Descartes speaks to the great public by presenting his method to all different types of readers. He wants one to apply a distinctive type of thinking. It can be seen that Descartes wants the public to interpret his method in a unique way.
The author aims to communicate with the readers, regardless of one’s status or social background. He wants one to be able to discover his method and their own method. Descartes wants one to know about his discovery on method and explains how one can achieve this discovery. Although, he was living in a period of scientific discovery and philosophy of censorship, which could have made it difficult for individuals to accept his contradicting theory in the 17th century. Despite this, he undertakes one by communicating to a variety of readers; individuals from different social classes and backgrounds to inform them about his spiritually free mind about his method. For instance, Descartes starts his method by revealing his known personal life experiences, his perspective of what he thinks is the best knowledge. His intentions were to prove a method which was outside societal norms and values of 17th century. The author challenges society by questioning religion, the great chain of being and his philosophy. In this essay I will be focusing on this subject as well as looking at physical space were one meets to discuss their methods and theory. Descartes’ development on the idea of speaking to individuals is shown in the introduction by adopting a soft, warm semi-formal, welcoming tone with the readers by using simplistic genre and phatic language. An example of this is; he uses metaphors around his writing but he is not asking one to understand the metaphors. He creates a calm atmosphere by not using mathematical jargons or philosophical lexical fields. Descartes wants to engage with the readers by starting his method as a philosopher instead of a philosophy. “I shall be very happy to reveal in this discourse the paths I have taken, and to present my life as in a picture, so that each may judge it, and so learning from what the public thinks of it.”(1:28)
This quotation implies that Descartes approach to communicate with the great public is by being open-hearted and does not mind helping individuals improve their knowledge. He wants one to feel content with his discovery: he starts his method in a chronological order, beginning with his autobiography. The reason for this is; Descartes wants one to build up their reasons, to break and plan one’s structures and beliefs. However, it can be seen that Descartes needs time to convince one as the text follows a scientific structure; to understand it he is required to explain his experiences. For instance Descartes wants one to respect or to perhaps show admiration that he practices the art of using language of fluency, “I greatly esteemed eloquence and was in love with poetry but I thought both were gifts of the mind rather than the fruit of study” (1:31). This quotation shows that Descartes does not give his knowledge of the world. He feels like if poetry is missing then life would be incomplete.
“For I was assailed by so many doubts and errors that the only profit I appeared to have drawn from trying to become educated, was progressively to have discovered my ignorance. (1:29)”
This implies that Descartes may have been highly educated however he is also lacking knowledge. In other words, he is saying that he himself is not perfect, there is some missing information in his life too, and one can make mistakes. However, Descartes is a rationalist therefore he wants to gain knowledge. It can be seen that knowledge is presented to him in a sceptical way; he can be seen as more privileged than a common man-“but, putting forward this essay as nothing more than an historical account”. (1:29)