Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 11: The Queen Freezes Her Philosophy (Vol. 34, pp. 5-20)

René Descartes died this day in 1650, apparently the victim of too many frozen mornings tutoring a queen.

A sad end for the man who invented modern philosophy — "I think, therefore I am" — and explained the way to discern the true and the false and find the right path in life.

Descartes' "Discourse on Method" divides the philosophic process into four elements. First, "Never accept anything for true that I did not clearly know to be such." Second, divide "each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible and as might be necessary for a solution." Third, "Conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little." Finally, "In every case, to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing is omitted."

A stunningly simple process of thinking that seems to be a lost art these days.

No comments: