The Meditations is Descartes best effort to prove that there are truths which one simply cannot doubt. What is ironic is that while he intends to eradicate total skepticism, he uses a method of systematic doubt. Yet, Descartes’ method is quite clever, involving powerful skeptical hypotheses which call into doubt classes of knowledge claims by: the senses, the imagination, and reason or understanding. To many, Descartes’ effort was extremely arrogant. Yet, it wasn’t out of step with many other philosophers and scientists who perennially have looked for a solid foundation for human knowledge. The Meditations are repetitive and at times slow going, but not abstruse. With a little effort the main ideas become accessible to everyone—not just philosophers and the learned. Our translation focuses on plain language—American English— as further means of accessibility to Descartes’ main points.
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