Sep 08, 2020dixithanoop rated this title 4 out of 5 stars
Claimer: I don't think I'm even qualified to review a treatise of this depth, and I claim no responsibility for justifying the conclusions I personally drew upon reading it.
The book and its content are so cerebral, analytical, and scholarly that I can easily write a whole book dedicated to the review of this book. In fact, many accomplished scholars, both modern and contemporaries of the author have done that, and they're aptly referred as "Objections". "Meditations on First Philosophy" and its partial prequel "Rules for the Direction of the Mind" are two among Rene Descartes's most influential treatises, and are widely read to this day. My reasons for reading these two is my adherence to the idea behind one of the conclusions of the book - "I think, therefore I am" (Cogito, ergo sum). I was captivated by the simplicity and profoundness of this thought, and would leave no room to let go of any path through which I can understand how the author came to this conclusion. I mean, it's a simple thing to know. But to realize it and build all other assumptions on top of it is truly a daunting task.
Coming to the Meditations themselves, the very first one is the most interesting of all as far as I am concerned. And it goes like this: "Of the things that may be brought under the sphere of doubtful", That, right there is the basis for Popper's falsification theory! Basically, the author says everything could be brought under this sphere if doubtful, because the way we have come to know of anything is through our senses, and senses are deceitful. But the only thing that we could be sure of is the fact that we exist, as otherwise, we wouldn't be able to doubt anything. As a matter of fact, this notion of "I think, therefore I am" never really comes in any meditation. It's mentioned in the response of the author to the second objection to the book. However, throughout the first meditation, we can see material building up to lead us to this.
Overall, I enjoyed reading every page of this - every rule and every meditation. It takes our brain through a deep tunnel where we are expected to make connections between each of our beliefs, starting from the most basic one - that we exist. I think it's even possible to formalize this book with a whole bunch of mathematical notations, putting all the rules in a set, and then creating a Directed Acyclic Graph between the rules and meditations. I'd highly recommend these two treatises for anyone that's even slightly philosophically inclined.