Descartes’ Discours as a Plan for a Universal Science

Studia UBB. Philosophia [Special Issue on Descartes' Scientific and Philosophical Disputes with His Contemporaries] 58 (2):37-60 (2013)
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My thesis is that Descartes wrote the Discours as a plan for a universal science, as he originally entitled it. I provide an interpretation of his letters that suggests that after Descartes began drafting his Dioptrics, he started developing a system that incorporated his early treatises from the 1630s: Les Méteores, Le Monde, L’Homme, and his 1629 Traité de métaphysique. I argue against the mosaic and autobiographic interpretations that claim these were independent treatises or stages in Descartes’ life. Rather, I hold that threat of condemnation concerning his heliocentric thesis resulted in him suppressing his larger project and, instead, he published a plan where he outlined his ongoing system of philosophy.



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Patrick Brissey
University of South Carolina

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