By R. J. Butler
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But then he could not have said, what he also wanted to say, that there was a single scale of freedom on which the liberty of indifference occupied the lowest place. This shows that Descartes' theory of freedom will not do as a philosophical account; but it is an incoherence which was present in the theory from the beginning. The doctrine of the Meditations, the Principles and the letters is all of a piece. I see no reason for thinking that at the age of forty-nine Descartes under went a spectacular conversion from rationalism to existentialism.
T o say a notion is imprinted on the mind, and yet at the same time to say that the mind is ignorant of it, and never yet took notice of it, is to make this impression nothing . . I f the capacity of knowing be the natural impression contended for, all the truths a man ever comes to know will, by this account, be everyone of them innate; and this great point will amount to no more, but only to a very improper way of speaking; which whilst it pretends to assert the contrary, says nothing differ ent from those who deny innate principles.
Descartes' reply necessitates a consider ation of his conception of the philosophical method which he used in the Meditations, a method of argument or proof which he contrasts directly with that of the syllogism. The authors of Objections I I suggested to him that it would make things easier for his readers were he to put his argument in the form of definitions, axioms, and postulates, as premises and then go on to theorems as conclusions from these premises. For Descartes to do this would 11 12 11 1 2 Principles, I, 39.
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