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Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy

2. The Method of Doubt

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the question of doubt, focusing in particular on Descartes' method of doubt—is there anything in life of which we can be absolutely certain?


In this course, Professor Cottingham (University of Reading) explores René Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy. In the first module, we provide a brief introduction to Descartes himself and his philosophical system, as described in his Discourse on the Method. After that, we move through the Meditations themselves, focusing in turn on Descartes' method of doubt, his famous philosophical proposition cogito ergo sum, his belief in the existence of God and the reliability of science, and his understanding of the relationship between the body and the mind, a position known today as Cartesian dualism.


John Cottingham is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. He has published thirty books — thirteen as sole author, a further nine editions and translations, plus (either as single or join editor) eight edited collections — together with over 115 articles or chapters in journals or books. His books include Descartes, The Rationalists, Philosophy and the Good Life, On the Meaning of Life, The Spiritual Dimension (Cambridge, 2005), Cartesian Reflections (Oxford, 2008), Why Believe? (Continuum 2009) and Philosophy of Religion: Towards a More Humane Approach (Cambridge, 2014). He is co-editor and translator of the three-volume standard Cambridge edition of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. From 1993-2012 he was editor of Ratio, the international journal of analytic philosophy. The Moral Life, a Festschrift honouring his work on moral psychology, ethics and religion, was published in 2008.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cottingham, J. (2018, August 15). Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy - The Method of Doubt [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cottingham, J. "Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy – The Method of Doubt." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,