Discourse on Method
See also: Method
The Discourse on Method (subtitle for leading its reason well, and seeking the truth in sciences ), published in 1637, is the first philosophical text written by Rene Descartes.
This text was written directly in French by Descartes, which wanted to be thus opposed to the tradition Scolastique which had as a practice to write in Latin. The Discourse on Method is thus the first philosophical work written in French.
Descartes said of its speech that he wanted it accessible “even to the women”. In this short speech divided into six parts, Descartes exposes its philosophy according to which it is necessary to doubt very to establish all the truths which do not resist the doubt. Thus, with like enemy precipitation and the prejudices, he hopes to be able to found a morals stable and accepted of all.
It is in this speech that one finds celebrates it sentence “I thus think I am” ( Cogito, ergo sum ), it is the base of any thing, the first thing which one cannot doubt: I can doubt very safe my capacity to think.
Descartes breaks with the tradition Antique and Judéo-chrétienne of the Philosophie. He judges the “speculative” Scolastique too much and declares that the men must “go as Masters and owners of nature” (left Life).
This work had a very great success, and was studied regularly in class of Philosophie in France.
Context of the publication
The Discourse on Method was written by Descartes a few years after the lawsuit of Galileo (June 1633), about his work Dialog on the two great systems of the world , which had been condemned by the Church.
First partThe Discourse on Method opens on the famous sentence " the good sense is the thing of the world best the partagée". Descartes explains us in this first part that the good sense (or power or capacity to judge) are also distributed at each to be human, but depends on the way in which each Individu uses this faculty. It is that even which creates the divergence of the opinions.
Descartes underlines its interest for all the Sciences; the Poetry, Mathematical , writings of old pagan, the Theology, the Philosophy… like its research in the most foreign thoughts and nonconformists of the time, although it could pass for stupid, in order to be made its own judgment of it. He denounces nevertheless sciences as superstitious as the Astrologie, the Alchimie, the Magie…
It is while being based on this so various knowledge, also acquired at the time of voyages, that Descartes learns how to consolidate its knowledge, while not forgetting to extract from its sources the truth of the forgery. It should however be understood that it starts with irony, because the good sense, does not make it possible to reach the truth.
Second partLocked up in its stove, Descartes establishes a return to its Pensée and its Subjectivité acquired in its youth without wanting to worry about the already founded Principes. This return to the Raison seems necessary to him, with the image of a city built on the one hand by men of reason, who founded the first irregular lanes, guided by fortune and the will, and on the other hand, by some insane architects , who built the great places, guided by imagination and the size. For Descartes, it is about an evolution; that of the passage of a Natural concept (divine) simple and objective with that of a concept modelled by subjectivity and the Artificial , become too complex.
Descartes thus prepares to call in question all the concepts which he knows, so that nothing subjective or whimsical comes to pollute its thought, with the profit of the unconditional reason; with this intention, it is essential four precepts:
- not to receive any thing for true as long as its spirit will have clearly and distinctly assimilated it beforehand.
- To sort its difficulties in order to better examine them and solve them.
- To establish an order of thoughts, while starting with simplest until most complex and various.
- to retain Them all and in order.
Descartes initially successfully applied these precepts for the rules of Arithmétique, before reaching an enough ripe age to apply them to the Philosophie.
Third partDescartes works out a moral by provision , consisted of four maxims, in order to direct its thoughts and its actions in a way right:
In first, while keeping its critical spirit, it must trust above all with the opinions " of best judicious and with which I would have to live " but also the most moderated, " any excess having habit to be bad ".
- As a second, it acts to be " firmest and more solved in my actions which I could, and less constantly not to follow not the most doubtful opinions when I would once have been determined there, that if they had been very assured ". This in order to have clear conscience in its acts.
- the third maxim consists nothing to wish or change moreover than what it cannot, knowing that only its thought and its body of it are able (satisfaction in the Humilité); " to change my desires that the order of the world ".
