By Frederick Charles Copleston
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Extra resources for A History of Philosophy [Vol IV]
Prefatory Letter; A. , IX n, 2. , Prefatory Letter; A. , IX B, 14. , Prefatory Letter; A. , IX 5, 3. '5. : A. , X, 496. , IX B,I5. , VI, 70. A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY -IV DESCARTES (I) Secondly, he was resolved to avoid that confusion of the clear and evident with what is conjectural or at best only probable of which he accused the Scholastics. For him there was only one kind of knowledge worthy of the name, certain knowledge. Thirdly, Descartes was determined to attain and work with clear and distinct ideas and not, as he accused the Scholastics of sometimes doing, to use terms without any clear meaning or possibly without any meaning at all.
Political obligation cannot be derived from expressed consent; for we acknowledge this obligation even when there is no evidence at all of any compact or agreement. It is founded rather on a sense of self-interest. Through experience men come to feel what is for their interest and they act in certain ways without making any explicit agreements to do so. Political society and civic obedience can be justified on purely utilitarian grounds without the need of having recourse either to philosophical fictions like that of the social compact or to eternal and self-evident truths.
The Principles of Philosophy was published in Latin in 1644. It was translated into French by the Abbe Claude Picot, and this translation, after having been read by Descartes, was published in 1647, being prefaced by a letter from the author to the translator in which the plan of the work is explained. The treatise entitled The Passions of the Soul (1649) was written in French and published, more, it appears, owing to the entreaties of friends than to the author's own desire, shortly before Descartes' death.
A History of Philosophy [Vol IV] by Frederick Charles Copleston