Descartes's Meditations - Further Reading

This section is intended to act as a springboard for those readers who want to develop a deeper understanding of the Meditations, of Descartes's ideas in general, and of related philosophical themes. To aid in this, you will find (eventually) a number of short essays on interesting Philosophical Themes, a list of useful books for Recommended Reading (which are also evaluated in the Reviews section), and a selection of Useful Links. If you find any books or links that you think should be listed here, then please contact me.

Useful Links

I have organised the links roughly into three sections: Online Texts, Background Information, and Topics and Themes. I don’t want to list every site that has anything at all to say about Descartes, but only the especially useful and distinctive ones - so, either useful summaries, distinctive resources, or original approaches. I’m aiming to keep the lists relatively small, but I am always on the lookout for good sites, so if you do come across any - or if any of the links are dead - then please contact me.

Online Texts Background Information Topics and Themes

Recommended Reading

This is a list of useful books on Descartes and the Meditations, as well as the related topics of philosophy of mind, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion. I will only list here books that I have reviewed on the site, or am intending to review (but which I know are good) - so, if there isn't yet a review, there will be eventually. Reviewed books will have a LAUD rating (see here for more information), and you can click on the title to be taken to the review.

I will add to this list as I come across useful books. If you want to recommend a book, then contact me with the details and I will try to track it down. Or, if you are a publisher who wants to send a book for review, contact me to arrange this.

L = Layperson - This book will appeal to those with no specific knowledge of philosophy (this does not mean that it is 'easy', or 'for dummies', but merely that you don't need to have studied philosophy to find it interesting or enjoyable). A = A-level student (UK)/Freshman (US) - This book will be useful for those studying philosophy. It assumes that you will want a certain level of detail and coverage of the subject, and that you are not just reading it for pleasure. However, it is still an introductory text. U = Undergraduate - Generally, a book of this type will provide more detail and be more challenging than a beginner's guide. So, it will either assume some previous knowledge, or else treat the subject in a way that will be useful for more in-depth study. As such, it will be most suitable for those who have aleady read an introductory text, are fairly familiar with the general nature of the subject, and are looking to develop their understanding further. D = Detailed study at degree level. Books of this type are generally quite hard, and - because of their level of detail and depth of argument - are not suitable for beginners or as introductions to the subject. However, they may still be useful for those who have become familiar with the topic in question, and wish to delve deeper (perhaps in search of advanced criticism or clarification of difficult points). Descartes's and the Meditations The Theory of Knowledge The Philosophy of Mind The Philosophy of Religion

Philosophical Themes

My intention here is to discuss some of Descartes's ideas in relation to different areas of philosophy - for instance, certain themes in philosophy of mind, or theory of knowledge. However, in writing these essays, I am not aiming for a general coverage of the topics that Descartes's work is relevant to, but rather to explore certain areas that I am personally interested in, and which represent a specific application of Descartes's theories. So, for instance, I may look at animal rights, sceptical scenarios as they appear in books or films, or whether it is really possible to remember if you've locked the back door on your way out.

Some of these essays will therefore be slightly more challenging, and will not necessarily serve as an introduction to Descartes or the Meditations (the rest of the site does that). However, they will help you to appreciate the continuing relevance of some of the ideas that Descartes raised for modern philosophy, and broaden your understanding of his ideas and the themes they relate to.

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