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Discourse on Method

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By far the most widely used translation in North American college classrooms, Donald A. Cress's translation from the French of the Adam and Tannery critical edition is prized for its accuracy, elegance, and economy. The translation featured in the Third Edition has been thoroughly revised from the 1979 First Edition and includes page references to the critical edition for ease of comparison.

58 pages, Paperback

First published June 8, 1637

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About the author

René Descartes

760 books1,879 followers
René Descartes, also known as Renatus Cartesius (Latinized form), was a highly influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. He has been dubbed the "Father of Modern Philosophy," and much of subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which continue to be studied closely. His influence in mathematics is also apparent, the Cartesian coordinate system that is used in plane geometry and algebra being named for him, and he was one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution.

Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, he goes so far as to assert that he will write on his topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like St. Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the Schools on two major points: First, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends — divine or natural — in explaining natural phenomena. In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God’s act of creation.

Descartes was a major figure in 17th century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes founded analytic geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the invention of calculus and analysis. Descartes' reflections on mind and mechanism began the strain of Western thought that much later, impelled by the invention of the electronic computer and by the possibility of machine intelligence, blossomed into the Turing test and related thought. His most famous statement is: Cogito ergo sum (French: Je pense, donc je suis; English: I think, therefore I am), found in §7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy (Latin) and in part IV of Discourse on the Method (French).

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Profile Image for Orhan Pelinkovic.
86 reviews150 followers
October 1, 2020
The writing in the book is very accessible and the language used comprehensible, yet the content is dense with a deep insightful meaning. The Discourse on the Method (1637) is written by the revered French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650).

Descartes claims that the capacity of having a good sense is equally distributed among humans, and the capability to make sound judgments is a natural ability that all people possess. But it's not enough to just have this ability; we have to use it properly. In order to advance as individuals the key is to implement a proper method of thought so we can form better opinions and arrive at the right conclusions.

It seems that Descartes only finds limited knowledge in all the different fields of study, such as philosophy, medicine, mathematics, history, law, and others. This leaves him unsatisfied and drives him to look elsewhere, and in the end, he decides to look within and study himself in seeking the real truth.

Descartes procedure of thought initially requires him to doubt everything in order to free his mind of any previous convictions and assumptions. By following a set of steps and principles, Descartes, clears his mind by doubting all earlier held beliefs other than his own existence, because the act of being able to doubt ones existence, proves the existence of ones mind, therefore ones existence. This is how Descartes arrives at his conclusion "I think, therefore I am" which he considers an important and necessary truth.

Descartes believes that the method he prescribes will lead us to properly differentiate truth from falsity and will result in arriving at other truths about the natural world.

He has formulated this method for himself, for his own use, and others are welcomed to use it if they desire. Descartes doesn't want to be intrusive and force his method of reasoning upon anyone. He also presents himself as just an ordinary individual. There is this sense you get that the modesty he employs in his writing at times seems sincere, but occasionally it comes off a bit exaggerated.

I did notice that there are some similarities of Descartes method to Galileo Galilei's scientific method. On another note, there is evidence that Descartes was frightened for his own life when he received the news of Galileo's imprisonment for heresy. As a result, Descartes proves, in the last one third of the book, God’s existence, and that the theological teachings are correct. This part was less argumentatively convincing than the first two thirds of the book. All in all, the method is brilliant and revolutionary. It's a must read for all.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
June 18, 2021
Discours de la Méthode = Discourse on Method, René Descartes

Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences is a philosophical and autobiographical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637.

It is best known as the source of the famous quotation "I think, therefore I am", or "I am thinking, therefore I exist", which occurs in Part IV of the work.

In this work, Descartes tackles the problem of skepticism, which had previously been studied by other philosophers.

While addressing some of his predecessors and contemporaries, Descartes modified their approach to account for a truth he found to be incontrovertible; he started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so as to assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of any preconceived notions.

The book is divided into six parts, described in the author's preface as:

Part I: Various considerations touching the Sciences.

Part II: The principal rules of the Method which the Author has discovered.

Part III: Certain of the rules of Morals which he has deduced from this Method.

Part IV: The reasonings by which he establishes the existence of God and of the Human Soul.

Part V: The order of the Physical questions which he has investigated, and, in particular, the explication of the motion of the heart and of some other difficulties pertaining to Medicine, as also the difference between the soul of man and that of the brutes.

Part VI: What the Author believes to be required in order to greater advancement in the investigation of Nature than has yet been made, with the reasons that have induced him to write.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش سال 1966میلادی

عنوان: گ‍ف‍ت‍ار در روش‌ درس‍ت‌ راه‌ ب‍ردن‌ ع‍ق‍ل‌، و ج‍س‍ت‍ج‍وی‌ ح‍ق‍ی‍ق‍ت‌ در ع‍ل‍وم‌؛ نویسنده: رن‍ه‌ دک‍ارت‌؛ ب‍رگ‍ردان‌ م‍ح‍م‍دع‍ل‍ی‌ ف‍روغ‍ی‌؛ (نخستین بار به همراه جلد اول سیر حکمت در اروپا منتشر شد، در مطبعه مجلس در سال 1310)؛ چاپ گودرزی 1317؛ کانون تالیف و ترجمه، 1327 در 89ص؛ به صورت جداگانه کتابهای جیبی 1342؛ در 162ص؛ پیام، 1355، چاپ دوم در 91ص؛ انتشارات علمی فرهنگی، چاپ دوم 1394، در 103ص؛ شابک 9786001214868؛ تهران، نیایش، 1395؛ در 174ص؛ شابک 9789649286501؛ به کوشش علی‌رضا سپهری؛ م‍ش‍ه‍د: م‍ه‍ر دام‍ون‌‏‫، 1385؛ در 136ص؛ شابک 9649651713؛ نشر مرکز، 1397، در 128ص؛ شابک 9789642134144؛موضوع روش شناسی از نویسندگان فرانسه - سده 17م

برگردان روانشاد «محمدعلی فروغی» از این کتاب «دکارت»، بارها تجدیدچاپ شده است؛ یکی از برهانهای انتشار چندین‌ باره را ترجمه ی خوب و روان روانشاد «فروغی» از این کتاب می‌دانند؛ به گفته خود «دکارت»، بازگویی سرگذشت روحانی ایشانست، و برگردان روانشاد «محمدعلی فروغی» نیز تناسب خوبی با یک متن سرنوشت‌ نگاری دارد؛

نقل از متن: (اما من اگر همواره تنها یک استاد داشته، یا اختلاف عقایدی را که همه‌ وقت میان فضلا بوده، درنیافته بودم، همانا از گروه دوم می‌بودم؛ لیکن از همان روزهای مدرسه، دانستم که هیچ اندیشه ی عجیب و رأی سخیفی نیست، که یکی از فیلسوفان آن را اظهار نکرده باشد؛ سپس هنگام جهانگردی دریافتم که مردمانی که افکارشان از ما بسی دور است، همه بی‌تربیت یا وحشی نیستند؛ بلکه بسیاری از آن‌ها به اندازه ی ما، و بیش از ما قوه تعقل به کار می‌برند، و نیز برخوردم به این‌که یک‌تن چون از کودکی، میان «فرانسویان» یا «آلمانیان»، پرورده شود، به‌ کلی فرق دارد با آن‌که با همان طبع و همان ذهن، میان «چینیان»، یا «آدم‌خواران» زیست کند؛ تا آن‌جا که در شیوه ی جامعه و زندگانی مردم، آن‌چه ده سال پیش پسندیده بود، و شاید ده سال بعد نیز، مرغوب خواهد بود، اکنون غریب و رکیک نمی‌نماید؛ پس دانستم اختیارات ما بیش‌تر مبنی بر عادت و تقلید است، نه بر یقین و تحقیق، و نسبت به حقایقی که کشف آن‌ها دشوار است، کثرت آرا مناط اعتبار نتواند بود؛ چه‌ احتمال دریافت حقیقت برای یک‌تن، بیش از یک گروه است؛ پس به این دلایل در نظر من، هیچ‌کس نبود که عقاید او را، بتوانم بر دیگران ترجیح دهم، و ناچار شدم خود در صدد کشف طریق برآیم

اما مانند کسی که تنها در تاریکی راه می‌پیماید، بر آن شدم، که بسیار آرام گام بردارم، و در هر باب احتیاطِ تمام به کار برم، تا اگر آهسته پیش می‌روم باری از افتادن، مصون باشم؛ حتی این‌که نخواستم، نفی هیچ‌یک از عقایدی را، که سابقا بی‌تحقیق در ذهنم جا یافته بود، آغاز کنم؛ مگر این‌که از پیش، با تانی و طول مدت لازم، طرح کاری را که در پیش گرفته بودم ریخته، و راه صحیح را برای رسیدن به معرفت آن‌چه ذهنم بر آن قادر است، یافته باشم

هنگامی که جوان‌تر بودم، از ابواب فلسفه به منطق، و از ریاضیات به جبر و مقابله و تحلیل هندسی، بیش‌تر دل داده بودم، و این سه فن یا علم را، چنان می‌پنداشتم، که به مقصود من یاری خواهند کرد؛ اما چون درست تأمل نمودم، درباره ی منطق برخوردم به این‌که فایده ی عمده قیاسات، و بیش‌ترِ تعلیماتِ دیگرش، این نیست که آدمی چیزی را که نمی‌داند دریابد؛ بلکه آن است که بتواند آن‌چه را می‌داند، به دیگری بفهماند، یا مانند «فن ریمول لول»، از آن‌چه نمی‌داند بی‌تصور و تصدیق گفت‌وگو کند، و هرچند در واقع دستورهای صحیحِ نیکو بسیار دارد، اما چنان با مطالب پرضرر یا حشو و زوائد آمیخته است، که جدا کردن مفید آن‌ها از مضر، به‌ همان دشواری است، که کسی بخواهد از یک پارچه سنگِ مرمرِ ناهموار، پیکر «دیان» یا «مینِروْ» بسازد)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 27/03/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for سيد محمد .
271 reviews462 followers
January 27, 2023
إعمال العقل
بعد البرامج المدرسية ومطالعة التاريخ الفكري للأمم
بعد قراءة الأدب واستخلاص الرؤى المتنوعة التي تتشكل منها منظومة شاملة للشعور الإنساني والعلاقات الاجتماعية
بعد استقراء قوانين التحضر
بدأ ديكارت في قراءة ذاته وقراءة صفحات الكتاب الكوني الكبير
تمسك بمبادئ أخلاقية لا بحيد عنها تحقق له الاستقرار النفسي، وتوفر له المناخ الصحي لصياغة منهج قراءة للعلوم
التصالح مع العالم، والتأمل، والعزلة وقت العمل، وإنكار الذات
ووضع قانون رؤيته أنا أفكر إذن انا موجود
وحدد أسس النظر المنهجي
اليقين العام الذي يدرك به وجوده العقلي
قواعد احترام العقل لدخول عصر العلم بحرية ذهنية تتيح للحضارة التحليق برسوخ محكم لاكتشاف الكون وخدمة الإنسانية
الكتاب كان مقررا على طلبة الفرقة الثالثة بكلية الإداب بالجامعة المصرية في ثلاثينيات القرن العشرين
المترجم محمود محمد الخضيري وضع منهجه في نقل النص إلى العربية بوضوح فطالع الترجمات اللاتينية والإنجليزية والألمانية، وأفاد من مصطلحات الفلاسفة العرب، وصاغ الكتاب بأدبية صياغة ناصعة، وحقق المصطلحات بالشروح في هوامش تفصيلية
من هذا السياق تعلم نجيب محفوظ معنى المشروع الفكري للذات
فهو ابن الجامعة في ذاك العصر
Profile Image for Sarah Far.
163 reviews329 followers
November 15, 2021
اولین درس فلسفه اینه که تورو قوی کنه در برابرِ آن‌چیزی که تورو از فکر کردن باز میداره...
اگر دیدید کسی فلسفه می‌خوونه اون‌هم به تنهایی... سعی کنید باهاش در موردش صحبت کنید، حتی اگر نمیدونه، راهنماییش کنید.

