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0 - 4 - Note on the text and the translation

0 - 4 - Note on the text and the translation - Note on the...

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Note on the text and the translation Descartes' most celebrated philosophical work was written in Latin during the period 1638-1640, when the philosopher was living, for the most part, at Santpoort. The “corner of north Holland”, he wrote to Mersenne on 27 May 1638, was much more suitable for his work than the “air of Paris” and its “vast number of inevitable distractions”. The work was completed by April 1640, and was first published in Paris in 1641 by Michel Soly under the title Meditationes de Prima Philosophia ( Meditations on First Philosophy ); the subtitle adds “in which are demonstrated the existence of God and the immortality of the soul”. In earlier correspondence Descartes had referred to his work as the Metaphysics , but he eventually deided that “the most suitable title is Meditations on First Philosophy , because the discussion is not confined to God and the soul but treats in general of all the first things to be discovered by philosophizing (Letter to Mersenne of 11 November 1640). Descartes was not entirely satisfied with Soly as a publisher, and he arranged for a second edition of the Meditations to be brought out in Holland, by the house of Elzevir of Amsterdam. This second edition appeared in 1642, with a new and more appropriate subtitle, viz . “in which are demonstrated the existence of God and the distinction between the human soul and the body”. The second edition contains a number of minor corrections to the text (though in practice the sense is seldom affected), and except where indicated it is this edition that is followed in the present translation.
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