Category Archives: Descartes

Why humility is not a deadly sin, with Aristotle and Descartes

In Part One of his Discourse on Method, René Descartes offers a low appraisal of the work of ancient moral writers: “I compared the writings of the ancient pagans that deal with morals to very proud and very magnificent palaces that … Continue reading

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A Reason for Revelation

In Part One of his Discourse on Method (I’ll spare you the full 16 word title), Descartes presents his intellectual autobiography. He describes all the subjects he studied in school, noting their advantages and disadvantages. This, in itself, is an … Continue reading

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Deception and Greatness

Early on in Descartes’ Fourth Meditation, one encounters the following principle: “Trickery or deception is always indicative of some imperfection.” To see the truth of the principle, think about the various situations in which trickery and deception are employed: all … Continue reading

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Arguments for the Existence of God

In yesterday’s philosophy class we discussed Descartes’ first argument for the existence of God in Meditation III, which has to do with the existence of the idea of God in one’s mind. In short, Descartes does not think we ourselves … Continue reading

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Prudence and Forgiveness

It was supposed to be a quick and minor point during yesterday’s class on Descartes’ first Meditation, but the following quote from Descartes generated quite a bit of controversy in my second class: “It is a mark of prudence never … Continue reading

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Descartes on Groupthink . . . I think

As we worked our way through Part II of The Discourse on Method yesterday by Rene Descartes, my disciples students were appropriately horrified when he expressed the following opinion: “Book learning . . . having been composed and enlarged little by little … Continue reading

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