کسی که مطالعه‌ی فلسفه داره، فقط خووندن کتاب مطرح نیست، بلکه یک‌ جهان‌ گسترده‌ای داره که ظاهرش خووندن کتابه...

کسی که فلسفه می‌خوونه، حتما عجیب‌وغریب نیست و ممکنه خیلی چیزهارو ندونه (که به‌‌حقیقت به حرف گهربار سقراط برمی‌گرده)، و این شیوه‌ی خودش رو داره که یکی مثل من تازه اول راهه و باید خیلی‌چیزارو یاد بگیره.

کسی که فلسفه می‌خوونه قرار نیست باهوش باشه، اما کنجکاوه، نسبت به سوالاتی که تمام ذهن و دنیاش رو گرفته و گمان می‌کنه می‌توونه از طریق فلسفه به بعضی سوالاتش برسه.
خود دکارت میگه:

از فلسفه چیزی نمی‌گویم، جز اینکه می‌دیدم با آنکه از چندین قرن نفوس ممتاز بدان سرگرم بوده‌اند، هیچ قضیه‌ای از آن نیست که موضوع مباحثه و مجادله و بنابراین مشکوک نباشد و به خود آن‌چنان غرور نداشتم که امیدوار باشم در این باب برخوردار از دیگران شوم...

بیایم درس اول رو از دکارت باهم یاد بگیریم:
نخست اینکه هیچ‌گاه هیچ‌چیز را حقیقت نپندارم جز اینکه آنچه درستی آن بر من بدیهی شود، یعنی از شتابزدگی و سبق ذهن سخت بپرهیزیم و چیزی را به تصدیق نپذیرم مگر آنکه در ذهنم چنان روشن و متمایز گردد که جای هیچ‌گونه شکی باقی نماند.

هیچ‌چیزی نمی‌توان در مورد کتاب گفت جز آنکه نکته���ی اصلی کتاب را (اینکه چگونه دکارت به این جمله رسید) بنویسم:
من هستم پس می‌اندیشم

گاهی اوقات حس ما خطا می‌کند و ما را به اشتباه می‌اندازد، فرض کردم که هیچ اموری در جهان در واقع چنان نیست که حواس به تصور ما درمی‌آورند و چون کسانی هستند که در مقام استدلال حتی در مسائل سادهٔ هندسه به خطا می‌روند و استدلال غلط می‌کنند و برای من هم مانند مردم دیگر خطا جایز است، پس همهٔ دلایلی را که پیش از این برهان پنداشته بودم، غلط انگاشته‌ام و چون هم عوالمی که به بیداری برای ما دست می‌دهد در خواب هم پیش می‌آید ، در صورتی که هیچ‌یک از آن‌ها در آن‌حال حقیقت ندارد، بنا را بر این گذاشتم که فرض کنم هرچه هروقت به ذهن من آمده، مانند توهماتی که در خواب برای مردم دست می‌دهد، بی‌حقیقت است، ولیکن همان دم برخوردم به اینکه در همین هنگام که من بنا را بر موهوم بودن همه‌چیز گذاشته‌ام، شخص خودم که این فکر را می‌کنم ناچار باید چیزی باشم و توجه کردم که این قضیه
می‌اندیشم پس هستم
(یا فکر دارم پی وجود دارم) حقیقتی است چنان استوار و پابرجا که جمیع فرض‌های غریب و عجیب شکاکان هم نمی‌تواند آن را متزلزل کند، پس معتقد شدم که بی‌تأمل می‌توانم آن را در فلسفه‌ای که در پی آن هستم، اصل نخستین قرار دهم.

باقی کتاب در مورد چگونه عقل را به کار بردن در مسائل علمی،فلسفی و گفتگوست...
و من فکر می‌کنم زیربنای فرهنگ اروپا از خرد دکارت گرفته شده.

اما اینکه چگونه باید سخنان دکارت را نقد کرد کاری‌ست کارستان که فلاسفه‌ی بعدی این کار را می‌کنند.

این کتاب رو بدون هیچ پیش‌نیازی می‌توونید بخوونید.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.9k followers
August 25, 2010
3.0 to 3.5 stars (though as mentioned below, the first four sections get 4 to 5 stars).

One of the most influential works in history of modern science/philosophy, the full name of the work is "Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences." It is a work that deals with the ascertaining of knowledge from "first principals" and creates a method from which all research into scientific principals could be based.

He begins by saying that because so many different (and contradictory) theories have been set forth by learned and great men that it is impossible to "trust" anything that you can not verify yourself based on your own observations. This skepticism of all that has come before was the cornerstone for modern scientific thinking and experimentation to prove results.

Highlights of this very short work are as follows:

THE METHOD: In Section II, Descartes defines the "Method" he will use to estblish knowledge of the world as the following four steps: (1) Be skeptical of everything and do not accept anything as "truth" until you can be certain of its correctness and completely free from doubt; (2) divide each problem into the smallest parts possible so that you can be looking at its component parts which will be the easiest to understand (3) start from most basic concept and add complexity slowly and in degrees so that you can be absolutely certain of each step along the way and (4) from your use of (1) through (3) create general rules applicable to the whole of the subject and that apply to the largest possible group.

THE MORALS: In applying the Method, Descartes in Section III identifies 3 maxims (which ge calls morals) that he will adhere to in his studies: (1) obey the laws of his Country (2) be firm and resolute in the pursuit of knowledge and (3) conquer self rather than fortune (by which he means don't pursue truth based on your own material advantage lest you avoid a line of reasoning that may be true but would lead to a disadvantage for you. In other words, truth should be your only goal.

APPLICATION OF THE METHOD: In Section IV, Descartes applies the Method and derives the basic truth of his existence by stating the famous line "Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am). He also goes on to prove the existence of God. This last "proof" is the most controversial aspect of the work and is called the negotiable ontological proof of the existence of God.

Up through the end of Section IV, I would have given this 4 or 5 stars as it was both a important work and written such that it could be easily understood. Section 5 and 6 (the last half of this very short work) seemed to me to be very "muddled" and uninteresting and dealt with the difference between man and animals and the working of the human circulatory system. The meat of the work in is the first 4 sections and that is what I would recommend to anyone interested in the history of scientific and philosophical thought. Definitely, an important work.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,668 followers
February 25, 2017
“...the perusal of all excellent books is, as it were, to interview with the noblest men of past ages, who have written them.”
― René Descartes, Discourse on Method


There are certain books that are hugely influential and fantastic reads. This one was hugely influential. In many ways modern science (and philosophy) owes a great deal to some of the frameworks, methods, and rationalities posited by Descartes in this book. Hell, even the idea of starting off skeptical and building from there owes a large debt to Descartes. It isn't, however, a perfect book. Some of his "proofs" of God and the immortality of the spirit are a bit shaky (like his understanding of the functioning of the heart). But those are quibbles, minor imperfections, in a work that probably deserves to stand next to classics such as: Darwin's The Origin of Species for biology, Newton's The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy for science, and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for mainstreaming French cuisine.

I cook, therefore I eat.

When you reduce and clarify Descartes down, you are left with a lonely method of skimming off those things you can't prove, and a sticky relationship with God.

Bon Appétit!
Bon Pensées!
446 reviews61 followers
August 4, 2020
Un libro de la literatura universal del que se pueden rescatar varios puntos importantes, entre ellos la búsqueda de un verdadero método para llegar al conocimiento de todas las cosas mediante 4 preceptos:

1° no admitir como verdadera cosa alguna, como no supiese con evidencia que lo es.
2° dividir cada una de las dificultades que examinaré en cuantas partes fuere posible.
3° conducir ordenadamente mis pensamientos, comenzando por los objetos más simples y más fáciles de conocer, para ir ascendiendo, poco a poco, hasta el conocimiento de los mas compuestos.
4° hacer unos recuentos tan integrales que llegase a estar seguro de no omitir nada más.

Y salvo estos y unos pocos puntos que son rescatables de la obra, resulta un texto que no ha envejecido muy bien ya que muchas ideas son obsoletas, pero es interesante leer un texto de casi 400 años donde ya se buscaba un método para llegar a la verdad de las cosas mediante el uso de la razón.
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June 20, 2016
I concede the point: my entire philosophical raison d'être orbits around the deconstruction of the false dualism unleashed upon the world by René. Though, albeit, alas, perhaps it is unfair to blame him entirely, seeing as the Greeks started it, and considering that R. was most likely just articulating an ethos since embodied by “Western” (European) civilization.

Dualism: the idea of separation, articulation, and demarcation, specifically into a binary framework, is the essential construct grounding “Western” progressive thought (kind of like binary mathematics is the language of digital machines; the parallel is not coincidental). The essence of dualism lies in making a distinction, differentiating between two. Such distinctions seem at first, superficially, to occur naturally in lived experience: night and day, woman and man, left and right, cold and hot, future and present; historically these differentiations have been embedded in habitual actions and ideas about morality: good and bad, moral and immoral. Upon closer inspection, of course, experience is not dual in the least: sex is not binary, our perception of space is constituted of more than directionality, while our experience of time is bound up in the present and encompasses both history (past) and hope (future). Yet dual interpretations of experience have reigned in our imaginations for thousands of years.

The Age of Reason. In its essence, dualistic thought makes distinctions; such distinctions constitute the mechanics of “Western” reason. Logical versus irrational thought, knowledge versus opinion, empirical fact versus experience: reason is born of and enabled by an intricate delineation of opposing forces, one of which is always considered superior: mind over body, logic over poetry, linear argument over cyclical interrogation. Thus at the core of dualism lies an inherent judgment, that one of the two is differentiated as inadequate, unnecessary, superfluous, or inferior. Knowledge wins over Meaning. Reason over Art. Mind over Body. Man over Woman. Analysis over Synthesis.

The dualism which punctures Western reason has furthered an almost compulsive race for the “truth” (versus semblance, or illusion); the truth is pursued through the collection of distinguishable facts, labeled “knowledge,” which is to be empirically verified, quantitatively measured, objectively classified, and so forth. In the classrooms of today, for example, this belief manifests as standards centered on collections of knowledge to be mastered, as quantitative measures of student progress and teacher effectiveness, and as the glorification of “cognitive” tasks over social, emotional, or bodied experiences. Dualism reigns at every level of our social, cultural fabric and material realities – it’s not just a philosophical remnant of a time long past.

