MM McCabe, James Warren.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Soul and the City: Plato's Political Philosophy - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Ain't No Sunshine: The Cave Allegory of Plato's Republic - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Plato: The Republic.

Librivox: The Republic - audiobook.

Openculture: Orson Welles Narrates an Animation of Plato’s Cave Allegory - video.

Open Culture: Plato’s Cave Allegory Brought to Life with Claymation - video.

PhilPapers: Plato - Republic - bibliography with open source option.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Plato's  Ethics and Politics in the Republic.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Callicles and Thrasymachus.

University of Utah: Culture and Society in Plato's Republic, by M.F. Burnyeat. PDF format.

Wikipedia: The Republic (Plato).

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.

Bloom's Western Canon: Plato's Dialogues are listed.