Descartes on Faith, Reason, and the Senses

 Posted by on 10 March 2006 at 7:25 am  Uncategorized
Mar 102006

In one of my readings for my “Medieval Origins of Modern Philosophy” class, I found this amazing comment by Descartes in the Principles of Philosophy, 1.76. I’ll let it speak for itself.

Divine authority must be out before our own perception; but, that aside, the philosopher should give his assent only to what he has perceived.

But above all else we must impress on our memory the overriding rule that whatever God has revealed to us must be accepted as more certain than anything else. And although the light of reason may, with the utmost clarity and evidence, appear to suggest something different, we must still put our entire faith in divine authority rather than in our own judgement. But on matters where we are not instructed by divine faith, it is quote unworthy of a philosopher to accept anything as true if he has never established its truth by thorough scrutiny; and he should never rely on the senses, that is, on the ill-considered judgements of its childhood, in preference to the powers of reason.

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