Linear Time. Rational thought requires orderly linearity as it seeks to collect knowledge and use it to explain causes and effects; linearity implies that in following a course of action, one progresses towards a goal, end, or objective; as G. W. Hegel wrote, human history is constantly developing through conflict. This mode of temporal understanding is so embedded in our daily acts that it is difficult to imagine alternatives: we operate by the dictates of a 24 hour clock, 7 hour week, etc, we imagine career and educational “paths” which lead towards an ultimate goal, and we have come to see the course of life itself in a similar way.

The World as Mechanism: Closed Under Physics. The scientific revolution enabled by the articulation of linear reason, by the assumptions of progress, and by metaphors of knowledge as a collection of facts to be conquered, led increasingly throughout the late Renaissance years to paradigm shifts away from beliefs in the predestination of religion and towards an understanding of the nature of the world as predetermined by physical laws. Revolutionaries of the era proposed that the laws of the natural world were “closed under physics,” or able to explain any and all past, present, and future phenomena through their application; according to classical conceptions of science born in this period, “all matter acts according to predetermined and knowable laws unending material progress, communicated by media and consumption based culture” (See CA Bowers, Revitalizing the Commons: Cultural and Educational Sites of Resistance and Affirmation ).

The End: The World is Conquered

Only, of course it’s not, as phenomenologists, critical theorists, physicists, artists, etc etc have been attesting to in recent generations. YES dualism gave us technology, science, a way to shed religious fear in favor of scientific inquiry. BUT it also forgot so much along the way: the “other” (the body, the spirit, experience, art), an organic, non-mechanistic vision, purpose, meaning…

And all this WHY?!? (ok, the Greeks, and European history, but also, THIS BOOK).

At first, I began Discourse on Method in trepidation: for, after all, what if some of the ideas were indeed sound? What if I had spent my entire adult life attempting to correct and refute a construct that held up under scrutiny? But alas my fears were allayed within pages, when it became clear that Descartes is just about the least introspective person who ever lived.

It goes like this: Descartes thought and thought, and couldn’t find the answers sitting at his dingy desk in his small dark room. So he went out into the world. He “traveled… frequented people of various humors and conditions, gathered varied experiences.” And alas, he still couldn’t write anything down, he was so caught up in all the experience. So he said, to hell with this, and went home. Where thought immediately came pouring in torrents. This flurry of cogitation led to the brilliant thesis that it’s not experience or the body or relationships with others, or any of the mushy-gushy sensuous stuff of life that makes the man – it’s his thought alone!

Sigh. Just… sigh.

[review 2016; originally read in 2008]
January 10, 2017
Η πραγματεία αυτή, δημοσιευμένη στα 1637, στην καρδιά του Τριακονταετούς Πολέμου, από έναν άνθρωπο ασθενικό και φοβισμένο, αλλά και πεπεισμένο για την αλήθεια των συλλογισμών του (έχει τα πειράματά του πάνω από όλα και μια προπαρασκεύη από προηγούμενες μελέτες του επάνω στη φυσ��κή επιστήμη) που υποφέρει καθώς η διάθεσή του για ησυχία και απομόνωση έρχεται σε κόντρα με την επιθυμία του να απελευθερώσει τον κόσμο από τον μεσαιωνικό σκοταδισμό και να τον παραδώσει ελεύθερο και λυτρωμένο από τα δεσμά του στο Φως της Επιστήμης. Ο τρόπος σκέψης του έρχεται σε ρήξη με την σχολαστική θεολογική παράδοση, κι όσο κι αν ορκίζεται στον Θεό του βασιλιά και της νταντάς του, στην πραγματικότητα, τον εκθρονίζει, για να θέσει τον Άνθρωπο, στο κέντρο του κόσμου. Κι αυτό. Αυτό συνιστά την ουσιώδη επανάσταση που άνθρωποι σαν τον Ντεκάρτ, έφεραν σε μια εποχή που η απόκλιση από τον κανόνα συνεπαγόταν με κάψιμο στην πυρά. Η πραγματεία χωρίζεται σε έξι μέρη και παρακάτω παραθέτω μια μικρή περίληψη του καθενός ξεχωριστά.

Πρώτο μέρος:

«Δεν αρκεί να έχει κανένας καλό μυαλό, το κυριότερο είναι να το χρησιμοποιεί καλά». Έτσι ξεκινάει την πραγματεία ο Ντεκάρτ. Αυτή είναι η έννοια της «ορθοφροσύνης» της «bon sens». Έτσι όλοι μας μοιραζόμαστε το λογικό, αλλά ανεξάρτητα από τις δυνατότητές μας, η αξία του συνίσταται στην καλή ή κακή χρήση που του κάνουμε. Το πνεύμα για την τελειοποίησή του ωστόσο χρειάζεται και άλλες ιδιότητες: φαντασία, μνήμη, ταχύτητα σκέψης. Αλλά το λογικό είναι ιδιότητα που αποδίδεται σε κάθε ανθρώπινο ον και αυτό ακριβώς μας διαχωρίζει από τα ζώα. Έτσι κάπως λοιπόν, επινόησε μια μέθοδο, συνισταμένη από ορισμένες «απόψεις» και «κανόνες», για την εύρεση της αλήθειας. Αυτήν την μέθοδο θέλει να την εκθέσει στην κρίση του αναγνωστικού του κοινού, για να βεβαιωθεί, αν όντως είναι ορθή γιατί όπως λέει και ο ίδιος «μπορεί να γελιέμαι κι ίσως να μην είναι παρά λίγος χαλκός και γυαλί αυτό που παίρνω για χρυσάφι και διαμάντια». Η αμφιβολία λοιπόν είναι η δεύτερη φύση κάθε φιλοσόφου, κάθε στοχαστή.

Οι σπουδές του, ομολογεί πως δεν τον βοήθησαν ιδιαίτερα «δεν είχα κερδίσει τίποτα άλλο, εχτός που είχα ανακαλύψει ολοένα περισσότερο την αμάθειά μου». Και εκθέτει με πικρία την ιστορία του πνεύματός του, τις επιστήμες που συνάντησε στην πορεία του (γλώσσες, ιστορία, μυθολογία, ρητορική, ποίηση, θεολογία, φιλοσοφία, νομική, ιατρική, μαθηματικά) όλες τις σπούδασε (εκτός από τις απόκρυφες που θεωρεί πως πρόκειται για ψεύτικα τεχνάσματα) και τελικά κατέληξε απογοητευμένος από όλες. Μια επιστήμη λοιπόν. Αναζητεί μια επιστήμη που να ικανοποιεί το πνεύμα του «μια επιστήμη που θα μπορούσε να βρεθεί μέσα μου ή και μέσα στο μεγάλο βιβλίο του κόσμου». Γι’ αυτό ρίχτηκε στα ταξίδια. Θέλησε να μελετήσει τα «ήθη των ανθρώπων». Κι εκεί όμως συνάντησε πολλά ψέματα και τότε συνειδητοποίησε πως ίσως πολλές από τις πεποιθήσεις που προέρχονται από το δικό του πολιτισμικό περιβάλλον μπορεί να είναι εξίσου «εξωφρενικές και γελοίες». Όταν όμως έχουμε ασπαστεί κάτι, όταν δεν μας διέπει το κριτικό πνεύμα της αμφιβολίας, όλα τα δεχόμαστε ως αληθινά και δεδομένα. Και κάποια μέρα, αποφασίζει να μελετήσει τον ίδιο του τον εαυτό. Να γίνει ο ίδιος, το αντικείμενο της διερεύνησής του. Αυτή η στροφή του Ντεκάρτ είναι η απαρχή μιας ανθρωπολογίας προορισμένης μέσα στους αιώνες που θα ακολουθήσουν να φέρει στο φως τις ιδιότητες και τα χαρακτηριστικά της ανθρώπινης φύσης, εξορίζοντας τον Θεό και την θεολογία από το κέντρο του ανθρώπινου στοχασμού. Κι αυτή ακριβώς η μικρή στροφή, αποτελεί τομή, στην ιστορία της σκέψης της ανθρωπότητας.

Δεύτερο μέρος:

Έτσι κάποια χειμωνιάτικη μέρα, στις αρχές του Τριακονταετούς πολέμου, σε ένα δωμάτιο με μια θερμάστρα, σκέφτεται πως τα ξένα έργα είναι πολύ δύσκολο να τα κάνουμε δικό μας κτήμα και πως μόνο να τα μπαλώνουμε μπορούμε, σε αντίθεση με εκείνα που αποτελούν αποκλειστικά δικό μας δημιούργημα. Οι τωρινές επιστήμες είναι τελικά ένα συνονθύλευμα από θεωρίες, πάνω στις οποίες κάποιος έρχεται να προσθέσει και δεν μπορούν να πλησιάσουν την αλήθεια. Και ίσως θα ήταν καλό, αντί να επισκευάζεις ένα παλιό σπίτι, κάνοντας προσθήκες, να το γκρεμίσει συθέμελα και να το χτίσεις ολάκερο από την αρχή. Χωρίς τις ξένες γνώμες και παρεμβολές, μονάχα με την δύναμη του λογικού. Θέλει λοιπόν να τα γκρεμίσει όλα μέσα του και να χτίσει εκ νέου «με το αλφάδι του λογικού». Δεν θέλει ωστόσο να αλλάξει την κοινωνία, δεν πρόκειται να συγκρουστεί με την καθεστηκυία τάξη, με τους θεσμούς και τις παραδόσεις. «Ποτέ ο σκοπός μου δεν απλώθηκε πέρα από το να προσπαθήσω να μεταρρυθμίσω τις ατομικές μου σκέψεις και να χτίσω πάνω σε έδαφος ολότελα δικό μου». Κι από όλες τις γνώμες διαλέγει να αναζητήσει την δική του «να καθοδηγηθώ μοναχός μου». Αναζητά λοιπόν μια μέθοδο που να έχει τα θετικά από τρεις επιστήμες, τη λογική, την γεωμετρία και την άλγεβρα αλλά χωρίς να πάσχει από τις εγγενείς τους αδυναμίες. Από τα παραγγέλματα της λογικής κρατάει μόνο τέσσερα:

• Να μη παραδέχομαι τίποτε άκριτα ως αληθινό.
• Να διαιρώ τις δυσκολίες, τόσο όσο χρειάζεται ώστε να τις επιλύω ευκολότερα.
• Να κατευθύνομαι βαθμηδόν από τα απλούστερα και ευκολότερα στα δυσκολότερα και συνθετότερα.
• Να απαριθμώ τα πάντα, ώστε να μη μου διαφεύγει το παραμικρό.

Από τα απλούστερα συνάγονται τα πολυπλοκότερα, και υπό την προϋπόθεση πως δεν θα παρεισφρήσει κάτι αναληθές στον συλλογισμό, θα μπορέσουμε να φτάσουμε στο τέλος στο ξεδίπλωμα κάθε αλήθειας όσο κρυμμένη ή απλησίαστη κι αν είναι αυτή. Ακριβώς όπως κάνουν και οι γεωμέτρες. Εξετάζουν σχέσεις και εντοπίζουν αναλογίες. Αυτό που όμως τον βοήθησε στα μαθηματικά, και του έδωσε τον τρόπο να λύνει με επιτυχία τα προβλήματα, τον τρόμαξε όταν πήγε να το εφαρμόσει στην φιλοσοφία. Γιατί εκεί τα πράγματα δεν είναι πάντα μετρήσιμα μεγέθη και υπολογίσιμα, γιατί εκεί όλα είναι περισσότερο συγκεχυμένα.

