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Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen:
The Defense of Reason in Descartes's Meditations
Harry G. Frankfurt
With a new foreword by Rebecca Goldstein
and a new preface by the author

Paperback | 2007 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691134161
288 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400828180 |
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In this classic work, best-selling author Harry Frankfurt provides a compelling analysis of the question that not only lies at the heart of Descartes's Meditations, but also constitutes the central preoccupation of modern philosophy: on what basis can reason claim to provide any justification for the truth of our beliefs? Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen provides an ingenious account of Descartes's defense of reason against his own famously skeptical doubts that he might be a madman, dreaming, or, worse yet, deceived by an evil demon into believing falsely.

Frankfurt's masterful and imaginative reading of Descartes's seminal work not only stands the test of time; one imagines Descartes himself nodding in agreement.


"Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen is a classic. At long last it is available to a new generation of readers who, whether they agree or disagree with Frankfurt's views, are sure to come away from his book exhilarated and enlightened."--Janet Broughton, University of California, Berkeley

"One of the smartest books on Descartes in the literature in any language. But it is not only an important contribution to the history of philosophy; Frankfurt also gives us new perspectives on knowledge and truth that have remained as fresh and lively as when they were first published."--Dan Garber, Princeton University

Table of Contents:

Foreword by Rebecca Goldstein vii
Preface to the Princeton Edition xiii
Preface xvii

CHAPTER 1: Introduction 3
CHAPTER 2: The General Overthrow of Belief 19
CHAPTER 3: The Criterion of Doubt 32
CHAPTER 4: The Perception of the Physical World 43
CHAPTER 5: The Strategy of the First Meditation 60
CHAPTER 6: Simple and Universal Things 75
CHAPTER 7: Mathematics in the First Meditation 84
CHAPTER 8: Mathematics and the Omnipotent Deceiver 93
CHAPTER 9: Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen 108

CHAPTER 11: Sum res cogitans 154
CHAPTER 12: Clear and Distinct Perception 175
CHAPTER 13: Objections to Descartes's Rule of Evidence 200
CHAPTER 14: Memory and Doubt 215
CHAPTER 15: The Validation of Reason 235
CHAPTER 16: Truth and Reality: The Galileo Controversy 250

Index 257

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