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The Dating of Rule IV-B in Descartes's Regulae ad directionem mgenu FREDERICK VAN DE PITTE INCIDENTALTO THE STUDYof Descartes's method, there has been a discussion in recent years concerning the date of certain passages in the Regulae.Because this work was among the fragments left by Descartes at the time of his death, the exact date of the entire manuscript was for many years in doubt. Now, however, it is generally agreed that the work was completed about ~628-except for two rather short segments. The framework for this discussion was set by Jean-Paul Weber in his careful analysis of the structure of the Regulaein 1964.1 Weber determined that there was sufficient evidence to maintain that a portion of Rule IV, and a portion of Rule VIII, should be considered distinct from the remainder of the manuscript and separately dated. His position is based primarily on the fact that, in the Hanover manuscript, ~these two segments were placed in an order quite different from the sequence to be found in the printed versions of the work: the section of Rule IV was found to be an appendix concluding the entire manuscript; while the section of Rule VIII was set at the end, rather than in the midst of that rule.a Since Descartes's original manuscript has been completely lost, there is little basis for dating these distinguishable elements, except perhaps by evaluating their contents. J.-P. Weber, La Constitution du texte des Regulae (Paris: Soci~t~ d'~dition d'enseignement sup~rieur, 1964). For a survey of the various versions of the Regulae, see Reni Descartes,Regulae ad directionem ingenii, texte critique [tabli par Giovanni CrapuUi (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966), xi-xxxiii. s These segments were already clearly marked in the standard edition of the works of Descartes: (Euvres de Descartes (hereafter AT), ed. C. Adam and P. Tannery (Paris: Cerf, 1897-1913 ), 2nd ed. (Paris: Vrin, 1966-76 ). The section of Rule IV under discussion: Volume ao, pp. 374-79; that of Rule VIII: pp. 393-96. See The PhilosophicalWritings ofDescartes, 2 vols. (hereafter CSM), trans. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 1: 17-2o, and 28-3o. [3751 376 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 29:3 JULY 1991 Weber focuses on the fact that the section of Rule IV (which he labels 1V-B) makes use of the term Mathesis universalis, which he translates as "universal Mathematics." Because he recognizes that Descartes intended his method to be applicable to all aspects of learning, rather than merely to mathematics, Weber concludes that IV-B must be a fragment from an earlier version of this work, probably stemming from the period up to 16i 9 when Descartes was specifically concerned with mathematics.4 The other section of Rule IV (IV-A) simply refers to method without further clarification, i.e., without the stipulation that it must be a universal or general method. Therefore, precisely because it is unspecified, Weber feels justified in assuming that this represents Descartes 's mature view, in which method is not restricted to mathematics. As previously indicated, there is no independent evidence for this preference of IV-A over IV-B. The entire weight of Weber's argument rests upon his translation of Mathesis universalis as "universal Mathematics." This is the traditional translation of the term, and the word 'mathematics' (or its equivalent) has been employed as the appropriate term to convey mathesis in virtually every translation that has been done from the original Latin, whether into Dutch, French, German, English, or some other language. But recently, Jean-Luc Marion has pointed out some very good reasons for not translating mathesis at all, but rather retaining it as a distinct term in any version of Rule IV.5 This would deprive Weber of any basis for his theory, since, ifMathesis universalis does not mean "universal Mathematics," then there is no reason for insisting that it relates to Descartes's earlier ("mathematical") period. My own contribution to this discussion consisted in pointing out that Descartes employs three distinct terms in IV-B,6 and that there is strong prima facie evidence, therefore, to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 375-395
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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