Thursday, October 31, 2019

Rene Descartes - The Discourse on the Method Essay

Rene Descartes - The Discourse on the Method - Essay Example His work Discourse on Method offers several key perspectives on analyzing the world, and it breaks from traditions in a number of ways. The Discourse on Method is not only important as a study of how the early scientific method developed in the Western world, but also it is informative in terms of where Descartes fits within the historical context of Western thought. Based on the applications of Descartes’ new method, one can see the logical consequences of his theories to both the physical and metaphysical sciences. An overview and critical examination of those consequences, including what can be called â€Å"Descartes’ history hypothesis,† is given in this paper. Descartes published the Discourse on Method in 1637, four years before his seminal Mediations on First Philosophy in which he establishes the rationalist mode of thinking necessary to produce the cogito ergo sum argument. The arguments in the Discourse are laid out in a way that reflects this later wor k, particularly in the importance that Descartes ascribes to reasoning as such as a way toward truth. He writes, â€Å"For, in fine, whether awake or asleep, we ought never to allow ourselves to be persuaded of the truth of anything unless on the evidence of our Reason† (Descartes, IV, 9). ... However, more than a piece of thorough philosophy, Descartes’ Discourse reads more as a narrative: introducing his younger self, his eventual dissatisfaction with the old ways of thinking that were based primarily on a Jesuit or Aristotelian model of science, and his dissatisfaction with the lack of certainty that those methods provided him. In fact, these methods only produce more doubts, more uncertainty about the world as it actually exists. Therefore, he outlines the way by which he arrives at his new method, which calls into question everything except for the fact that his is a thinking thing, capable of doubting everything except for the fact that it doubts (Descartes, III, 6). In giving a justification for a rational way to approach philosophical and scientific problems, Descartes is setting up his own conclusions about both the physical and metaphysical worlds. The function of Part V of the Cartesian Discourse on Method is to address some of these physically relevant s cientific considerations given by his rational method. â€Å"In Part Five of the Discourse a few years later,† writes Ernan McMullin, â€Å"he returned to his ambitious project of a mechanistic cosmogony, describing it this time only in outline, with none of the explanatory detail of the earlier work† (McMullin 2010, 91). Cosmogony, which refers to the study of how the universe came to be, is a mechanistic—or physical—set of theories. Descartes’ method, which attempts to set forth a mechanistic view of the origins of the universe, involves looking at a number of different phenomena: stars, the sky, heavenly bodies, and human beings themselves (Descartes, IV, 4). Descartes is attempting to develop the foundations

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