Analysis Of Rene Descartes's Discourse On Method

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In the eyes of René Descartes, the scientific method is a systematic approach to the acquisition, testing, and acceptance of knowledge. Through his Discourse on Method, Descartes outlines what is, in his opinion, the most reliable means of scientific inquiry. That is, using pure reason and rationale to reach undeniably valid conclusions. This is evident in the way he presents his procedure for conducting scientific endeavors. He states that one must begin with skepticism towards all of the commonly accepted scientific ‘truths’ (Descartes, Discourse Part 5, Section 41). Once these potentially invalid ideas have been expelled from the body of current scientific knowledge via rigorous, systematic doubt, new ideas that are discovered in accordance…show more content…
Although this methodology as a whole, due to its systematic nature, ensures that scientific knowledge is reliable, valid and capable of covering as large a range of problems as possible, it is also impractical in some ways. Descartes admits that, when following this scientific method to the letter, one man alone cannot reason his way through each of the foundational ideas, followed by the more complicated ones, and perform all of the necessary experiments along the way, before he reaches the end of his lifespan (Descartes, Discourse Part 6, Section 65). Likely in response to this obstacle, Descartes also provides his thoughts about publishing scientific truths once they are uncovered using his method. He emphasizes the importance of communicating newly acquired knowledge to the public, so that one man may begin where another has left off, and their combined contribution may be of greater significance than either man’s individual achievement would have been (Descartes, Discourse Part 6, Section…show more content…
He accomplishes this by opening Part 5 of his Discourse with his view that one should not “accept anything as true that” does not seem “clearer and more certain than the demonstrations of the geometers” (Descartes, Discourse Part 5, Section 41). In other words, any idea that is not as clear to him as a geometer’s ‘demonstration,’ he views as dubious until he can, through reason, conclude otherwise. This can be interpreted to indicate that in devising his approach to science, Descartes also put a strong emphasis on the need to question the validity of everything. Not only does this initial reference to the geometers telegraph the idea that science should start by doubting everything, it also serves to foreshadow the rest of his methodology, which will approach the discovery of truths in much of the same systematic way geometers approach the writing of a proof. By specifically using the word ‘demonstration,’ in conjunction with the concept of geometry proofs, Descartes conveys to the reader of his Discourse an image of ordered logical steps that, through reason alone, ‘demonstrate’ or prove some piece of knowledge. This technique, that is to say, beginning with an incontrovertible set of truths, similar to the initial assumptions of geometry proofs, and through reason, deriving a series of statements which must also be true, is the main foundation on

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