Friday, July 13, 2012


p. 115 in vol 1 the philosophical writings of descartes

that is why, as soon as i was old enough to emerge from the control od my teachers, i entirely abandoned the study of letters. resolving to seek no knowledge other than that which could be found in myself or else in the great book of the world, i spent the rest of my youth traveling, visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of diverse temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the situations which fortune offered me, and at all times reflecting upon whatever came my way so as to derive some profit from it.

...for it seemed to me that much more truth could be found in the reasonings which a man makes concerning matters that concern him than in those which some scholar makes in his study about speculative matters..

p. 117
and so i thought that since the sciences contained in books - at least those based upon merely probably, not demonstrative, reasoning - is compounded and amassed little by little from the opinions of many different persons, it never comes so close to the truth as the simple reasoning which a man of good sense naturally makes concerning whatever he comes across. so, too, i reflected that we were all children before being men and had to be governed for some time by our appetites and our teachers which were often opposed to each other and neither of which, perhaps, always gave us the best advice; hence i thought it virtually impossible that our judgements should be as unclouded and firm as they would have been if we had had the full use of our reason from the moment of our birth, and if we had always been guided by it alone.