Rationalism

Leibniz: The Theodicy

Leibniz_HannoverThe Theodicy (French: Essais de Théodicée) is a 1710 work by Leibniz on the nature of God and the problem of evil. The title taken from the Greek theos (God) and dike (justice), coined what became a general term for attempts to reconcile the existence of evil with a benevolent God. Leibniz's conclusion, that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds, was famously satirised by Voltaire.

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Gutenberg: Theodicy, translated by E.M. Huggard. Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Theodicy - Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil, translated by E.M. Huggard and Austin Farrer. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: French text (currently incomplete). HTML and other formats.

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Leibniz: The Monadology

Gottfried_Wilhelm_Leibniz _Bernhard_Christoph_FranckeThe Monadology (French: La Monadologie) is a short 1714 text by Leibniz outlining his metaphysics in ninety theses. Opposing the mind-body dualism of Descartes, Leibniz proposed a monistic idealist system in which the universe is made up of simple parts known as monads. These parts cannot directly affect each other. Rather reality is the result of a pre-established harmony between them.

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

Gutenberg: Leibnitz' Monadologie. German text, multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings, translated by Robert Latta (1898). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: The Monadology, translated by Robert Latta. Multiple formats.

University of California, San Diego/Internet Archive: Monadology, translated by Robert Latta, revised by Donald Rutherford. HTML format.

University of Leeds/Internet Archive: Monadology, translated by George Macdonald Ross (1999). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: French text and multiple translations. HTML and other formats.

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Leibniz: New Essays on Human Understanding

Gottfried_Wilhelm_Leibniz_c1700The New Essays on Human Understanding (French: Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain) by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, is a response to Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, originally completed in French in 1704, but withheld from publication after Locke's death until 1765. 

The New Essays provide a detailed critique of Locke's work in dialogue form, with one speaker Philalethes, defending Locke's position and a second, Theophilus, presenting Leibniz's own views, including a strong defence of the rationalist doctrine of innate ideas.

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Early Modern Texts: New Essays on Human Understanding, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Internet Archive: New Essays Concerning Human Understanding. English translation (1916). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: French text. HTML and other formats.

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Spinoza: The Ethics

SpinozaEthics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order (Latin: Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata), is a Latin philosophical treatise by Baruch Spinoza, written in around 1664-5 and published shortly after Spinoza's death in 1677.

Spinoza presents his argument as a series of propositions, derived logically from a small number of axioms after the manner of Euclidean geometry. His system is monistic, in that posits reality as consisting of a single substance, and pantheistic in that identifies this substance with God.

Spinoza's conception of God is, however, sufficiently abstract that his thought has often been equated with atheism. This was for a long time a source of huge opprobrium, which meant that his influence on the radical enlightment of the seventeenth and eightenth centuries was largely subterranean. Since then, influence in his work has consistently grown. Among his twentieth century admirers was Albert Einstein who once said that he believed in Spinoza's God 'who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.'

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Bibliotheca Augustana: Ethica Ordine Geometrica Demonstrata. Latin text, HTML format.

Early Modern Texts: Ethics Demonstrated in Geometrical Order, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

EthicaDB: The Ethics. Translations in multiple European languages. HTML format.

Gutenberg: Ethics, translated by R.H.M. Elwes. Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Improvement of the Understanding, Ethics and Correspondence, translated by R.H.M. Elwes. Multiple formats.

Middle Tennessee State University: Ethics, translated by RH.M. Elwes. HTML format.

SpinozaBase: Ethica. Latin text. HTML format.

Wikisource: Latin text and English translation by R.H.M. Elwes. HTML and other formats.

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Spinoza: The Theologico-Political Treatise

Saul_and_David_rembrandtThe Theologico-Political Treatise (Latin: Tractatus Theologico-Politicus) by Baruch Spinoza is an analysis of the Hebrew Bible published anonymously in Latin in 1670. Intended to vindicate political freedom against encroachments based on religious authority, its interpretation owed much to contemporary Hobbesian political theory. While extremely controversial in its own day, it was an important influence on later biblical criticism.

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Early Modern Texts: Treatise on Theology and Politics, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Constitutional Society: Selected Political Works of Baruch de Spinoza. HTML and text formats.

Gutenberg: Theologico-Political Treatise - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 - translated by R.H.M. Elwes. Multiple formats for parts 1 & 2, RDF for parts 3 & 4.

Internet Archive: The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, Vol I, translated by R.H.M Elwes. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Theologico-Political Treatise. Latin text. Multiple formats.

Spinoza et Nouse: Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Latin text. HTML format.

Wikisource: Theologico-Political Treatise, translated by Robert Willis. HTML and other formats.

Wikisource: Theologico-Political Treatise, translated by R.H. Elwes. (Currently incomplete, with only first part transcribed). HTML and other formats.

Yesselman.com: Theologico-Political Treatise, translated by RH. Elwes. HTML format.

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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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