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I'm planning on reading some of Descartes' books like Meditations on First Philosophy and Discourse on Method.

I was wondering what are the best translations of these books and if there are any free downloadable ebooks of them?

  • I made an edit which you may roll back or continue editing. You can see the versions by clicking on the "edited" link above. Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny Sep 18 '18 at 18:43
  • @Plotinus. I have referenced both the Discourse and the Meditations in a revised reading list. Apologies for previously omitting the Discourse, which you asked about. – Geoffrey Thomas Sep 19 '18 at 12:05
  • @Plotinus. Sorry for the flow of comments. I have now recommended online versions of the Discourse and the Meditations. – Geoffrey Thomas Sep 19 '18 at 20:17
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For Descartes' major philosophical works the current Cambridge tr., 'The Philosophical Writings of Descartes', is probably the best both in terms of the Latin and French scholarship that has gone into it and in terms of philosophical finesse by which it is informed. Other translations, Hackett's or Penguin's, are pretty good but are not so complete (include fewer texts) than the Cambridge edition.

There are downloadable versions of both texts and of other Cartesian works. The trouble is this : the versions that are downloadable are usually old and copyright-expired, hence seldom any longer the best translations; and the best translations are not usually (freely) downloadable. However, you sites listed below offer good translations.

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The Philosophical Writings of Descartes: Volume 1 Descartes, Rene/ Stoothoff, Robert/ Murdoch, Dugald/ Cottingham, John. ISBN 10: 052128807X / ISBN 13: 9780521288071 Published by Cambridge Univ Pr, 1985.

The Philosophical Writi-iu9ngs of Descartes: Volume 2 Descartes, Rene/ Stoothoff, Robert/ Murdoch, Dugald (Translator)/ Cottingham, John. ISBN 10: 0521288088 / ISBN 13: 9780521288088 Published by Cambridge Univ Pr, 1985.

The Philosophical Writings of Descartes: Volume 3 The Correspondence Descartes, Rene/ Stoothoff, Robert/ Murdoch, Dugald/ Kenny, Anthony/ Cottingham, John. ISBN 10: 0521423503 / ISBN 13: 9780521423502 Published by Cambridge Univ Pr, 1991.

ONLINE :

Discourse : https://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1637.pdf

Meditations : https://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1641.pdf

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