Show Less
Restricted access

Cartesian Rationalism

Understanding Descartes


Zbigniew Drozdowicz

Descartes gave the human intellect the central role in rationalism, his system therefore is a variant of intellectual rationalism. Other forms of rationalism had emerged in scholastic philosophy and the ancient philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. While Descartes had reservations with respect to all of them, he still adopted some of their elements: not even such a self-directed and critical philosopher as Descartes could have proceeded on the difficult journey towards truth without any baggage of tradition whatsoever. Those who treated this baggage as a useless burden and have attempted to pursue truth without carrying it, have only discovered things which had long been known.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

IV. Cartesian ontic, ontology and metaphysics


The notions of ontology and metaphysics can boast the longest presence within the philosophical tradition. Greek philosophers associated the first – derived from the Greek ontos, i.e. being – with inquiry into the nature of being, not any particular being that is, but being in general, which would include its source, variability, ordering, etc. The latter makes its first appearance in the works of Aristotle and is connected to his classification of the sciences. In the light of this classification, metaphysics involves the science situated beyond physics, and concerned with the first causes and ultimate ends of all that exists. To some extent, this is Descartes’s understanding of the concept. However, he does also give it a wider meaning, as he relates it not only to questions of the existence of beings, but also to cognitive questions, or to be more precise, to all that makes this cognition accurate. This makes it necessary to introduce the notion ontic, denoting generally such beings which feature prominently in the cognitive struggles of man, and especially of the intellectual of the Cartesian type. It is also important to other types of intellectuals, such as the scholastics. Descartes does not deny them their presence in philosophy, but he does deny them a place in rational science. He is obliged to acknowledge their presence in this domain, while opposing them in the name of his own world in philosophical and scientific polemics.

From the order of reasoning assumed by Descartes, it is impossible...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.