New Studies in the Philosophy of Descartes: Descartes as Pioneer

By Norman Kemp Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII

"La philosophie cartésienne, en dépit des efforts souvent tentés pour l'exposer suivant une dialectique unilinéaire, n'est point, à strictement parler, un système. On la nommerait assez bien un pluralisme, en ce sens que son contenu ne se laisse ni dériver d'un seul principe ni enfermer dans une seule formule. Pluralisme cohérent, faudrait-il ajouter: non seulement parce que les oppositions qui s'y révèlent ne sont pas (quoi qu'on en ait dit) de formelles contradictions, mais surtout parce que chacun des termes opposés n'y a été admis qu'en vertu d'une même attitude d'esprit, la docilité à l'évidence. Se plier en toutes choses, à ce qu'on voit; l'enregistrer comme on le voit, à quelque ordre qu'il appartienne, sans y rien mêler de sa sensibilité propre: voilà l'attitude cartésienne, telle qu'elle se manifeste dans la théorie de la méthode comme aussi dans le Cogito et dans les démarches qui en procèdent. C'est l'attitude empirique, au sens premier et authentique du mot: ceux-là seuls répugnent à en convenir, que des associations invétérées conduisent toujours à confondre empirique et sensualiste. En sorte que, si nous voulons à toute force caractériser la philosophie de Descartes par un nom, le nom qui lui siérait le mieux serait, tout paradoxe à part, celui d'empirisme -- empirisme radical et intégral."-- LAPORTE, op. cit. ( 1945), p. 477.

"Nous ne pensons pas . . . qu'il y ait un système de Descartes. Sans doute tout philosophe tend-il, en un sens, au système. Mais il ne découvre l'homme que dans la mesure où il ne réussit pas à constituer le système, ou plutôt dans la mesure où il réfléchit sur cet échec, et le comprend."-- ALQUIÉ, op. cit. ( 1950), p. 5.

Nothing could have been further from [ Descartes'] thought than the necessity or even the possibility of a criticism of categories. No difficulties or obscurities lurked for him in such conceptions as substance and causality, which were accepted as deliverances of the 'natural light', the validity and adequacy of which for the determination of the real no doubt could assail. . . . Having secured the starting-point of his metaphysics by means of the Cogito ergo sum, he at once applied to the thinker, whose existence he found to be indubitable, the current conceptions of substance and essence."-- GIBSON, Locke's Theory of Knowledge ( 1917), pp. 208-9, 217.

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New Studies in the Philosophy of Descartes: Descartes as Pioneer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Bibliography vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter I 2
  • Appendix A DESCARTES' THREEFOLD DREAM 33
  • Appendix B DESCARTES' ENCOUNTER WITH CHANDOUX, AND SUBSEQUENT INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL DE BÉRULLE 40
  • Chapter II 48
  • Chapter III 84
  • Chapter IV 102
  • Chapter IV Descartes' Universal Physics as Outlined in His Traité De La Lumière 103
  • Chapter V 124
  • Chapter VI 138
  • Chapter VII 162
  • Chapter VIII 190
  • Chapter IX 220
  • Chapter X 259
  • Chapter XI 294
  • Chapter XII 308
  • Chapter XIII 322
  • INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 365
  • INDEX OF SUBJECTS 367
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