Descartes (2017)

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Descartes, René. (2017) Principles of Philosophy. Early Modern Texts. Retrieved from

Title Principles of Philosophy
Resource Type book
Author(s) René Descartes
Year 2017
Publisher Early Modern Texts
ISBN on line resource


Principles of Philosophy (Latin: Principia philosophiae) is a book by René Descartes. In essence it is a synthesis of the Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy. It was written in Latin, published in 1644 and dedicated to Elisabeth of Bohemia, with whom Descartes had a long-standing friendship. A French version (Les Principes de la Philosophie) followed in 1647. It set forth the principles of nature—the Laws of Physics—as Descartes viewed them. Most notably, it set forth the principle that in the absence of external forces, an object's motion will be uniform and in a straight line. Newton borrowed this principle from Descartes and included it in his own Principia; to this day, it is still generally referred to as Newton's First Law of Motion. The book was primarily intended to replace the Aristotelian curriculum then used in French and British universities. The work provides a systematic statement of his metaphysics and natural philosophy, and represents the first truly comprehensive, mechanistic account of the universe.