Τρίτο μέρος:

Έτσι μέχρι να αισθανθεί αρκετά ώριμος για το εγχείρημά του, αποφασίσει να επινοήσει μια «προσωρινή ηθική» για καθαρά «ατομική χρήση».

• Να κρατώ τα έθιμα και τις παραδόσεις και την θρησκεία που γαλουχήθηκα και όλα τα υπόλοιπα να προτιμώ τις μετριοπαθέστερες γνώμες.

• Να υποστηρίζω έμπρακτα τις επιλογές, σαν τον χαμένο μες στο δάσος που αντί να περιπλανιέται κάνοντας κύκλους προτιμότερο να κρατήσει μια ευθεία ρότα για να μπορέσει να φτάσει στο τέλος του δάσους. Κι όταν δεν ξέρω την σωστότερη γνώμη να διαλέγω την πιθανότερη.

• Αφού τίποτα στον κόσμο δεν είναι στην εξουσία μου σε αυτόν τον κόσμο, πέρα από τις σκέψεις μου συνεπώς όσα είναι έξω από την σφαίρα των δυνατοτήτων μου πρέπει να είναι πέρα από τη σφαίρα των επιθυμιών μου.

(σσ: Εδώ υπάρχει ένα απόσπασμα που έχω κυκλώσει από μια παλιότερη ανάγνωσή μου, δεν θα έπρεπε να ήμουν παραπάνω από 21 ετών: «Και πως την ανάγκη φιλοτιμία ποιούμενοι, καθώς λένε, δεν θα επιθυμούμε να είμαστε γεροί, όταν είμαστε άρρωστοι ή ελεύθεροι, όταν βρισκόμαστε στη φυλακή, περισσότερο από όσο επιθυμούμε τώρα να έχουμε κορμιά από ύλη άφθαρτη όσο τα διαμάντια ή φτερά για να πετούμε σαν τα πουλιά». Κι έξω από τον κύκλο έχω σημειώσει με μολύβι: «Τί βλακείες». Σήμερα -100 περίπου χρόνια μετά- καθώς ξαναδιαβάζω την φράση αυτή του Ντεκάρτ, συνεχίζω να οργίζομαι γιατί υποχρεώνομαι να ζω σε έναν κόσμο όπου, ως ουδέν μονιμότερον, η προσωρινή Καρτεσιανή ηθική μοιάζει να έχει γίνει καθεστώς).

• Να βρω την ιδανική ενασχόληση, δηλαδή την καλλιέργεια του λογικού και την αναζήτηση της αλήθειας. Γιατί είναι δυνατό έτσι, οι επιθυμίες μου να στραφούν γύρω από πράγματα εφικτά, αφού υπόκεινται αποκλειστικά στο δικό μου χέρι, όπως η απόκτηση των αγαθών που προκύπτουν από την απόκτηση της αρετής.

Αυτές είναι σκέψεις που κάνει ο Ντεκάρτ μέσα στην θαλπωρή της θερμάστρας του. Κι έπειτα δυναμωμένος από αυτές αποφασίζει να ταξιδέψει στον κόσμο. Και ταξιδεύει για εννιά ολάκερα χρόνια, στην Ιταλία, στη Γαλλία, στη Γερμανία, στην Ιταλία και επιδίδεται στο να αποβάλλει τις πλάνες και να διατηρεί μόνο όσα αποδεδειγμένα είναι αληθινά και ορθά. Και στο τέλος καταλήγει στην Ολλανδία και εκεί αποφασίσει να καταγράψει και να συνθέσει το φιλοσοφικό του σύστημα που απέκτησε μέσα από τις εμπειρίες του και όχι μέσα από την ανάγνωση των βιβλίων.

(Αυτό από μόνο του μπορεί να ακούγεται παράξενο ή αστείο, αλλά ένας περιοδεύων «θεατής» μέσα στην Ευρώπη του 17ου αιώνα, όπου έζησε ο Ντεκάρτ σίγουρα θα είχε να δει πολλά παράξενα και αλλόκοτα και απαράδεχτα και εντελώς αντίθετα προς τη λογική, να επικρατούν ως θέσφατα, ως κανόνες και ως παραδόσεις. Πόσο μάλλον σε περίοδο πολέμου. Ο Ντεκάρτ άλλωστε δεν σκοπεύει βάσει της προσωρινής ηθικής του να αλλάξει τον κόσμο, αλλά τον εαυτό του, συνεπώς σωπαίνει και στοχάζεται).

Τέταρτο μέρος:

Ξεκινάει με την υπόθεση πως έστω ότι τίποτα από όσα υπάρχουν στο νου δεν είναι περισσότερο αληθινά από εκείνα υπάρχουν στην φαντασία των ονείρων μας. Επειδή όμως κάτι πρέπει να είναι αληθινό συμπεραίνει πως σίγουρα ο εαυτός του υπάρχει, εφόσον ο εαυτός του παράγει όλες τις σκέψεις. Συνεπώς αναφέρει πως η πιο ακλόνητη αλήθεια υπάρχει στο «σκέφτομαι άρα υπάρχω». Κι αυτή η αλήθεια δεν σηκώνει την παραμικρή αμφιβολία. Κι από εκεί εξαρτά την ύπαρξη από την σκέψη, και προχωρεί σε έναν διαχωρισμό ανάμεσα στην ψυχή και το σώμα: «κι αν ακόμα το σώμα δεν υπήρχε διόλου, πάλι η ψυχή δεν θα έπαυε να είναι ό,τι είναι». Και κάπως έτσι οι πιο ξεκάθαρες ευδιάκριτες σκέψεις δεν μπορούν παρά να είναι οι αληθέστερες. Για παράδειγμα η ύπαρξη του Θεού. Το να σκέφτομαι περί ενός όντος τελειότερου από εμένα, σημαίνει αυτομάτως πως το ον αυτό είναι αληθινό. Η ιδέα της τελειότητας δεν πηγάζει από τον ίδιο. Ο ίδιος δεν είναι τέλειος. Συνεπώς κάποιο τέλειο Ον υπάρχει και είναι αυτό που του υποβάλλει την ιδέα της τελειότητας.

Ο Ντεκάρτ επιμένει στον διαχωρισμό ανάμεσα στην αίσθηση και στη νόηση. Θεωρεί την πρώτη ατελέστερη και τη δεύτερη πως υπερβαίνει τα πεπερασμένα όρια της φαν��α��ίας, θεωρεί πως είναι εκείνη που οδηγεί σε συλλήψεις πέρα και έξω από τον υλικό κόσμο. Με τη νόηση μπορούμε να στοχαστούμε περί του Θεού και περί της ψυχής κι ας μην μπορούμε να αντιληφθούμε τον Θεό και την ψυχή με τις αισθήσεις. Και καταλήγει πως «ούτε η φαντασία, ούτε οι αισθήσεις μας μπορούν ποτέ να μας βεβαιώσουν για τίποτα αν δεν μεσολαβήσει η νόησή μας». Η ατέλειά μας είναι η αιτία που δεν σκεφτόμαστε ξεκάθαρα. Η τελειότητα του Θεού είναι η πηγή των ξεκάθαρων και διακριτών σκέψεων. Χωρίς αυτήν την τελειότητα, η πραγματικότητα δεν διαφέρει από το όνειρο.

Και για να αποφύγει τις συγχίσεις καταλήγει πως «είτε είμαστε ξυπνητοί, είτε κοιμισμένοι, πρέπει να πειθόμαστε μονάχα με την προφάνεια του λογικού μας», αν και στο ξύπνιο μας το λογικό δεσπόζει περισσότερο από όσο στα όνειρά μας. Κι έτσι μπορεί κάποιος με μεγαλύτερη ασφάλεια να διαχωρίσει την φαντασία από την πραγματικότητα.

Πέμπτο μέρος:

Με πολύ φόβο και αυτολογοκρινόμενος προκειμένου να μην εξοργίσει τους Ιησουίτες και τους απανταχού καθολικούς, αναφέρει πως με τη μέθοδό του μπόρεσε να εξηγήσει και να κατανοήσει διάφορα κοσμολογικά φαινόμενα (κίνηση της γης, του ήλιου, των πλανητών) χωρίς να απαρνηθεί την ύψιστη αρχή της τελειότητας του Θεού και των νόμων που αναμφίβολα ο ίδιος έχει θέσει, θέτοντας σε κίνηση τον κόσμο που δημιούργησε. Και όλα αυτά τα κατέγραψε σε μια πραγματεία.

(στο σημείο αυτό με εντυπωσίασε ιδιαίτερα ο φόβος τον Ντεκάρτ για την εκκλησία και τον βαθμό που αυτή κυριαρχούσε επάνω στη σκέψη των ανθρώπων, σαν μια αέναη απειλή).

Ο Θεός αυτός λοιπόν που έφτιαξε τον υλικό κόσμο, έφτιαξε από τα ίδια υλικά μέρη και τον άνθρωπο. Κι ως προς αυτό ο άνθρωπος δεν διαφέρει από τα υπόλοιπα δημιουργήματα. Αλλά ο Θεός πέρα από την υλική ψυχή, τον εμψύχωσε και με μία άλλη, μοναδική στον κόσμο μια «ψυχή λογική» που δεν παράγεται από την δύναμη της ύλης. Προχωρεί στην αναφορά της λειτουργίας του ανθρώπινου σώματος και στην μηχανική που διέπει την κυκλοφορία του αίματος. (αρτηρίες, φλέβες, κίνηση της καρδιάς, λειτουργία των πνευμόνων και στομαχιού, μυϊκό σύστημα κτλ). Και τελικά καταλήγει στον εγκέφαλο, ο οποίος σχηματίζει ιδέες που δημιουργούνται από τις αισθήσεις, τις οποίες τις παραλαμβάνει έπειτα η μνήμη και η φαντασία για να τις ανασυνθέσει. Η ικανότητα της ομιλίας διαχωρίζει τον άνθρωπο από τα ζώα και συνιστά μια προωθημένη μορφή έκφρασης της έλλογης σκέψης, όπου υπερβαίνει και στέκει επάνω από τους νόμους της μηχανικής, από όλα τα υπόλοιπα υλικά δημιουργήματα. Κι αφού η λογική ψυχή υπάρχει ξέχωρα και ανεξάρτητα από το σώμα συμπεραίνει πως δεν υπόκειται στο νόμο της φθοράς και πως είναι αθάνατη.

