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Discourse on Method by Descartes

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Discourse on Method by Descartes

DISCOURSE ON THE METHOD OF RIGHTLY CONDUCTING THE REASON,

AND SEEKING TRUTH IN THE SCIENCES

by Rene Descartes

PREFATORY NOTE BY THE AUTHOR

If this Discourse appear too long to be read at once, it may be divided

into six Parts: and, in the first, will be found various considerations

touching the Sciences; in the second, the principal rules of the Method

which the Author has discovered, in the third, certain of the rules of

Morals which he has deduced from this Method; in the fourth, the

reasonings by which he establishes the existence of God and of the Human

Soul, which are the foundations of his Metaphysic; in the fifth, 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; and, in the last, 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.

PART 1

Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for

every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even

who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually

desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess. And in

this it is not likely that all are mistaken the conviction is rather to be

held as testifying that the power of judging aright and of distinguishing

truth from error, which is properly what is called good sense or reason,

is by nature equal in all men; and that the diversity of our opinions,

consequently, does not arise from some being endowed with a larger share

of reason than others, but solely from this, that we conduct our thoughts

along different ways, and do not fix our attention on the same objects.

For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite

is rightly to apply it. The greatest minds, as they are capable of the

highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and

those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided

they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run,

forsake it.

For myself, I have never fancied my mind to be in any respect more perfect

than those of the generality; on the contrary, I have often wished that I

were equal to some others in promptitude of thought, or in clearness and

distinctness of imagination, or in fullness and readiness of memory. And

besides these, I know of no other qualities that contribute to the

perfection of the mind; for as to the reason or sense, inasmuch as it is

that alone which constitutes us men, and distinguishes us from the brutes,

I am disposed to believe that it is to be found complete in each

individual; and on this point to adopt the common opinion of philosophers,

who say that the difference of greater and less holds only among the

accidents, and not among the forms or natures of individuals of the same

species.

I will not hesitate, however, to avow my belief that

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