Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

A Discourse of a Method for the Well Guiding of Reason ... »

By Ren*escartes

Science – Methodology

René Descartes

A Discourse of a Method for the Well Guiding of Reason

and the Discovery of Truth in the Sciences

Printed by Thomas Newcombe.

To the Understanding READER.

The Great DESCARTES (who may justly challenge the first place amongst the Philosophers of this Age) is the Author of this Discourse; which in the Originall was so well known, That it could be no mans but his own, that his Name was not affix’d to it: I need say no more either of Him or It; He is best made known by Himself, and his Writings want nothing but thy reading to commend them. But as those who cannot compasse the Originals of Titian and Van—Dyke, are glad to adorne their Cabinets with the Copies of them; So be pleased favourably to receive his Picture from my hand, copied after his own Designe: You may therein observe the lines of a well form’d Minde, The hightnings of Truth, The sweetnings and shadowings of Probabilities, The falls and depths of Falshood; all which serve to perfect this Masterpiece. Now although my after—draught be rude and unpolished, and that perhaps I have touch’d it too boldly, The thoughts of so clear a Minde, being so extremely fine, That as the choisest words are too grosse, and fall short fully to expresse such sublime Notions; So it cannot be, but being transvested, it must necessarily lose very much of its native Lustre: Nay, although I am conscious (notwithstanding the care I have taken neither to wrong the Authours Sense, nor offend the Readers Ear) of many escapes which I have made; yet I so little doubt of being excused, That I am confident, my endeavour cannot but be gratefull to all Lovers of Learning; for whose benefit I have Englished, and to whom I addresse this Essay, which contains a Method, by the Rules whereof we may Shape our better part, Rectifie our Reason, Form our Manners and Square our Actions, Adorn our Mindes, and making a diligent Enquiry into Nature, wee may attain to the Knowledge of the Truth, which is the most desirable union in the World.

Our Authour also invites all letterd men to his assistance in the prosecution of this Search; That for the good of Mankinde, They would practise and communicate Experiments, for the use of all those who labour for the perfection of Arts and Sciences: Every man now being obliged to the furtherance of so beneficiall an Undertaking, I could not but lend my hand to open the Curtain, and discover this New Model of Philosophy; which I now publish, neither to humour the present, nor disgust former times; but rather that it may serve for an innocent Divertisement to those, who would rather Reform themselves, then the rest of the world; and who, having the same seeds and grounds, and knowing That there is nothing New under the Sun; That Novelty is but Oblivion, and that Knowledge is but Remembrance, will study to finde out in themselves, and restore to Posterity those lost Arts, which render Antiquity so venerable; and strive (if it be possible) to go beyond them in other things, as well as Time: Who minde not those things which are above, beyond, or without them; but would rather limit their desires by their power, then change the Course of Nature; Who seek the knowledge, and labour for the Conquest of themselves; Who have Vertue enough to make their own Fortune; And who prefer the Culture of the Minde before the Adorning of the Body; To such as these I present this Discourse (whose pardon I beg, for having so long detain’d them from so desirable a Conversation;) and conclude with this Advice of the Divine Plato:

Cogita in te, praeter Animum, nihil esse mirabile.

A DISCOURSE OF A METHOD, For the wel—guiding of Reason; AND The discovery of Truth in the SCIENCES.

If this Discourse seem too long to be read at once, it may be divided into six parts. In the first, are divers Considerations touching the Sciences. In the second, the principall Rules of that Method which the Author hath studyed. In the third, some of those in morality, which he hath drawn from this Method. In the fourth, the reasons whereby the existence of God and of the humane Soul is proved; which are the grounds of his Metaphysicks. In the fift, the order of these Physicall questions, which he hath examined, and particularly the explication of the hearts motion; with some other difficulties relating to Physick; as also the difference between our Souls and those of beasts. In the last, what he conceives requisit to make a further inquiry into Nature, then hath hitherto been made. And what reasons induc’d him to write.

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