By John Marshall
Such a lot Cartesian students concentrate on the metaphysical and epistemological features of the philosopher's texts. during this lengthy awaited quantity, John Marshall invitations us to reassess Ren Descartes as an ethicist. via an unconventional learn of his statements approximately morality present in such writings because the Discourse at the technique, the Passions of the Soul, and diverse correspondence, Marshall indicates how Descartes proven and elaborated his previous "provisional morality" in his later works. Marshall demonstrates that Descartes left an absolutely built notion of ethical advantage and happiness besides different money owed of values and norms, and he expands on those debts to explain Cartesian ethical concept as an entire. He discusses the morale par provision of the Discourse, treats Descartes's "final morality" via concentrating on his account of advantage, and units out a Cartesian concept of worth and process of tasks. during the textual content he makes use of a variety of quotations to demonstrate Descartes's reviews on ethics, and he considers perspectives of alternative commentators reminiscent of Gueroult.
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Extra resources for Descartes's Moral Theory
3. Certainly, part of the problem ____________________ 3. The paradox is familiar from ancient Stoicism. The Stoics would classify the end, in this case, as at once indifferent and preferred. The only true good, they would argue—good in the sense of being in accord with nature or reason—is the manner of acting, not the state of affairs or end sought. " One line of thought is this: if I seek some end as itself choiceworthy and justify my acting in terms of its value, I can be said to desire it. According to another line of thought, I cannot rationally desire what I judge to be impossible.
The correct answer, I believe, is straightforwardly. Descartes takes himself to be such a traveler; while engaged in pure enquiry, he is a traveler in everyday life. The general rule for those who travel in terrain where the best path has no certain marks is to choose the most probably correct path and to stay on it. Staying on the path is precisely what following reason in conditions of uncertainty amounts to. Indeed, staying on a path of which the traveler knows for certain that it is best is what following reason in conditions of certainty amounts to.
Jon Elster, guided, it seems, by the traveler example, reads Descartes's second maxim as an empirically justified procedure for achieving rationality by indirect means. " The question posed is this: Should we try to decide ____________________ 6. I do not mean to suggest that even at the time of the Discourse Descartes believed such a science of first-order ethics was possible. He certainly did not think that in matters of ordinary prudence, where the crucial governing beliefs are beliefs about future consequences of action, we could have clear and distinct knowledge of what is best to do.