Classical Works

Nichomachean Ethics

“One swallow does not make a summer; neither does one day. Similarly neither can one day, or a brief space of time, make a man blessed and happy.” Aristotle sets out to examine the nature of happiness, and argues that happiness consists in ‘activity of the soul in accordance with virtue’, including moral virtues, such as courage, generosity and justice, and intellectual virtues, such as knowledge, wisdom and insight. The Ethics also discusses the nature of practical reasoning, the value and the objects of pleasure, the different forms of friendship, and the relationship between individual virtue, society and the State. Aristotle’s work has had a profound and lasting influence on all subsequent Western thought about ethical matters.

Fr. Vincent Babu OFM Cap

1. Nichomachean Ethics_compressed.pdf

Meditations of the First Philosophy

Meditations on First Philosophy, in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated (Latin: Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animæ immortalitas demonstratur) is a philosophical treatise by René Descartes first published in Latin in 1641. The French translation (by the Duke of Luynes with Descartes' supervision) was published in 1647 as Méditations Métaphysiques. The title may contain a misreading by the printer, mistaking animae immortalitas for animae immaterialitas, as suspected by A. Baillet.

The book is made up of six meditations, in which Descartes first discards all belief in things that are not absolutely certain, and then tries to establish what can be known for sure. He wrote the meditations as if he had meditated for six days: each meditation refers to the last one as "yesterday". One of the most influential philosophical texts ever written, it is widely read to this day.

The book consists of the presentation of Descartes' metaphysical system in its most detailed level and in the expanding of his philosophical system, first introduced in the fourth part of his Discourse on Method (1637). Descartes' metaphysical thought is also found in the Principles of Philosophy (1644), which the author intended to be a philosophical guidebook.

Fr. Vincent Babu OFM Cap

2. Meditations of the First Philosophy - Descartes_compressed.pdf
3. Descartes Meditations _ Critique of Pure Reason_compressed.pdf

Critique of Pure Reason

Kant builds on the work of empiricist philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume, as well as rationalist philosophers such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Christian Wolff. He expounds new ideas on the nature of space and time, and tries to provide solutions to the skepticism of Hume regarding knowledge of the relation of cause and effect and that of René Descartes regarding knowledge of the external world. This is argued through the transcendental idealism of objects (as appearance) and their form of appearance.

Kant regards the former "as mere representations and not as things in themselves", and the latter as "only sensible forms of our intuition, but not determinations given for themselves or conditions of objects as things in themselves". This grants the possibility of a priori knowledge, since objects as appearance "must conform to our cognition ... which is to establish something about objects before they are given to us". Knowledge independent of experience Kant calls "a priori" knowledge, while knowledge obtained through experience is termed "a posteriori". According to Kant, a proposition is a priori if it is necessary and universal. A proposition is necessary if it could not possibly be false, and so cannot be denied without contradiction. A proposition is universal if it is true in all cases, and so does not admit of any exceptions. Knowledge gained a posteriori through the senses, Kant argues, never imparts absolute necessity and universality, because it is always possible that we might encounter an exception.

Fr. Vincent Babu OFM Cap

4. Critique of Pure Reason_compressed.pdf