I returned to this college text with a renewed sense of confidence. Several years, and much reading and thinking, had passed since I last picked it up. As it turned out, my confidence was partially warranted. But I admit to not being able to stay on the train of thought consistently. Perhaps this is due to a lack of intellectual rigor and preparation, a testament to Descartes’ powerful mind. Or perhaps he himself was rambling and undisciplined. It’s certainly fashionable to dis Descartes in today’s cleverly counter-intuitive climate. I give him the benefit of the doubt, gentleman that I am.
This much is clear: he learned from a great teacher — the clear voice that arises in silence and solitude. And in that inner territory, with so few familiar landmarks, he cleared a trail of sorts. The problem of Cartesian rationalism is not with any flaw in Descartes’ thinking, but in the false assumption that it is the only possible path. Philosophy is intended to be public: let those who have ears, hear. Let those who have better ideas, speak.