- the fourth maxim, known as Descartes, it is " to employ all my life to cultivate my reason, and to advance me as much as I could in the knowledge of the Vérité, according to the method that I had been prescribed ".
After that, Descartes undertook a voyage which lasted nine years, to observe, seek the truth, and to uproot the Generally accepted ideas. He did not devote himself however yet to philosophy, but forged solids Idées.
Fourth partDescartes reconsiders all that it knows during Méditations metaphysics; any object, any thing and very thought become false then and Illusoire. However, since all is illusory, he wonders how to know with certainty that there exists itself, that it is not itself Néant. For Descartes, the simple fact of putting this question brings it at once to an unquestionable answer; " I think, therefore I am ". He judged this sentence like the undeniable first Principe of the philosophy which he sought.
He establishes then the concept of duality of the heart and the body: what makes be human, it is its spirit; this " Substance of which all the Gasoline or the Nature is to only think, and who to be does not need any place nor of any material thing ". Then it comes from there to think that the Perfection of this acquired knowledge ( Cogito, ergo sum ) came from something of outside to itself. It then put forward the idea that the elements of nature were existing, and understood that its clean Conscience had been insufflated to him by nature, by a whole whose each things depended the ones on the others. This whole, it was God; perfection, the immutable one, the Infinite , the eternal, the knowing whole, the powerful whole , in opposition to nothing, and other things like the Doubt, inconstancy, sadness…
Its conviction that God exists is as sure as the demonstrations of Géométrie then do not mean anything any more. He hustles also the principal idea which one had of God. Descartes notices that one inculcates too much to seek to know God by the direction of the eyes and imagination, which is vain and folk. However he adds that, since all things, all thought and all dreams are insufflated by God, they are potentially true, but that it always should be taken guard well that the judgment does not fall into imagination and the Imagination.
Fifth partDescartes comes here to speak about the physical principles which rise naturally from the principles metaphysics of which it treats in the preceding parts.
It exposes to it in particular its theory on the blood circulation which it explains as having with the dilation of heat in the Cœur.
Lastly, it is in this part that it informs us of his famous theory of the " animals-machine" , i.e. as being organic beings completely stripped of reasons and acting only according to the provision of their bodies.
For him, the man is the only gifted being of a heart.
- “But, as soon as that I acquired some general concepts concerning the Physique, and that, starting to test them into various difficulties particular, I have noticed jusques where they can to lead, and how much they differ from the principles of which one was useful oneself jusques now, I believed that I pouvois to hold them hidden without sinning largely against the law which obliges us to get as much as it in us the general good of all the men is: because they showed to me that it is possible to arrive to connoissances which are extremely useful for the life; and that instead of this speculative philosophy that one teaches in the schools, one can about it find a practice, by which, connoissant the force and the actions of fire, water, the air, the stars, the skies, and all the other bodies which surround us, as distinctly as we connoissons the various trades of our craftsmen, we could employ them in same way with all the uses to which they are clean, and thus return to us as Masters and owners of nature. What is not only to wish for the invention of an infinity of artifices, which feroient that one jouiroit without any sorrow of the fruits of the ground and all the conveniences which are there, but mainly also for the conservation of the health, which is undoubtedly the first good and the base of all the other goods of this life; because even Spirit depends so extremely on temperament and on provision of bodies of body, that, if it is possible to be able some which commonly makes the men wiser and more skilful than they were not jusques here, I believe that it is in medicine that one must seek it. ”
The Discourse on Method was taught very regularly in the course of philosophy in the classes of final in France.
Certain authors, like Jean Bastaire, think that the formula “to return to us as Masters and owners of nature”, introduced a phantasm Prométhée N, which deformed the relationship between the man and nature such as it was presented in the Écritures (see Théologie of nature).
Discourse on Method: full text.
- Discourse on Method, audio version
- Relation between science and faith
- Theology of nature
- the Being and Nothing of Jean-Paul Sartre
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