Rules for the Direction of the Mind

Rules for the Direction of the Mind - Rene Descartes The book ends right when it starts getting really interesting. It’s an unfinished work and ends just as he’s getting into the Cartesian coordinate system as an example of deduction from clear and distinct truths. I’m sure he would have totally lost me had he continued with his geometric examples, but I’m intrigued. At the very least, he has reinforced my belief that understanding geometry is a key component to understanding him and the Greek philosophers who came before.

Most of this short book is Descartes cutting through bullshit. He reinforces his belief that all thinking must begin from a focus on basic principles which can be reflected and understood intuitively. Again, a return to his “clear and distinct test” for truth. He has no patience for thinkers who wish to complicate simple concepts and hide behind needlessly verbose positions to mask their simple conclusions. Likewise, he has no patience for those who wish to build sublime arguments based on shaky foundations.

Though his arguments will never persuade those who insist that basic, first truths can be found through logical deductive or inductive reasoning, I find Descartes’ shameless willingness to embrace intuitive understanding liberating. Though finding foundation in intuition, he still remains rigorous in establishing semi-objective standards to find truth.

In conclusion, many can and do effectively disagree with his arguments. However, he was brilliant and sincere. A seemingly rare combination.