Descartes' Discours de la Méthode: Sixième Partie

  • Created by: CaraPW
  • Created on: 18-04-21 17:54
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  • Descartes Ddlm Part 6
    • Publication
      • Never really wanted to write books, but the seeker of truth has a responsibility towards humanity
      • In studying physics, he discovered that its laws serve men well generally, especially in contributing to medicine
      • Publication also has 2 other advantages:        1) It creates a pressure for quality 2) It allows following generations to follow the research – it is good to omit some things that might bring some benefit to the living when it is for the purpose of making others that bring more benefit to new people
      •  Compares the quest for the truth to war – each step forward stimulates the virtuous circle of victory, but it is difficult to bounce back from failure
    • Collective intelligence
      • A collective intelligence exists – we can find the truth together by exchanging and examining ideas together and progressing together, but it never worked with Descartes
      • He doesn’t believe in the epistemological virtue of debate – when someone tries to prevail their point of view, they only care about verisimilitude and loses sight of the truth
      • You must be a lawyer in a debate but to find the truth you must be a judge
      •  This is a criticism of the disputatio method practised in the medieval universities to test opinions – he thinks it is fundamentally corrupted in that it focuses on plausibility rather than truth
      • Believes that it is the author of ideas who communicates them best because others risk distorting them
      •  Commentators on the great philosophers are like blind people who pull their opponents into a cellar to fight – they don’t see, so want to make darkness the human condition
      •  It is more useful to find truth individually using one’s own trusted method than to receive ideas from a professor
      • His theses are purely out of his reason, they are the oldest that it is possible to conceive since they are inscribed in reason itself
      • He doesn’t want traditional disciples, because a true disciple, in his eyes, must be able to find principles themselves
    • experiments
      • He experiments simply in 3 stages:        1) He identifies the primary causes in the material world      2) He examines the most ordinary effects of these causes  3) He tries to re-attach them to the principles he proposed, which the result of the experiments must confirm or refute
      • The more we advance in knowledge, the more experiments are necessary
      •   He’s annoyed that he can’t lead most experiments himself, and prefers to pay craftsmen to assist him because those who want to help him voluntarily waste his time
      •  Also, a question of money, the publication of the book itself needs to find generous donators
    • Why is he writing?
      •  He doesn’t search for glory but for tranquillity
      • Writes (supposedly) to dispel the prejudice that he has something to hide
      •  Also needs outside help to speed up the pace of his research, because he wants to devote the rest of his life to advancing medicine
      • He needs money – perhaps why he takes care of relationship with readers, he wants them to pay close attention to the method, and even suggested they send their objections to his bookseller
      •      Addresses everyone but particularly the man of bon sens because he writes in French, the language of science and academia rather than Latin, the language of the church 
      • By addressing all those who have not received instruction, Descartes takes the side of common sense against that of authority, of reason against memory.


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