Έκτο μέρος:

Ενώ λοιπόν είχε έτοιμη την πραγματεία του να την δημοσιεύσει μαθαίνει την καταδίκη ενός άλλου (σσ. Εννοεί του Γαλιλαίου από την Ιερά Εξέταση) και σπεύδει να ακυρώσει το εγχείρημά του. Ωστόσο υπάρχει κάτι, ένα αίσθημα ευθύνης απέναντι στην διάδοση μιας γνώσης, την οποία περιγράφει ως «πρακτική φιλοσοφία» ικανής να κατασκευάζει μηχανές για το όφελος του ανθρώπου και να διασφαλίζει την ανθρώπινη υγεία (σσ. Κι όλα αυτά για να καταλήξουμε σήμερα στην Monsanto – Bayer; Αναρωτιέμαι, τί θα είχε να πει γι’ αυτό ο Καρτέσιος, αλλά φαίνεται πως η κάθε εποχή έχει τη δική της Ιερά Εξέταση τελικά). Κι αυτή η έγνοια του τον κάνει να αρθρώσει μια έκκληση:

«Να καλέσω τα άξια πνεύματα να προχωρήσουν παραπέρα, συμβάλλοντας, ο καθένας κατά την κλίση και τη δύναμή του, στα πειράματα που θα έπρεπε να γίνουν, και μεταδίνοντας επίσης στο κοινό όλα όσα μάθαιναν. Σε τρόπο που, αρχίζοντας οι τελευταίοι αποκεί που θα έχουν τελειώσει οι προηγούμενοι, κι ενώνοντας έτσι τις ζωές και τις εργασίες πολλών, να τραβήξουμε όλοι μαζί πολύ μακρύτερα απ’ όσο θα μπορούσε να προχωρήσει ο καθένας χωριστά».

Στη συνέχεια απολογείται επί μακρόν για την απόφασή του, παρ’ όλα αυτά να μη δημοσιεύσει την πραγματεία του, κάνει λόγο για την φιλοσοφία που διέπει τα πειράματά του και τις όποιες αντιδράσεις συνάντησε. Και την απόφασή του να συνοδεύει τούτον εδώ τον «Λόγο περί της Μεθόδου» με τρεις μικρές πραγματείες οι οποίες ελπίζει πως δεν θα προκαλέσουν προβλήματα «περί Διοπτρικής, Μετεώρων και Γεωμετρίας» πάνω στις οποίες εφαρμόζει την επιστημονική του μέθοδο.

Και καταλήγει στα περί γλώσσας:

«Κι αν γράφω γαλλικά, που είναι η γλώσσα του τόπου μου, κι όχι λατινικά, που είναι η γλώσσα των δασκάλων μου, το κάνω επειδή ελπίζω πως όσοι χ��ησιμοποιούν αποκλειστικά το φυσικό λογικό τους εντελώς άδολο, θα κρίνουν τις γνώμες μου καλύτερα από εκείνους που πιστεύουν μονάχα στα αρχαία βιβλία».

Και κλείνει λέγοντας για άλλη μια φορά, πως πάνω από όλα επιθυμεί να τον αφήσουν στην ησυχία του την οποία δεν την ανταλλάσσει ούτε με τη δόξα ολάκερου του κόσμου.

Αυτό το έργο ήταν τόσο ωραίο, και εκτός των άλλων αποδεικνύει πόσο χρήσιμες υπήρξαν οι θερμάστρες για την εξέλιξη της ανθρώπινης νόησης (με αφορμή το χιόνι που ρίχνει απόψε χαχαχα).
Profile Image for Dan.
1,076 reviews52 followers
September 27, 2019
Discourse on the Methods by Rene Descartes

I think, therefore I am (COGITO ERGO SUM) ........ if all the other objects which I had ever imagined had been in reality existent, I would have had no reason to believe that I existed; I thence concluded that I was a substance whose whole essence or nature consists only in thinking.

COGITO ERGO SUM is perhaps the most famous line ever written in all of philosophy. It is found about half-way through this treatise, which was published in 1637 and is surprisingly readable.

Descartes, of course, was one of the world’s greatest philosophers and mathematicians. For those interested in the philosophy of Descartes you will immediately notice the heavy emphasis on rationalizing. He was known as the Father of Rationalism after all. Descartes was also a scientist and there is an excellent chapter where he describes how the circulatory system works, but Descartes’ philosophical ideas are the most quotable and memorable.

For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it ......

My third maxim was to endeavor always to conquer myself rather than fortune, and change my desires rather than the order of the world, and in general, accustom myself to the persuasion that, except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.

4 stars. I certainly enjoyed this short treatise. I am not very well read in philosophy but nevertheless it was reassuring to follow someone, with such a highly structured brain, puzzle through some deep philosophical problems. Perhaps I’d liken the experience to reading Origin of Species by Darwin. I’m a bit in awe.
Profile Image for Mehmet.
Author 2 books412 followers
February 10, 2022
"Dahası bana göre şu önerme, yani Düşünüyorum, öyleyse varım ya da mevcudum önermesinin doğruluğu o kadar kesin ve o kadar açıktı ki..." (s.70)

Düşünüyorum öyleyse varım sözüyle meşhur olan filozof Descartes'in başyapıtı olarak kabul edilen Yöntem Üzerine Konuşma yazarın iki temel görüşü üzerine kurulu. Bunlardan ilki, kişinin her şeyden şüphe edebileceği lakin düşünen benliğinden şüphe edemeyeceği:

"Sonra dikkatle kim olduğuma baktım ve gördüm ki, bir bedenim olmadığını ve içinde bulunduğum bir dünya ya da bir yer olmadığını hayal edebildiğim halde, ben hiçbir şekilde kendimin varolmadığını hayal edemiyordum." (s.71)

İkinci temel görüş ise yöntemin önemi; kitaba da adını bu vermiş zaten:

"Fikir ayrılıklarımızın nedeni, bazılarımızın bazılarına göre daha üstün bir akılla donatılmış olması değil, yalnızca farklı yöntemlerle düşünmemiz ve dikkatimizi aynı şeylere yöneltmememiz. Sonuçta sadece deha sahibi olmak yetmez, önemli olan onu doğru şekilde kullanmaktır." (s.28)

Galileo'nun başına gelenlerden çok etkilenen filozofun kitabını bu minvalde nispeten sansüre uğratarak yazdığını düşünüyorum. Zaten Dünya adlı eserini de bu sebeple basmadığını kendisi de kitabın son bölümünde itiraf ediyor. İnsançocuğunun fikri olarak emekleme döneminden yürüme dönemine geçtiği bir zaman diliminin önemli isimlerinden olan Descartes felsefe okumalarında mutlaka uğranılması gereken bir durak.

Profile Image for Rowland Pasaribu.
376 reviews68 followers
June 3, 2010
The Discourse on the Method is a fascinating book, both as a work of philosophy and as a historical document. Descartes lived and worked in a period that Thomas Kuhn would call a "paradigm shift": one way of thinking, one worldview, was slowly being replaced by another. Descartes's work, while part of the new paradigm, still has one leg in the old mode of thought.

The old, waning worldview was scholastic Aristotelianism. The Aristotelian paradigm had a conception of the mind, of knowledge, and of science that may seem very alien to us today, but this conception held sway over Western thought for about two thousand years.

According to the Aristotelian tradition, the mind proper—what is exclusively "inside the head"—is limited to reason and understanding. Sensory perception, imagination, will, and so on, make reference to things outside the mind and so are not purely mental. Rather, they are the link that connects us to the outside world. According to Aristotle, there is no distinction between what I perceive and what is "out there." Thus, sensory experience gives us direct and immediate knowledge of objects in the world.

Science, in this worldview, is a matter of taking the immediate evidence of sensory experience and deducing certain conclusions from it. The sensory experience is indubitable, and the deductions are logical, so all scientific knowledge is based on absolute certainty.

One of Descartes's most significant contributions to the scientific revolution is his conception of sensory experience, imagination, and will as being just as much subjective mental phenomena as reason and understanding. His systematic doubting questions how it is that we can be certain about what we perceive. Descartes draws a sharp distinction between what our senses report to us and what is "out there."

This re-conception of the mind shakes the foundations of Aristotelian scholasticism. If sensory experience is no longer self-evident, then we can no longer deduce certain scientific truths from these observations. Essentially, Descartes makes us sharply aware of what goes into a scientific observation. It is not a purely neutral and objective act of seeing the world as it is; it is an interpretive act that must be undertaken with great care and circumspection.

The scientific paradigm that we have today owes a great deal to Descartes. Today, we have taken Descartes's method one step further. Now, we conclude that we can never have absolute certainty in the sciences. All we can hope for are sound theories that are supported by careful observations.

Descartes himself does not reach this conclusion. To a large extent, he is still set on finding certainty. His search for certainty, beginning with the famous line "I am thinking, therefore I exist," has largely defined the course of a great deal of philosophy since his time. We can debate whether Descartes is right in having found certainty in this claim, and we can debate what kind of knowledge this is, but it seems clear that it is not a kind of knowledge that is applicable to science as a whole. In finding this certainty, Descartes hopes to rebuild science in the Aristotelian method of deduction from certain first principles. In hindsight, this effort may seem a bit misguided.

Though his philosophy of science may be a bit askew, the philosophical method Descartes uses in part four of the Discourse has proven extremely valuable. His method of skeptical doubt has raised important philosophical questions concerning how we can be certain of, or even know, anything at all. His re-conception of what the mind is has largely defined the shape of Western psychology and philosophy ever since. His assertion that he is essentially a thinking thing and that his mind is distinct from his body has also raised a number of important philosophical questions: what is my relationship with my mind? What is my relationship with my body? If they are distinct, what is the causal connection between the two? And so on. Effectively, Descartes frames the questions that have preoccupied what we now call "modern philosophy."

The turning point in Descartes's intellectual development occurred on November 10, 1619. He had attended the coronation of Ferdinand II in Frankfurt, and was returning to serve in the army of Maximilian of Bavaria. Due to the onset of winter, he holed himself up for a day, alone in a stove-heated room. With nothing else to occupy him, he set about thinking.

He first mused that accomplishments of single individuals are usually more perfect than group efforts. Cities and buildings are more beautiful when they are made according to a single plan than when they are patched together piecemeal. Similarly, laws are better when they come from a single mind than when they evolve gradually over time. Descartes cites God's law as an instance of this perfection. These musings suggest to him that a person is best served by following the guidance of his reason alone, and not letting his judgments be clouded by his appetites and by the opinions of others.

While it would be impossible to resolve the imperfections of a state or a body of sciences by tearing it all down and starting again from scratch, Descartes suggests that such a method is not quite as unreasonable on the individual level. He decided to let go of all his former opinions at once, and re-build them anew according the exacting standards of his own reason.

Descartes is very careful, first of all, to point out that this method is meant only on an individual level, and he strongly opposes those who would try to topple a public institution and rebuild it from the ground up. Second, he reminds us that he only wants to discuss his method with us; he is not telling us to imitate him. In particular, he notes that there are two types of people for whom this method would be unsuited: those who think they know more than they do and who lack the patience for such careful work, and those who are modest enough to think that they are more capable of finding out the truth if they follow a teacher. Descartes would count himself among this second group if he hadn't had such a number of teachers and embarked on so many travels as to realize that the opinions of even learned men vary greatly.

Before abandoning his former opinions entirely, Descartes formulates four laws that will direct his inquiry: First, not to accept anything as true unless it is evident; this will prevent hasty conclusions. Second, to divide any given problem into the greatest possible number of parts to make for a simpler analysis. Third, to start with the simplest of objects and to slowly progress toward increasingly difficult objects of study. Fourth, to be circumspect and constantly review the progress made in order to be sure that nothing has been left out.

An obvious starting place was in the mathematical sciences, where a great deal of progress and certain knowledge had been achieved by means of demonstration. Descartes found his work made considerably easier if, on the one hand, he considered every quantity as a line, and, on the other hand, developed a system of symbols that could express these quantities as concisely as possible. Taking the best elements of algebra and geometry, he had tremendous success in both these fields.

