The Minimal Method of Descartes

Marco Aurélio Sousa Alves


What is, after all, the famous method of Descartes? The brief and vague passages devoted to this subject in Descartes’ corpus have always puzzled his readers. In this paper, I investigate not only the two essays in which it is directly addressed (the Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii, and the Discours de la Méthode), but also his scientific works and correspondence. I finally advocate an interpretation that makes the best sense of his overt comments as well as of his actual scientific practice. Contrary to widely accepted views, I argue that there are no substantial discontinuities in his understanding of his own method, or between his theory and practice. I claim, by contrast, that Descartes advocated a minimal method: a method that says little, but that, nonetheless, marks a revolutionary rupture with the existing forms of explanation.

Palabras clave

Descartes, method, scientific explanation

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EDUNTREF – Editorial de la Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero. Centro Cultural Borges, Viamonte esq. San Martín 3p. (C1053ABK) Ciudad de Buenos Aires, República Argentina. ISSN 1853-2330.