Stage 3 (Journeyman): Meditations on First Philosophy, preface 1

Author: Rene Descartes

Retold by Cuong Vu

PREFACE 1: LETTER OF DEDICATION

This Treatise(1) is originally aimed to publish for the learning and researching of Descartes’ beloved Dean and the Faculty of Theology(2) of Paris.

  1. Rene assured the readers on the validation(3) and the rationality(4) in his motive to write the Treatise. He also recommended protection from his colleagues.
  2. He believed that the questions regarding God and the human Soul should be solved and meditated(5) on the grounds of Philosophy than those of Theology. Despite his faith towards God and Christianity, Descartes did not disclaim other religions and moralities.
  3. Although some people thought that the human Soul dies with the body, Descartes still believed that there is a spiritual difference between the two, and that there is an afterlife.
  4. Most of the oppositions to the belief that God exists and the Soul is distinct from the body were because of the lack of demonstrations(6) performed on this issue. However, Decartes thought that with thorough  understanding of available proofs by his ascendants(7), demonstration for those issues would no longer be needed.
  5. All of Descartes’ findings and meditations were presented in the Treatise. While he was not confident that his findings would sufficiently(8) answer every question asked regarding the subject of Philosophy, Descartes was sure that his work was based upon solid evidence. He also added that there need not be a work covering  all reasons for believing.
  6. Ideas crucial(9) to the subject were believed by Descartes to be superior(10) to mortals. And so was the glory of God. Having said that, he excused himself and asked for a little bit of freedom in expressing his own meditations.
  7. In geometry, people accepted that some phenomenons(11) and theories were true, while not understanding them. Similarly, Philosophy, or at least Descartes’ Philosophy, requires a higher level of comprehension(12) and a mind free from prejudice(13). Descartes’ Philosophy puts doubts and question marks on every matter, but not much effort into finding the truth and answers.
  8. Since all the  meditations done by Descartes were supposed to serve the subject of Philosophy, he hoped that they would not effect or reform(14) much of his colleagues’ beliefs and faiths, unless they become fully supportive of his work and ideals. Descartes also hoped his colleagues at Sorbonne would consider his work as a piece of reference and feel free to correct its errors. Descartes also requested that the Sacred Councils give his work their approval when the matter of God and The Human Soul is made clear and truthfully proven. Only then will the errors in his work be erased in the minds of men.
  9. Lastly, Descartes expressed his dedication to accept  God’s and the Human Soul’s existence, as well as his hope that the Councils’ testimonies(15) would erase the spirit of opposition in the minds of unbelievers.

+ GLOSSARY

  1. treatise(n): a methodically and thoroughly written discussion of a topic
  2. theology(n): study of God and religion
  3. validation(n) – validate (v): to establish the soundness, accuracy, or legitimacy of something

  4. rationality(n): the quality or state of being agreeable to reason
  5. meditate(v): to think about deeply and quietly,reflect upon;to plan, intend
  6. demonstration(n): a show or display
  7. ascendant(n): one who precedes in lineage (parent, grandparent); an ancestor.
  8. sufficiently(adv): enough; in a satisfying manner
  9. crucial(adj): very important
  10. superior(Adj): above; at a higher level
  11. phenomenon(n): a fact, occurrence, or circumstance observed or observable; something remarkable or extraordinary
  12. comprehension(n): understanding
  13. prejudice(n): a rigid attitude that is based on group membership and predisposes an individual to feel, think or act in a negative way toward another person or group.
  14. reform(v):to improve by alteration, correction of error, or removal of defects
  15. testimony(n): statement in support of something, often under an oath

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