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Slavenas P.'s A Possible Way to Discuss the Fundamental Principles of PDF

By Slavenas P.

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Extra info for A Possible Way to Discuss the Fundamental Principles of Relativity

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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.

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A Possible Way to Discuss the Fundamental Principles of Relativity by Slavenas P.


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