By Slavenas P.
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2 And in the second, probably from the same period, he wrote: “We should concern ourselves only with those objects for which our minds seem capable of certain and indubitable cognition” (AT X 362). Descartes’ conception of certainty in the Rules has two principal elements, the m ental processes that result in certainty, intuition, and deduction, and the primary objects of certainty, what Descartes calls simple natures. In Rule 3 he announces that it is only intuition and deduction that give us the sort of knowledge which he seeks: “Concern ing things proposed, one ought to seek not what others have thought, nor what we conjecture, but what we can clearly and evidently intuit or deduce with certainty; for in no other way is knowledge [saentia] ac quired” (AT X 366).
This workable procedure is the reduction of a question to m ore and m ore basic questions, ques tions that we can identify as questions whose answers are presupposed for answering the question originally posed. T here are num erous problem s with the m ethod as Descartes seems to have understood it by the late 1620s. As the exam ple shows, the intuitive step rem ains profoundly obscure; it is not at all clear how one is supposed to pass lrom a question about the nature of illum ination 36 D E S C A R T F.
Descartes’ strategy here is extremely ingenious. The stated goal of the m ethod is certain knowledge, a science deduced from intuitively known premises. So, the principal goal of the reduction seems to be an intuition from which the original question posed can be answered de ductively. But. 11 What the m ethod gives us, at least as he understood it by the late 1620s, is a workable procedure for discovering an appropriate path between intu ition and the answer to the question posed. This workable procedure is the reduction of a question to m ore and m ore basic questions, ques tions that we can identify as questions whose answers are presupposed for answering the question originally posed.
A Possible Way to Discuss the Fundamental Principles of Relativity by Slavenas P.