Before applying this method to the other sciences, Descartes thought it well to find some philosophical foundations for his method.

If we were to identify a starting point for modern philosophy, November 10, 1619 would be as good a date as any. We might pinpoint precisely the moment that Descartes resolved to cast all his former opinions into doubt. This process of methodological doubt is central to Descartes, and indeed to most of modern philosophy. The results Descartes achieves by employing this method of doubt are discussed in Part Four of theDiscourse, so we will comment on his method in greater detail there.

It is important, of course, that Descartes does not simply scrap everything he knows, or else he would have no guidance in rebuilding his knowledge. The four rules he lays out are meant as guidelines, so that he will be able to rely on them, and not on unnoticed prejudices. Descartes had initially collected twenty-one rules entitled Rules for the Direction of Our Native Intelligence in 1628, but left the manuscript unpublished. The four rules we find here can be read as a major abbreviation of that effort. Essentially, they demand that an inquiry proceed slowly and carefully, starting with basic, simple, self-evident truths, building toward more complex and less evident propositions.

Descartes assumes a certain kind of theory of knowledge that was pretty much unquestioned in his day. In modern philosophical language, we call this a foundationalist epistemology. It sees knowledge as built up from simple, self-evident propositions, to higher and more complex knowledge. The theory states that if we were to analyze any complex proposition, we could break it down into increasingly smaller, simpler pieces until we were left with simple, non-analyzable propositions. These basic propositions would be either self-evidently true or self-evidently false. If they were all true, then we would know that the original complex proposition was also true. Of course, there are different variations of foundationalist epistemology; for example, the epistemology will shift depending on how the analysis is supposed to take place or on what the basic propositions are supposed to look like. But the general idea can be applied to Descartes easily. Knowledge is built up like a skyscraper, with the higher, complex knowledge built on simple, sturdy foundations.

This is just one of a number of theories of knowledge that are batted about these days. Another theory that will come into play later in the Discourse is a coherentist epistemology, one that states that knowledge is more like a circle than a skyscraper. According to this theory, there is no foundational knowledge that is more basic than other knowledge. All knowledge fits together in such a way that it is internally coherent, but there is no fundamental self-evident proposition that is itself beyond doubt and that justifies all the other propositions. A statement is true because it is consistent with everything else we know to be true, not because it can be analyzed into simple parts.

The reason that a foundationalist epistemology seems natural to Descartes at this point is that this is the epistemology that philosophy had inherited from Aristotle. As we have noted already in other sections of this SparkNote, Aristotelian scientific method works according to a system of syllogism and demonstration, where complex truths are logically deduced from simpler ones. This method implies a theory of knowledge according to which complex truths are built upon simpler ones that serve as an unquestioned bedrock of knowledge.

It is significant that Descartes should choose mathematics to study according to this method. Mathematics has had far more success than any other field (except logic) with deductive reasoning. Math is built upon simple, self-evident axioms that are then used, along with some rules of inference, to derive proofs of more complex propositions.

Descartes is not only one of the greatest philosophers of the modern world, he is also one of its greatest mathematicians. His discussion of algebra and geometry alludes to his discovery of analytic geometry that brought those two fields together. Until Descartes, algebra and geometry were two totally separate fields of study. He invented the Cartesian co-ordinate system that every math student knows and loves. That's the co-ordinate system with the x-axis and the y-axis that allows you to plot lines and curves and whatever other shapes you please. Geometrical figures could be plotted onto the co-ordinate grid, and since every line and curve on the grid corresponds to an equation, geometrical figures can be expressed as equations. Geometrical figures become algebraic equations, and algebraic equations can be graphed as geometrical figures. This all seems pretty commonplace to us today, but if you try to imagine solving math problems without graphing anything you'll begin to understand the colossal contribution Descartes made to mathematics.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,825 reviews474 followers
May 27, 2022
What to add that has not already been said about what is perhaps the most famous of "speeches"? Not much, in my opinion, so I will briefly summarize the object and the reason for the book.

First of all, the preface clarifies that it is a question of the work's approach not as an exposition of philosophy but as a preparation for it. Indeed, Descartes sees himself constrained, by learning of the condemnation of Galileo for his ideas too accurate for the time, to make consequent cuts on what should be the work at the base. His physics had based on recent discoveries of Galileo - heliocentrism and the movement of the earth - he could not afford to corroborate these theses and risk condemnation himself. He, therefore, manages to be content to plough the ground without really planting anything, his seeds being dependent on ideas that he has no right to support.
He will merely explain his philosophical method to us, which he says should allow anyone who uses it to increase their knowledge by degree gradually. So this method, briefly, what is it?
We can say that he makes philosophy a science, not in so far as he creates concepts with the help of scientific formulas, but in the sense that he seeks truth, from which will flow truths, his method. So is scientific, but he applies it to philosophy. He doesn't want "maybe" and is fed up with contingency-based philosophies; he sees Stoicism as a magnificent palace built of sand and mud. This first truth will be the cogito.
Cogito ergo sums, I think therefore I am, the action of doubting necessitates that I believe, but if I believe, it is necessary that I be, that I will be a thinking substance. This fact is the first brick of the vast building that Descartes erected.
Given European events, Descartes is satisfied with the minimum; however, this is not a bad thing since it allows him to prepare the assimilation of his philosophy. If his thought were work, the Discourse on Method would undoubtedly be its introduction.

Therefore, a fascinating work, since it is the philosophical basis of a thinker who will have profoundly influenced all European and then world thought, the cogito is universal with which all have confronted in one way or another. An accessible book, although its 17th century imposes an old-fashioned style on us, convoluted turns of phrase, although sometimes very pretty.
To be read as it is one of the bases of modern philosophy, but very insufficient for anyone who wants to claim an adequate knowledge of Cartesian thought.
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,045 reviews1,697 followers
August 10, 2015
دکارت، در بیست و دو سه سالگی، بیشتر مابعد الطبیعه ی خودش رو پی ریزی کرد که البته، خیلی هم مابعد الطبیعه نبود. بلکه فقط مقدمه ی مختصری بود تا از شک رها بشه و بتونه به علوم دیگه بپردازه. چرا که به قول خودش، مابعدالطبیعه مثل تنه ی درخته و علوم دیگه، مثل شاخه. تا این تنه در جای درستی ریشه نداشته باشه، شاخه ها بار نمی دن.
این رساله، شرح همون مابعدالطبیعه ای هستش که یک شب زمستانی، خمیده در کنار شومینه ساخته.
Profile Image for Ahmed Oraby.
908 reviews3,319 followers
July 20, 2016
ما رأيي بالكتاب؟ هل أنت مهتم؟ اقرأ معي إذًا:

يا إخوتي، هأنذا، بعد عمري كله، وبعد ما عايشته. وخبرته، وعلمت من التجارب، والشواهد، والأدلة، ما يؤكد كلامي ورأيي، وأؤكد لكم، بل وأكاد أتيقن، وأجزم، وأقطع، أن رأيي، الذي أقول به، وأعتقده، لهو صحيح، وكل هذا، لا يرجع، فقط، لكوني عايشته، وخبرته، ولكن لكوني متأكدًا، من داخلي، بأن لي رأيًا، تدعمه الشواهد والأدلة القاطعة، والتي لا شك فيها ولا مراء، بأن الله موجود، وبأني موجود وبأن الله حق، وبأنه عادل، وليس بشرير، وليس بمخادع، وليس بأحمق ولا ظالم ولا مهووس، وكل ذلك، بالطبع، يرجع، لعدة أدلة، قد بينتها من قبل، ولا أحب أن أعيد فيهاوكلامي مجددًا، ولكنها أدلة قوية، ويقينية، ولا يشكك فيها غير جاهل، أو ��تجن، أو أحمق، أو مدع للعلم، وكل هذه الأدلة، هي أدل حلوة، وكويسة، وجميلة، وبأن الله موجود، والنور موجود، والعالم، بالطبع موجود، ونفسي موجودة، وزين الدين زيدان، موجود، وإن لم يتسع الكلام الآن، للحديث عن ذلك باستطراد، وبعرض تام للأدلة، ولكنها، على كل حال، أدلة يقينية، لا يشكك فيها إلا الجهال، والمتجنين، ومدعي المعرفة الكذبة، ولكن أنا على حق، وقد رأيت من الشواهد نواهد، ولكني، مكسّل، وبصراحة، أن أوردها في أي من كتبي، لكنها موجودة، وسوف أعرضها في الفصل القادم من كتابي، ولكنها موجودة، لكني أنأى بنفسي عن كتابتها، لما قد يؤول لي من بعد وفاتي من تحريف لكلماتي، أو تحريف لأفكاري، أو تقوّل عليّ، ولما قد يحدث لي من اضطهاد أثناء حياتي، لذا، قد قررت، أن أتحدث كثيرًا، على مدى أربعمئة صفحة، دون أن أضع أيًا منهم، لكن مع الحديث عن كونهم موجودين، وعن المربع، والمثلث، والمستطيل، وبالطبع، الهندسة، دون أن أوضح غرضي، حقيقة، من ذكرهم، ولكن لإعطائكم نبذة فلسفتي الرياضية، والتي تؤكد أن الله موجود، لكني، مع ذلك، لن أقول، كيف، ولم، وعلام، وإلام أرمي. وليس هذا راجعًا لكوني من��فق أو جبان، لكن لأني، وبصراحة، مليش مزاج، لإن العوام أنعام، لا يعقلون، ولأني لا أريد أن أخرجهم من عاميتهم
هذا هو عين ما فعله ديكارت. هل فهمت شيئًا؟ لا. بالظبط. هذا هو ما فعله، مقدمات، ونتائج، ومغالطات، واستنباطات، لا تدري صدقًا علاقتها ببعضها البعض. رحمه الله على كل حال، دخل في مستنقع الميتافيزيقا، بقارب مثلوم، لكن بذراعين قويتين، وظن أنهما كفيلتين (أو كفيلتان) بأن ينجياه، لكنه وجد نفسه يسبح بجسده ويبتلع كل القاذورات، دون أن تنجيه قوته.
سيئ على كل حال
Profile Image for Seval Yılmaz.
75 reviews73 followers
October 29, 2017
Descartes'ı hepimiz hayatımızın bir döneminde duymuşuzdur. Rasyonalizmin ve kartezyenciliğin kurucusu, modern batı felsefesinin babası olarak kabul edilen Descartes, başyapıtı olarak kabul edilen Yöntem Üzerine Konuşma'yı 1637 yılında yayımlamış. Gallilei'in başına gelenleri duyan Descartes, muhtemelen eserini bir miktar elden geçirip sansürlemiş. O ünlü "düşünüyorum öyleyse varım" (cogito ergo sum) önermesinin de bulunduğu bu kitapta kendi hayatından da özyaşamöyküsel bir kesit sunuyor kitabın başında ve kitabın sonunda da kalp/dolaşım sistemi ile ilgili bilimsel (tıbbi) bilgilere yer veriyor Descartes. İnsanı beden ve zihin olarak iki ayrı varlık olarak (kartezyen düalizm) ele alan Descartes, aklın varlığının baki olduğunu, bilimsel gerçeklere (ve Tanrı'nın varlığına da) akıl yoluyla ulaşılabileceğini ve şüphe edilen şeylerin gerçek kabul edilemeyeceğini savunuyor. Descartes, kitabında gerçek/şüphesiz bilgiye nasıl ulaşılabileceğini ve aşamalarını açıklıyor ve bunu "yöntem" olarak nitelendiriyor. Aslında Descartes, "tümevarım" yöntemini (basitten karmaşığa, küçükten büyüğe doğru vb.) savunuyor.

