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

Now if there be any whereof I have spoken in the beginning, of the Opticks and of the Meteors, which at first jarr, by reason that I call them Suppositions, and that I seem not willing to prove them; let a man have but the patience to read the whole attentively, and I hope he will rest satisfied: For (me thinks) the reasons follow each other so closely, that as the later are demonstrated by the former, which are their Causes; the former are reciprocally proved by the later, which are their Effects. And no man can imagine that I herein commit the fault which the Logicians call a Circle; for experience rendring the greatest part of these effects most certain, the causes whence I deduce them serve not so much to prove, as to explain them; but on the contrary, they are those which are proved by them. Neither named I them Suppositions, that it might be known that I conceive my self able to deduce them from those first Truths which I have before discovered: But that I would not expresly do it to crosse certain spirits, who imagine that they know in a day al what another may have thought in twenty yeers, as soon as he hath told them but two or three words; and who are so much the more subject to erre, and less capable of the Truth, (as they are more quick and penetrating) from taking occasion of erecting some extravagant Philosophy on what they may beleeve to be my Principles, and lest the fault should be attributed to me. For as for those opinions which are wholly mine, I excuse them not as being new, because that if the reasons of them be seriously considered, I assure my self, they will be found so plain, and so agreeable to common sense, that they will seem less extraordinary and strange then any other which may be held on the same Subjects. Neither do I boast that I am the first Inventor of any of them; but of this indeed, that I never admitted any of them, neither because they had, or had not been said by others, but only because Reason perswaded me to them.

If Mechanicks cannot so soon put in practise the Invention which is set forth in the Opticks, I beleeve that therefore men ought not to condemn it; forasmuch as skill and practice are necessary for the making and compleating the Machines I have described; so that no circumstance should be wanting. I should no less wonder if they should succeed at first triall, then if a man should learn in a day to play excellently well on a Lute, by having an exact piece set before him. And if I write in French, which is the language of my Country, rather then in Latin, which is that of my Tutors, ’tis because I hope such who use their meer naturall reason, wil better judge of my opinions, then those who only beleeve in old Books. And for those who joyn a right understanding with study, (who I only wish for my Judges) I assure my self, they will not be so partiall to the Latin, as to refuse to read my reasons because I expresse them in a vulgar tongue.

To conclude, I will not speak here in particular of the progresse I hoped to make hereafter in Learning; Nor engage my self by any promise to the Publick, which I am not certain to perform. But I shall onely say, That I am resolved to employ the remainder of my life in no other thing but the study to acquire some such knowledge of Nature as may furnish us with more certain rules in Physick then we hitherto have had: And that my inclination drives me so strongly from all other kind of designes, chiefly from those which cannot be profitable to any, but by prejudicing others; that if any occasion obliged me to spend my time therein, I should beleeve I should never succeed therein: which I here declare, though I well know it conduceth not to make me considerable in the world; neither is it my ambition to be so. And I shall esteem my self always more obliged to those by whose favour I shal without disturbance enjoy my ease, then to them who should proffer me the most honourable imployment of the earth.


‌ Transcriber’s Notes and Errata ‌
‌ ‌
‌ One instance each of “what-ever” and “whatever” were found ‌
‌ in the orignal. ‌
‌ ‌
‌ The following typographical errors were corrected: ‌
‌ ‌
‌ ‌Error ‌Correction ‌ ‌
‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
‌ ‌or ‌our ‌ ‌
‌ ‌Phpsick ‌Physick ‌ ‌
‌ ‌moreworthy ‌more worthy ‌ ‌
‌ ‌examinanation ‌examination ‌ ‌
‌ ‌mnner ‌manner ‌ ‌
‌ ‌propable ‌probable ‌ ‌
‌ ‌rape ‌grape ‌ ‌
‌ ‌veuture ‌venture ‌ ‌
‌ ‌circumstrance ‌circumstance ‌ ‌

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