Discours de la méthode pour bein conduire sa raison et chercher la verité dans les sciences: Discourse on the Method of Conducting One's Reason Well and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences: A Bilingual Edition and an Interpretation of René Descartes' Philosophy of Method

Discours de la méthode pour bein conduire sa raison et chercher la verité dans les sciences: Discourse on the Method of Conducting One's Reason Well and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences: A Bilingual Edition and an Interpretation of René Descartes' Philosophy of Method

Discours de la méthode pour bein conduire sa raison et chercher la verité dans les sciences: Discourse on the Method of Conducting One's Reason Well and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences: A Bilingual Edition and an Interpretation of René Descartes' Philosophy of Method

Discours de la méthode pour bein conduire sa raison et chercher la verité dans les sciences: Discourse on the Method of Conducting One's Reason Well and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences: A Bilingual Edition and an Interpretation of René Descartes' Philosophy of Method

Synopsis

This edition of Descartes' classic of modern philosophy contains an improved version of the Adam and Tonnery text; a new English translation intended to be as literal as possible and as liberal as necessary; an interpretive essay; Descartes' correspondence; and an extensive bibliography.

Excerpt

Trying to be helpful during a discussion in a recent class on Plato's account of the idea of the good in the Republic, I challenged a student who appeared to be perplexed: "Karin [not her real name], could you please give us a concrete example of a value?" Without much hesitation, she answered: "Isn't that kinda like . . . (gum chewing) . . . when ya charge something (eye blinking) . . . ya know sorta what ah mean (hair teasing)?" The incident, recounted here without any embellishment whatsoever, reminded me of a place in the chapter of De la Démocratie en Amérique entitled "De la méthode philosophique des Américains" (II, 1), where Alexis de Tocqueville had written: "Je pense qu'il n'y a pas, dans le monde civilisé, de pays où l'on soccupe moins de philosophie qu'aux États-Unis." Perhaps this unflattering passage is better left untranslated. After all, such an attitude and such behavior are not natural, but acquired -- from others, from a popular culture, from the environment, in a word, by means of "education". The point of the anecdote has to do not so much with ignorance as with superficiality. For we are all, to varying degrees, children of our times.

As a matter of fact, even some American professors of philosophy, too, especially those of the ahistorical analytical persuasion, are less critical than they could be in the attempt to understand certain texts from the history of philosophy, in that they tend to be hermeneutical fundamentalists. For they believe that understanding the philosophical argument of a book is merely a matter of opening it and looking at what meets the eye upon reading. The meaning or the sense of the argument would then be somehow available to any "philosophical" person. For example, when it is a matter of understanding one of the most widely read works of early modern philosophy, namely, René Descartes' Discours de la méthode / Discourse on the Method, this text emerges, therefore, as the book on the method of the philosophy of Descartes. Analytic philosophy and its hermeneutical fundamentalism have thus become easy prey for hermeneutical nihilism in the form of postmodern, deconstructionist tactics, which assert that a text means, if anything at all, not what its author intended it to mean, but what its readers take it to mean. So the Discourse on the Method also becomes the book of a modern philosophy of method. Of course, some people just find extremes more attractive than means. But author's intent and reader's response, as mutually exclusive approaches, cancel each other out. Nobody achieves anything.

On the other hand, the present, alternative edition of René Descartes'

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