Talk:René Descartes

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René Descartes was a philosopher in the late 1500s and early 1600s.

Doubt is the origin of wisdom[edit]

This certainly sounds like something Descartes said, and has been attributed to Descartes elsewhere (but without citation). After searching extensively I can not find anything close to this quote attributable to Descartes. The Latin Dubium sapientiae initium is not found in the original Meditationes de prima philosophia by René Descartes [see:]. This was incorrectly cited previously. If you can cite a reference please do, because I like the quote

I think therefore I am[edit]

The wikiquote page give two different sentences with the translation "I think therefore I am". Can someone verify if this is correct, and if not please delete the wrong version.

"I did not write this original post,following this paragraph, nor the alert to correct it above, but after careful review of this editorial, I had to correct the countless grammatical errors at least & some sentence structure & phrasing. That been said, I also feel that this particular analysis is very subjective & not entirely accurate. It is merely the writers interpretation based on their perspective and understanding of Rene Descartes' "Thoughts" embodied by the phrased attributed to him; "I think, therefore I am" Whereas I perceive it to be interpreted more or less that Consciousness makes the man, so to speak. Self Awareness and the fact that we are capable of higher reasoning & thought, means we have truly truly arrived at life, alive. Yet again; I make this disclaimer I am not some professional literary scholar, though I am an aspiring author, deep thinker, philosopher myself, albeit an amateur, so although you may quote me on this, I'll not be responsible for you Failing quiz grades, keep in mind, this is still an openly edited Wiki Forum." PS: What the original author means by "Where are "the" thoughts coming from seems open for interpretation again. I'd suggest he means "Where are "HIS" thoughts coming from? if not of his own mind,though I still feel that is arbitrary to the true meaning implied by Descartes originally. I think really the writer of this interpretation was "overthinking" this & as the not so high class street phrase goes, going around his elbow to get to his A@@$#@! you can fill in the Blanks, thanks for reading with a lighthearted smile & THE "BENEFIT OF DOUBT" Rather. So I'm not "knocking the author & mean no offense I applaud them for their due diligence and clearly articulated focused intelligence, especially if this was homework,for a school project,then that I show all due respect to them. It seems by answering a supposition with another self written supposition is answering a question w/a question. Though even though they have have taken the long scenic route philosophically & not the shortcut,they wind up in the roughly the correct vicinity ultimately. Though having not deeply read into or research Rene Descartes official position on the origin of this phrase myself, I may seem a hypocrite, so I will do my own research & "homework". Yet I feel it's a phrase that doesn't require much interpretation, it's basically self explanatory. Though in closing, I'll say the following. Who's to say that the universe and/or multi-verse isn't conscious & we are the manifestation of it physically to experience itself & therefore everything within it, is self aware, in a loop of repetitive, infinite, streams of constant consciousness? PSS: I'm not quoting anyone in particular, these are all spontaneous original thoughts on this & the thought process of cosmic consciousness itself. "Y(ou're)" the Multiverse Become (wo)man, therefore "y(ou)are". My previous quoted "words" are intentionally misspelled to incite interpretive hidden double meaning. Think for yourselves.

Having established that there are some things which are indubitable and some which also seem evident but could be doubtful,Rene Descartes' subjects all the things he has accepted since infancy to a benefit of doubt.

He again establishes that the senses are at times deceptive and hence, his position as given above.

to be able to do this, Descartes assumes that he has no body and senses and again that there is nothing outside him.

In doing all these things,one thing is clear that although he doubts that   he has a body and senses he could not doubt that he is

He asks that Where are "the" thoughts coming from? Then he supposes that it might have come from someone by whatever name he is called.To this supposition,it can not be true since he himself has assumed already that outside him is nothing. Again he asks that is he himself not capable of producing such thoughts himself? He has also already denied that he has a body. There is only one thing that belongs to him which is the mind and that he exists. He again supposes that there might be a deceiver who is deceiving him. In response to this, if there is a deceiver who is deceiving him,then he exists. Descartes therefore establishes that he thinks therefore that he is ('I think therefore I am').That is he exists('cogito existo')

Note: Secondary editor,reviewing this: "Cogito Existo" as this original author has written here, literally translates to: "I Think I Exist" Using Google Translate, by the way.

another attributed quote[edit]

I've heard this quote attributed to Descartes: "I find your opinion offensive, but I will fight for your right to express" I've also heard that it is not Descartes, but since this might seem like a common misconception maybe that should be included? -- 13:29, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

I've always heard the quote ("I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it") attributed to Voltaire, but Misattributions section at his page here claims he didn't say it, but that it was attributed to him in a 1906 book (in any case, Descartes is not involved). —LrdChaos 20:13, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


This quote:

   * Me tenant comme je suis,un pied dans un pays et l’autre en un autre,je trouve ma condition très heureuse,en ce qu’elle est libre
         o Translation:"'There is no quelling the endless sensationalizations that rationalists try to make things, so in the end, a
           mind is forced to concede to a weaker point.'"
         o from the letter to the Princess of Boemia, Paris 1648

Seems to be a bad translation... it doesn't even look like a paraphrase to me. My French isn't fluent, but it seems like a direct translation would be "I take it as I am, one foot in one country and the other in another, I find my condition very happy, for I am free."