Yöntem Üzerine Konuşma'yı İhsan Oktay Anar'ın Puslu Kıtalar Atlası'nda külhanbeyi ağzıyla "Zagon Üzerine Öttürme" adıyla görüp merak etmiştim ve o zaman bu kitabı okumak aklıma düşmüştü ancak okumak şimdi nasip oldu. Descartes'ın fikirlerini merak ediyorsanız ve felsefeyle ilgileniyorsanız bu kitabı tavsiye edebilirim. Ben, Latinceden çevrilip diğer birkaç dildeki çevirisiyle karşılaştırılmış Alfa Yayınları baskısını okudum ve çevirisi oldukça anlaşılırdı ancak diğer yayınevlerinden yayımlanan baskıların çevirileri hakkında bilgim yok. Keyifli okumalar.
Profile Image for Thomas.
54 reviews9 followers
September 23, 2019
“Endeavor always to master myself rather than fortune, to try to change my desires rather than to change the order of the world, and in general to settle for the belief that there is nothing entirely in our power except our thoughts, and after we have tried, in respect of things external to us, to do our best, everything in which we do not succeed is absolutely impossible as far as we are concerned.”
Profile Image for Abdulla Awachi.
88 reviews74 followers
March 25, 2016
مراجعة كتاب “ حديث الطريقة “ للفيلسوف الفرنسي رينيه ديكارت

هذا الكتاب هو أول كتاب أقرأه لديكارت ، بعد أن قرأت عنه كثيراً هنا و هناك ، و لكني كنت قد آليت على نفسي ألا أقرأ للفلاسفة إلا من كتبهم و أتجنب أي سرد أو تلخيص أو شرح لفكرهم و نتاجهم و ذلك بعد سماع نصيحة شوبنهاور، و إني لأعتقد أن هذه النصيحة قد فادتني كثيراً في نظرتي للكثير من الأمور ، فنحن كثيراً ما نسمع عن مذهب فكري معين و ديانة معينة و نحكم عليها قبل أن نرجع لنتاجات أصحابها و نتأملها جيداً و من ثم نحكم عليها.

و لم يكن كتاب ديكارت بمنأى عن هذه القاعدة ، فلطالما سمعت عنه أقوالاً لم تكن كثيراً منها دقيقة.

و في هذا الكتاب الذي يسميه ديكارت “ حديث الطريقة” يقدمه على أنه طريقته الخاصة به في تأمل الأمور و في فلسفتها و أن هذا العمل ليس موجهاً ليكون مثالاً للآخرين في كيف يجب أن تكون طرائقهم الخاصة ، إلا اللهم من باب مشاركة الآخرين بهذه الطريقة التي سار عليها ديكارت نفسه.

و لأجل هذا التأمل انعزل ديكارت الخلق و مارس تأملاته الفريدة التي بدأها في نسف جميع المُسَلَمات و القواعد و البراهين : دينية كانت أم فلسفية أو هندسية رياضية ، ليبدأ بعدها - كما يقول- بناء بيتٍ جديدٍ بعد هدم البيت الفكري القائم ، فيشك في كل شيء ، و عندما لا يبقى شيئاً يشكُ فيه ، يصل لنفسه التي شكَّت و فكرت فيستدل أن لديه نفساً و ذاتاً موجودة هي التي قامت بعملية الشك و التفكير فيعتبر وجود الذات هو أول فكرة يسلَّم بها في فلسفته و منها ينطلق لبقية المسائل.

و من خلال وجود فكرة الكمال داخل ذهنه يستدل على وجود إله خالق قادر عليم كامل أودع في أذهاننا فكرة الكمال و لو لا وجود هذا الاله لما كانت هذه الفكرة موجودة. و يعرج على انتقاد الثقة المطلقة بالحواس ضارباً عدة أمثلة من حقيقة أحجام الأجرام السماوية و بين ما نراها عليه من حجم تصوره لنا حواسنا، فاتحاً المجال للثقة أكثر بالميتافيزيقيا التي ينتقد من لا يؤمنون بها : كيف لهم أن يفرقوا بين حقيقة الأفكار التي تأتيهم وقت اليقظة و تلك التي تأتيهم إبان النوم أيهما أشد وثوقاً من الأخرى.

ينتقل بعد ذلك لوصف بيولوجي دقيق لجسم الانسان و بالتحديد القلب و كيفية تشريحه و كيفية عمله و الشرايين التي يحتوي عليها و الأوردة المنظمة لعمله ، مستعرضاً التعقيدات العديدة في أجهزة الانسان و كيف أن القلب بما فيه من حرارة هو مصدر الحياة الأول الذي يمد كامل الجسم بما يحتاجه.

و من القلب ينتقل للاستنتاج على تجرد النفس و استقلاليتها عن الجسد و على بقاءها بعد الموت و على العالم الاخر.

و اللطيف في فقرة من فقرات الكتاب أنه يطير بتصوره للآلة التي يمكن أن تتحدث و تصيح و تعمل وفقاً للبرمجة البشرية، مما يجعلك تنتبه إلى أنه يصف الروبوت في تحليق للخيال سابق للزمن.

بعد ذلك يدعو عوضاً عن الاكتفاء بالفلسفة النظرية لإيجاد فلسفة أخرى يسميها “فلسفة عملية” تساعد الانسان على تسخير عوامل الطبيعة بحيث يكون الانسان سيد الطبيعة و يسخر ذلك الاستغلال لزيادة راحته و صفاء مزاجه.

يخصص القسم الأخير للتحدث عن نشر كتابه و عن سبب اختياره للغة الفرنسية -العامية آنذاك - لكتابته عوضاً عن اللاتيتية الرسمية و ذلك لكي يصل إلى أكبر عدد من الجمهور و لا ينحصر في طبقة المثقفين فقط.

كتاب رائع جداً و أنصح به.

٢٥ آذار ٢٠١٦
Profile Image for bh.
71 reviews40 followers
October 16, 2013
Summary of my notes on the Discourse, by part:

I. The premise is introduced that reason is naturally equal in all, and truth is to be found by conducting it correctly. Descartes attempts to show how he himself has attempted this, not to dictate how everyone should.

II. The method. Descartes wished to rebuild the very foundations upon which his opinions and views were formed. He decided to do this by systematic doubt. The key point is to never accept as true anything that is not known to be evidently so.

III. Descartes outlines his provisional moral code that he used during his search, saying that if one wishes to rebuild their house, they must have alternate accommodation while doing so.

IV. From his first unquestionable principle, 'I think, therefore I am', Descartes moves on to his proof for the existence of God.

V. Largely a description of a treatise he never published, and discussion of the difference between human and animals souls. This part is generally of less interest, not written with such clarity and wit.

VI. Here, he describes why that treatise was never published, his thoughts on experimentation, and his plans for future publications. This suffers from the same issues as part five. The real meat of the Discourse is to be found in parts one through four.
Profile Image for Mojtaba.
95 reviews20 followers
November 30, 2019
گفتار در روش، پيشنهاد متدلوژي به جاي منطق صوري

اين كتاب را دكارت در سن 41 سالگي (1637) منتشر كرد و اگرچه اولين كتاب نوشته شده او در زمينه فلسفه نبود، ولي اولين كتاب منتشرشده او در زمينه فلسفه است.
1- اين كتاب بنا به ملاحظات زماني و تعصبات مذهبي، كتابي محافظه كارانه و مختصر صد صفحه اي است كه اصول اساسي فلسفه دكارت ، شرح و توضيح داده است.
2- توضيحات محمد علي فروغي، مترجم كتاب در طي كتاب "سير حكمت در اروپا" بسيار روشنگر و حتي خواندني تر از خود رساله دكارت است چرا كه دكارت بسيار خلاصه اشاره كرده و در نگاه اول بدون در نظر گرفتن مكاتبات بعدي، محتواي خود رساله خيلي چشمگير به نظر نمي رسد.
3- در نظر گرفتن شرايط تمدني كه دكارت در آن مي زيسته، به فهم بهنر فلسفه دكارت كمك مي كند. چرا كه فلسفه رياضي وار دكارت (آنطور كه خودش در نظر داشت باشد) تابعي از پيشرفت رياضي و نگاه مكانيكي زمانه خود است كه با توجه به پیشرفت شگفت دانش در آن زمان، نتايج حاصل از مكانيك جديد، يقيني و قطعي فرض مي شده است. دكارت از اختلافات فلسفي و فكري و ديني كه منتج به جنگهاي زيادي شده بود نتيجه گرفته بود كه فلسفه قدما يقيني نيست و گرنه اينقدر اختلاف وجود نداشت.
4- بنا بر گفته كاپلستون، ظاهرا دكارت از فلسفه مدرسي (ادامه فلسفه افلاطون و ارسطو) به صورت كامل اطلاع نداشته و يا مطالعه عميق از منابع دسته اول نداشته است. به همين دليل دكارت فارغ از تفكرات فلاسفه قبلي روشي كاملا جديد بنا نموده است كه البته تاثير بسيار عميقي بر فلاسفه بعدي خود و در تمدن غرب گذاشت، ولي مابعدالطبيعه دكارت، مورد مناقشه ��يادي قرار گرفت.
5- سنت گرايان معاصر، (مانند رنه گنون و سيد حسين نصر)، فلسفه دكارت رو نقطه شروع انحراف تفكر غرب و شروع مدرنيته مي دانند كه فارغ از صحت ادعاي ايشان، به نوعي اعتراف به تاثير و عظمت دكارت است كه بناي عظيم فكر خودش را از صفر پايه گذاشت و به گذشتگان چندان اعتنا نكرد.
6- خلاصه خام فكر فلسفي دكارت به شرح ذيل است.
الف. منطق صوري، علي رغم مزاياي زيادي كه دارد باعث بوجودآمدن اطلاعات جديد نمي شود، به همين دليل متدولو‍ژي (منطق عملي يا روش تجزيه و تركيب - شبيه آنچه دكارت از هندسه تحليلي ابداع كرده بود-) رو با چند قاعده به عنوان جايگزين منطق صوري پيشنهاد كرد.
ب: متدولوژي با پيشنهاد روشي براي فكر كردن و نتيجه گرفتن، براي شروع نياز به حقايق يقيني دارد. اين حقايق يقيني را دكارت با استفاده از روش شك دستوري يا مصلحتي و رسيدن به جمله "من هستم پس مي انديشم" بوجود آورد. در واقع هر چه به صورت عقلي (حضوري -در درون-) به صورت واضح و متمايز درك شود (به گفته دكارت به شرطي كه درون خود را از شهوات پاك كرده باشي) را مي توان به عنوان پايه قرار داد و با اعمال متدولوژي بر اين مباني، به نتايج يقيني بعدي دست يافت كه خود مي تواند به عنوان پايه نتايج بعدي تر مورد استفاده قرار گيرد. تعداد اين حقايق و بسائط پايه اي زياد نيست و دكارت با توجه به اصول رياضي فكر مي كرد كه به مانند رياضي، هر چه اصول موضوعي اوليه كمتر باشد، نظام فلسفي منسجم تري ساخته خواهد شد.
Profile Image for Erick Hormazabal.
33 reviews4 followers
May 15, 2021
No quedé muy satisfecho con este discurso, las 4 normas universales sería lo único que rescato (por que mi carrera se basa en ellas). De resto me pareció leer a un resentido y sin embargo egolatra y engreído que se creía dueño de la verdad.

