Descartes Essay, Research Paper
Descartes is considered to be the father of modern Western philosophy, he was a man who was both loved and hated at the same time. Descartes discusses many topics during his time and one of them was his Discourse on the Method of rightly conducting ones reason and seeking the truth in the sciences. There are six parts to the Discourse and Part One is about Descartes education and his philosophical views on good sense.
Method is defined as the rules by which our powers of intuition and deduction are guided in an orderly way. Descartes was able to come up with is Discourse because of his rigid and highly scholastic education. From the young age of ten, Descartes attended one of the most famous schools in Europe; a Jesuit college called La Fleche. There he studied under some of the most learned men in the world. He studied the verbal arts: rhetoric, dialectic, and logic; as well as the mathematical arts: arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. Once Descartes had complete his education his found himself of doubts and errors that he thought of himself not as educated but as ignorant. He learned all of the same subjects that the other students were learning and he also read through any book he could get his hands on concerning subjects that most considered abstruse and unusual.
Descartes did not feel that the subjects learned in school were unnecessary, he just felt that he could learn better on his own, coming to his own conclusions through reading, analysis and reasoning. Descartes wrote
I did not, however, cease to value the exercises done in the Schools. I knew that the languages learned there are necessary for understanding the works of the ancients; that the charm of fables awakens the mind, with the memorable deeds and histories uplift it and help to shape one s judgement if they are read with discretion; that reading books is like having a conversation with the most distinguished men of past ages-indeed, a rehearsed conversation in which these authors reveal to us only the best of their thoughts.
Due to this philosophy, Descartes viewed education as one person s own experience and reasoning on the readings they read in their life.
Descartes aimed to be a well-rounded, well-versed scholar. He enjoyed oratory and poetry but he thought both were gifts of the mind rather than fruits of study. Which means, according to, Descartes, that in order to express oneself you did not need the theories of the study just the passion. Descartes also had a great love for mathematics. He felt that mathematics had the certainty and self-evidence of its reasoning. He felt quite differently about the sciences however. He felt that because the sciences borrowed their principles from philosophy, and because philosophy was such a shaky foundation, that nothing solid in science could have been built upon that foundation.
Descartes views on scholastic subjects and his criticism of them he felt the necessity to abandon his studies as soon as he was old enough to. He decided that he would learn more if he traveled. He visited courts and armies and came into contact with a great variety of peoples and also received many experiences and tested himself in a great number of situations. During this particular period in his life, Descartes reflected upon all of his experiences and tried to take the most from them because he felt that much more truth could be found in the reasonings which a man makes concerning matters that concern him than in those which some scholar makes his study about speculative matters. Descartes held the philosophy that states, in order to learn the most one must experience the most, the only way to learn is to do.
Descartes himself was a learned man. He learned all that he could under his teachers and then branched out on his own and went in seek of knowledge through travel and experience. He knowledge lead to his formulation of his philosophy on good sense.
Descartes felt that good sense is evenly distributed distributes among the population of the world. According to Descartes, everybody has good sense and no one has more or less than someone else. The good sense that one has of a specific thing is their own sense and it is possible that that sense is just better for them than for anyone else. Descartes wrote:
It indicated that the power of judging well and of distinguishing the true from the false which is what we properly call good sense or reasoning is naturally equal in all men, and consequently that the diversity of our opinions does not arise because some of us are more reasonable than others but solely because we direct our thoughts along different paths and do not attend to the same things. For it is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to apply it well.
He believed that what you do with your good sense is more important and meaningful than how much of that good sense you have.
Descartes was a smart man because he choose to educate himself. He felt that he was more fortunate to have followed a certain path in his life that lead him to reflections and maxims, which lead him to formulate his theories. Descartes feels that a person can increase knowledge gradually and raise it little by little to the highest point allowed by the mediocrity of the mind.
Descartes was a gifted man who through a school education, traveling and a commitment to books became the father of modern philosophy. He used his experiences and knowledge to create his Discourse on the Method and good sense and reasoning are part one of his Discourse.