The translation was made by an IP editor on December 29, 2007. It appears, indeed, to have nothing to do with what it is supposedly translating. Looking about for an online translation, I have found two: 1) "Staying as I am, one foot in one country and the other in another, I find my condition very happy, in that it is free"; and 2) "Holding myself as I do with one foot in one country and the other in another, I find my condition a very happy one in that it is free." The first translation is found here and the second translation here. I will replace the erroneous translation with the first of these. - InvisibleSun 09:44, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable, precise and verifiable source for any quote on this list please move it to René Descartes. --Antiquary 20:49, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

  • Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have.
  • larvatus Prodeo
    • translation: I wear a mask
  • Everything is self-evident.
  • The pituitary gland is the seat of the soul.
  • Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.
  • I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake.
  • I am indeed amazed when I consider how weak my mind is and how prone to error.
There's an imperfect match in Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, the fourth-to-last paragraph of the "Second Meditation: The nature of the human mind, and how it is better known than the body", namely, "I am amazed at how prone to error my mind is." —Hugh H. 19:41, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I concluded that I might take as a general rule the principle that all things which we very clearly and obviously conceive are true: only observing, however, that there is some difficulty in rightly determining the objects which we distinctly conceive.
  • I hope that posterity will judge me kindly, not only as to the things which I have explained, but also to those which I have intentionally omitted so as to leave to others the pleasure of discovery.
  • If I found any new truths in the sciences, I can say that they follow from, or depend on, five or six principal problems which I succeeded in solving and which I regard as so many battles where the fortunes of war were on my side.
  • If we possessed a thorough knowledge of all the parts of the seed of any animal (e.g. man), we could from that alone, by reasons entirely mathematical and certain, deduce the whole conformation and figure of each of its members, and, conversely if we knew several peculiarities of this conformation, we would from those deduce the nature of its seed.
  • If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  • Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow.
  • In order to improve the mind, we ought less learn than to contemplate.
    • Variant: In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn, than to contemplate.
  • It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.
  • Mais je ne veux pas examiner ce que d'autres ont su ou ont ignoré. Il me suffira de noter que, quand même toute la science que nous pouvons désirer se trouveroit dans les livres, ce qu'ils renferment de bon est mêlé de tant d'inutilités, et dispersé dans la masse de tant de gros volumes, que pour les lire il faudrait plus de temps que la vie humaine ne nous en donne, et pour y reconnoître ce qui est utile, plus de talent que pour le trouver nous-mêmes.
  • Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.
  • The long concatenations of simple and easy reasoning which geometricians use in achieving their most difficult demonstrations gave me occasion to imagine that all matters which may enter the human mind were interrelated in the same fashion.
  • The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts.
    • Variant: The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.
    • The Discourse on the Method does not have that quote, but it does have the following, which in fact expresses the opposite meaning: "But I believed that I had already given sufficient time to languages, and likewise to the reading of the writings of the ancients, to their histories and fables. For to hold converse with those of other ages and to travel, are almost the same thing. It is useful to know something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgment regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational, a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country."
  • The two operations of our understanding, intuition and deduction, on which alone we have said we must rely in the acquisition of knowledge.
  • To do is to be.
  • To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.
  • Traveling is almost like talking with those of other centuries.
  • When I consider this carefully, I find not a single property which with certainty separates the waking state from the dream. How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream?
  • When it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable.
    • Variant: When it is not in our power to follow what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable.
  • When writing about transcendental issues, be transcendentally clear.
  • Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.
When it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable is a common misquotation from part III of the discourse in method. In Ancient Tragedy and Modern Science, Michael Davis states it thusly: "And thus, the actions of life often not allowing any delay, it is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine the most true opinions we ought to follow the most probable". In the version of the discourse translated by Ian Johnston of Vancouver Island University, it appears as: "And because the actions of life often brook no delay, it is certainly very true that, when it is not in our power to determine the truest opinions, we ought to follow the most probable ones, and even when we see no difference in probability among this group of truths or that one, nevertheless, we have to decide on some for ourselves and then to consider them, not as something doubtful with regard to the practical matter at hand, but as manifestly true and very certain, because the reason which made us choose them has these qualities". I would add it in myself, but I don't know if putting the whole thing in context would make the passage too long for wikiquotes. I don't edit here very often, so I don't know the criteria. -- 10:28, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Weird pseudo-quote[edit]

All over the internet, the following quote is attributed to Descartes:

You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing.

Maybe he said this in his Nike endorsement or something. Anyway, perhaps this should be added to the unsourced area? (That gives the quote more plausibility than it deserves, perhaps.)

I don't edit Wikiquote, so I don't know the guidelines. 13:55, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

No source has been identified for this quotation, and it has also been attributed to Rene McPherson (c. 1925-1996), a corporate chairman and former Dean of Stanford Business School. It seems likely, therefore, to be an error.

Second weird pseudo-quote[edit]

  • Any community that gets its laughs by pretending to be idiots will eventually be flooded by actual idiots who mistakenly believe that they're in good company.
    • Veracity seems quite unlikely. – OttoMäkelä (talk) 08:20, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

The original source for this quote, as far as I can tell, is a Y Combinator user named DarkShikari. See

Descartes on Getting Up Early?[edit]

Years ago I ran across a quote attributed to Descartes, about the time I read his works and was checking out bios of him. I can no longer source it and was wondering if anyone knows where it comes from? I can't remember the exact phrasing, but I recall it was something along the lines of "It's impossible to do good work in mathematics if one is obliged to get up in the morning earlier than one is inclined to." Anyone got any ideas? 09:48, 11 December 2017 (UTC)

This page seems to allude to said statement: [1] ("Descartes... assert[ed] that in order for him to make progress in mathematics, he should never be forced out of bed early.") 09:53, 11 December 2017 (UTC)