En cuanto a su discurso sobre la razón y las ideas mi senda definitivamente es la de John Locke.

Con respecto a su respeto y la forma como baja la cabeza con la religión me pareció de lo mas aborrecible, mas tomando en cuenta las consecuencias que Galileo Galilei tuvo que pagar por demostrar que la iglesia estaba equivocada ( y Rene lo sabía)

Este discurso toco partes personales que influyen en mi calificación y por eso no creo que pueda llegar a ser igual de malo para los demás.
Profile Image for Gator.
271 reviews22 followers
September 24, 2019

“Reading good books is like engaging in conversation with the most cultivated minds of past centuries who had composed them, or rather, taking part in a well-conducted dialogue in which such minds reveal to us only the best of their thoughts.”

“That is because God isn’t a deceiver, which implies that he has given me the ability to correct any falsity there may be in my opinions. Indeed, everything that I am ‘taught by nature’ certainly contains some truth. For the term ‘nature’, understood in the most general way, refers to God himself or to the ordered system of created things established by him. And my own nature is simply the totality of things bestowed on me by God.”

Profile Image for Mahdi.
298 reviews95 followers
February 13, 2017
حالا ما که هیچی نیستیم در عرصه فلسفه ولی به نظرم کتابش چیز خاصی نداشت و اساسا مسیر واحدی هم نداشت؛ از تشریح عملکرد قلب تا اثبات خدا از طریق عقل

کتاب کوچکی است اما واقعا خواندنش سخت است؛ چون هیچ انسجامی و اساسا محتوای ویژه ای ندارد
Profile Image for david.
431 reviews
July 26, 2020
“Just walk away Rene.”

Well, another genius buried a long time ago with his philosophy.

Some of his thoughts resonated with me.

Much of it did not.

The hubris of many ‘thinkers’ can be disagreeable to someone who has himself developed an unshared personal map/strategy for life after existing here for many years.

Profile Image for Gauss74.
437 reviews78 followers
October 11, 2019
Da molto tempo avevo il desiderio di avvicinarmi a Cartesio, sia perchè un po mi affascinava l'idea del personaggio (un soldato che resta bloccato dall'inverno in un paesino e chiuso in una stanza riscaldata fonda la geometria analitica!), sia perchè Renee Descartes è universalmente riconosciuto come il capostipite di un pensiero nuovo, che sarà capace di cambiare il mondo.
La realtà è che ho incontrato un vecchietto con la mente affilata come una spada (idee chiare e distinte, direbbe lui); ma per l'appunto un vecchietto. Sullo stesso filone, pensatori/scienziati (ma nel Seicento è la stessa cosa) come Pascal, Spinoza o Locke riescono ad essere molto più attuali: occorre però (ed appunto) ammettere che tutti e tre da Cartesio avevano preso le mosse. Il grande matematico francese va quindi celebrato per aver avviato un nuovo modo di guardare al mondo, che saranno però altri a portare al successo.
Stiamo quindi parlando di un "metodo", che condurrà il suo creatore ad alcuni risultati spettacolari (la creazione della Geometria Analitica libererà generazioni di studenti dal fardello pesante della geometria arcaica) insieme ad altri più controversi (Cartesio pretende di aver dimostrato l'esistenza di Dio e dell'anima, ma alla fine dei conti non si discosta molto dall' argomento ontologico di Sant'Anselmo e san Tommaso D'Aquino).
Cosa è dunque questo metodo? Difficile spiegarlo in dettaglio per un non addetto ai lavori: diciamo che il grande passo avanti rispetto al passato è il liberare l'indagine dalle catene di chi è venuto prima. Se una affermazione non è chiara non la si accetta, non importa chi la abbia formulata (con buona pace di Aristotele e della scolastica). Un ruolo principalissimo viene riconosciuto all'intuizione: ciò che nell'immediato appare come vero al nostro spirito deve essere considerato vero anche scientificamente.
Una affermazione del genere è da sempre la croce e la delizia di tutta la scienza. E' alla base della categoria del postulato, che esiste da molto prima di Cartesio, ed è il solo modo che abbiamo per costruire una teoria. Peccato, che il Novecento e la nascita della Meccanica dei Quanta abbia dimostrato che quell'affermazione sia falsa! Quanto doveva essere rassicurante l'universo nella mente di Cartesio. Egli aveva liberato il pensiero dal vecchiume aristotelico, ma aveva comunque creato un mondo governato da regole chiare e distinte, dove l'esistenza di Dio e dell'immortalità erano proposizioni scientificamente dimostrate ed innegabili! (Il che ci fa ben comprendere la sanguinaria ferocia con cui gli atei dei secoli successivi avrebbero attaccato il Discorso sul Metodo, Kant e Nietzsche per dirne solo due).
La chiarezza, la profondità e la compiutezza dei ragionamenti del grande genio francese lasciano il lettore senza parole. Ma il lettore del ventunesimo secolo parimenti non può non accorgersi che purtroppo questo è un libro che invecchia. Il mondo della meccanica quantistica, della bomba atomica, di Hitler e di Stalin, del principio di Indeterminazione e della società liquida non può condividere le sicurezze dell'uomo del Seicento. Noi dobbiamo convivere con la banalità del male nella bestia umana, con il terrore e l'incertezza perpetua della società liquida, con un uomo che rimasto solo dopo aver preteso la morte di Dio, si dilania nel cercare di riempire l'universo.
E pertanto non stupisce che la seconda parte del libro (quella delle applicazioni) appaia ai nostri occhi vecchia nella maniera di pensare e goffa nella falsità dei risultati pratici che raggiunge.
Davanti al sublime matematico che ha voluto fornire a tutti gli uomini (inclusi i meno dotati! Lo dice esplicitamente, il che quattro secoli fa era inaudito) gli strumenti per capire il mondo e CI E' RIUSCITO, ogni uomo di cultura deve togliersi il cappello. Ma per riflettere sul mondo di oggi, occorre riporre il Discorso sul Metodo di Cartesio nello scaffale dei libri importanti, dei libri che hanno fatto un'epoca, e prendere in mano Hannah Arendt, Zygmunt Bauman, e molti altri.
Profile Image for Raquel.
376 reviews
July 11, 2020
Para mim, um dos livros mais importantes da filosofia. Descartes inaugurou uma nova era na filosofia e libertou o Homem das amarras da filosofia escolástica que dominou a Idade Média; Deus começa a ser dispensado, pouco a pouco, e a visão interpretativa do mundo é guiada pelo antropocentrismo. Vale muito a pena explorar Descartes como filósofo e personalidade. Um 'must read' da filosofia.
Profile Image for Michael Kress.
Author 1 book11 followers
June 6, 2021
I read Meditations on First Philosophy before Discourse on Method and liked it better. Discourse was a harder read and some parts of it were boring. I give Meditations 4 stars and Discourse 2 stars, so that averages out to 3 stars. I started out listening to Dedication on audio book. It's a letter he wrote to the Pope trying to prove that he wasn't an atheist. He was a contemporary of Galileo, who was in hot water at the time for his astronomical heresies. It's funny because the letter doesn't seem sincere at all. But I guess the Pope bought it. Later on, Descartes abandoned some of his writings in fear of getting in trouble with the church. I switched to paperback after Dedication because the prose is hard to follow on audio book. Meditation One is where he starts to doubt everything. I like the idea of him sitting next to the fire in his dressing gown meditating on this stuff. It's just a cool, peaceful picture in my mind. Mediation Two is where he makes the famous statement "I think, therefore I am." It occurred to me that Socrates knew nothing, but centuries later Descartes decided that he could at least know that he existed. The Third Meditation has some interesting theories trying to prove the existence of God. His argument that you can't have infinite regress is pretty sound. According to Descartes, the universe could not exist without some type of God to set it in motion. This sounds like some form of Deism to me. I had been pondering these types of things myself. That is what initially attracted me to this book. Descartes is considered to be one of the first scientists, but we know a lot more about it than he did at the time. He even acknowledged that there was much more to be revealed, and science has probably refuted a lot of his claims. I won't discuss meditations four through six here, but they are just as interesting as one through three.

Discourse on Method seems like a book prepping the reader for Meditations. This is unfortunate since I read Meditations first. In a way it's good though because I might not have made it through if I didn't know that Meditations was better. He talks about how he traveled all over Europe seeing sights and meeting new people. Sounds fun! His theory about animals being automations and not having any real feelings is interesting but disturbing. Darwin's theory of evolution pretty much blows that idea out of the water. We are not nearly as separate from or different than animals as Descartes claimed. The part where he talks about how the heart pumps blood almost bored me to tears. I didn't know if I was going to make it through that part. Then we get to the part where he calls out his critics. I really liked the writing here because he's basically saying that they are not real philosophers like he is and he's putting them in their place. In the end, he just wants everyone to leave him alone so he can chill out and write Meditations. I was just glad to be done with this so that I could put it up and move on to something else.

Update 6/5/21: I finally finished reading this a second time, and boy, has my perspective on this book changed. It was interesting for me to read my own review on this and see how much I've grown. I was new(er) to philosophy then. I've read some Heidegger and a few other things since then that have given me new insights. So, I'm going to have to take back a few of my old claims. Clearly, Descartes was a philosophy heavyweight and deserved a better rating than what I gave him. This time, I'm giving Discourse four stars and Meditations five stars, making it an average of 4 1/2, rounded down.

Discourses didn't bore me this time, not even the heart pumping blood part. And I was wrong about animals not being automatons. Descartes was right. Animals rely on instinct, while humans have logic and reason. We are vastly different. Here's a great video of Noam Chomsky explaining it:
(I hope this goes without saying, but I still don't condone animal cruelty.)
Another thing I may have misrepresented last time was Descartes's religion. He was clearly a devout Christian. It's just that the church was so hardcore back then that, if you didn't subscribe to their brand of Christianity, they'd burn you at the stake. Meditations expresses a genuine piety.
Profile Image for Alp Turgut.
396 reviews123 followers
January 18, 2022
"Meditasyonlar"ın hazırlığı niteliğinde "Yöntem Üzerine Konuşma / Discourse on Method / Discours de la Méthode", Descartes’ın her şeyden tadımlık olarak bahsederek özellikle kartezyen felsefenin tanıtınımı yaptığı bir eser. Bir nevi Montaigne’in "Denemeler"i gibi bir otobiyografi resmi çizen kitabın özellikle kartezyen felsefe, inanç ve insanla ilgili ilk 4 bölümü çok başarılı, sağlık ve insan vücuduyla ilgili son 2 bölümü ise düşündürücü. Özellikle "Meditasyonlar"a henüz başlamayanların okursa güzel bir hazırlık olacaktır.

Londra, Birleşik Krallık

Alp Turgut
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