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By René Descartes

The hot model of Cress's translation of Descartes's Meditations has attained an strangely excessive measure of clarity . . . and, while, of constancy to the unique. this mix . . . makes the paintings specially appropriate for school room use. --Roger Ariew, college of South Florida, and Marjorie Grene (1910-2009), Virginia Polytechnic Institute

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Additional resources for Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy (4th Edition)

Sample text

Here are some examples. For Aristotle, for some substituends of ‘’, R is the relation: - is composed of-. For some, it is: - is for the sake of-. For some, it is: - is made (or: brought about) by -. 2 So the ascription to X of aitia-status in relation to Y has implications on two levels. It implies (1) that Y stands in some specified relation, R, to X; and (2) that being in possession of this information gives or entitles one to claim, concerning Y, a certain attitude or cognitive position that points at X.

So: to cast intelligence for the role of ‘fundamental force of nature’—a move that verbally resembles casting gravity for it, or heat or electromagnetism—is not simply to claim that the cause is so and so rather than such and such: it is also to commit oneself to an entire style of scientific explanation—the teleological style. Anaxagoras (if we accept this impression of him in the Phaedo) cannot have been clearly aware that he was shouldering this commitment, for his detailed explanations failed to honour it.

Take an example that Aristotle made famous: if one knows that (1) astronomical objects are divided into those that are near (to the earth) and do not twinkle, and those that are not near and do twinkle, and (2) the planets do not twinkle, one can obtain the new information that (3) the planets are near (by comparison with the fixed stars). ’, and discover by deduction that an affirmative answer is correct. But we have not explained or shown the cause of anything. ’, given its aitia or cause. Explaining why something is so simply is deducing it, or showing another how it follows, from suitable premisses.

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Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy (4th Edition) by René Descartes


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