Discourse on Method by Descartes
Discourse on Method by Descartes
by Rene Descartes
If this Discourse appear too long to be read at once, it may be divided
into six Parts: and, in the first, will be found various considerations
touching the Sciences; in the second, the principal rules of the Method
which the Author has discovered, in the third, certain of the rules of
Morals which he has deduced from this Method; in the fourth, the
reasonings by which he establishes the existence of God and of the Human
Soul, which are the foundations of his Metaphysic; in the fifth, the order
of the Physical questions which he has investigated, and, in particular,
the explication of the motion of the heart and of some other difficulties
pertaining to Medicine, as also the difference between the soul of man and
that of the brutes; and, in the last, what the Author believes to be
required in order to greater advancement in the investigation of Nature
than has yet been made, with the reasons that have induced him to write.
Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for
every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even
who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually
desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess. And in
this it is not likely that all are mistaken the conviction is rather to be
held as testifying that the power of judging aright and of distinguishing
truth from error, which is properly what is called good sense or reason,
is by nature equal in all men; and that the diversity of our opinions,
consequently, does not arise from some being endowed with a larger share
of reason than others, but solely from this, that we conduct our thoughts
along different ways, and do not fix our attention on the same objects.
For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite
is rightly to apply it. The greatest minds, as they are capable of the
highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and
those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided
they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run,
forsake it.
For myself, I have never fancied my mind to be in any respect more perfect
than those of the generality; on the contrary, I have often wished that I
were equal to some others in promptitude of thought, or in clearness and
distinctness of imagination, or in fullness and readiness of memory. And
besides these, I know of no other qualities that contribute to the
perfection of the mind; for as to the reason or sense, inasmuch as it is
that alone which constitutes us men, and distinguishes us from the brutes,
I am disposed to believe that it is to be found complete in each
individual; and on this point to adopt the common opinion of philosophers,
who say that the difference of greater and less holds only among the
accidents, and not among the forms or natures of individuals of the same
I will not hesitate, however, to avow my belief that

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