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81. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Miroslav Hanke The Scholastic Logic of Statistical Hypotheses: proprietates terminorum, consequentiae, necessitas moralis, and probabilitas
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Among the important conceptual innovations introduced in the second scholasticism era and motivated by theological debates following the Council of Trent were the theories of moral necessity and moral implication. As they were centred upon a view of moral necessity as a form of necessity weaker than physical (and, ipso facto, metaphysical and logical) necessity, and moral implication as weaker than physical (and, ipso facto, metaphysical and logical) implication, some interpretations of moral necessity encouraged the logic of statistical hypotheses and probability. Three branches of this debate are studied in this paper: the explanation of moral necessity in terms of suppositio (Vega, Molina, Hurtado, Sforza Pallavicino), the confrontation over the interpretation of moral necessity (Quirós, Herrera), and the theory of statistical quantification (Elizalde, Terill, de Benedictis).
82. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Günter Frank “Deus vult aliquas esse certas notitias…”: Epistemological Discussions in the Philosophy of the Early Modern Period
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The theory of notitiae naturales or κοιναὶ ἔννοιαι was part of the ancient Stoic epistemology. It served as precondition of any knowledge. Within the framework of the humanist rediscovery of ancient sources this theory became an important aspect of Philipp Melanchthon’s theological anthropology. This paper examines the polyvalent perspectives of the theory of notitiae naturales in Melanchthon’s philosophy and the role it played among Lutheran and Calvinist scholars, particularly regarding Rom 1: 19, where Paul stated some kind of a natural knowledge of God. The idea of notitiae communes or “common notions” as an a priori precondition of knowledge was widely spread both on the continent and in England in early modernity. It came to an end by John Locke’s critique in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
83. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Han Thomas Adriaenssen Common Conceptions and the Metaphysics of Material Substance: Domingo de Soto, Kenelm Digby and Johannes de Raey
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This paper explores how, according to three early modern philosophers, philosophical theory should relate to our pre-theoretical picture of reality. Though coming from very different backgrounds, the Spanish scholastic, Domingo de Soto, and the English natural philosopher, Kenelm Digby, agreed that an ability to accommodate our pre-theoretical picture of the world and our ordinary way of speaking about reality is a virtue for a philosophical theory. Yet at the same time, they disagreed on what kind of ontology of the material world is implied by these. The Dutch Cartesian, Johannes de Raey, took a very different approach, and argued that the picture of reality we naturally develop from our early days onwards and the language associated with it have their use in domains such as law and medical practice, but are a poor guide to the ontology of the material world. Thus, if we are to arrive at a proper understanding of the nature of matter, we need to move beyond the picture of reality we naturally develop from our early days onwards in order to come to see that the nature of matter consists in bare extension.
84. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Mattia Mantovani Herbert of Cherbury, Descartes and Locke on Innate Ideas and Universal Consent
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The present paper investigates the seventeenth-century debate on whether the agreement of all human beings upon certain notions—designated as the “common” ones—prove these notions to be innate. It does so by focusing on Descartes’ and Locke’s rejections of the philosophy of Herbert of Cherbury, one of the most important early modern proponents of this view. The paper opens by considering the strategy used in Herbert’s arguments, as well as the difficulties involved in them. It shows that Descartes’ 1638 and 1639 reading of Herbert’s On Truth—both the 1633 second Latin edition and Mersenne’s 1639 translation—was instrumental in shaping Descartes’ views on the issue. The arguments of Locke’s Essay opposing Herbert’s case for innatism are thus revealed to be ineffective against the case which Descartes makes for this same doctrine, since Descartes had in fact framed his conception of innateness in opposition to the very same theses as Locke was arguing against. The paper concludes by explaining how two thinkers as antithetical as Locke and Descartes came to agree on at least one point, and a truly crucial one: namely, that universal consent counts as a criterion neither for innatism nor for truth.
85. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Markku Roinila Common Notions and Instincts as Sources of Moral Knowledge in Leibniz’s New Essays on Human Understanding
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In his defense of innateness in New Essays on Human Understanding (1704), Leibniz attributes innateness to concepts and principles which do not originate from the senses rather than to the ideas that we are born with. He argues that the innate concepts and principles can be known in two ways: through reason or natural light (necessary truths), and through instincts (other innate truths and principles). In this paper I will show how theoretical and moral reasoning differ from each other in Leibniz, and compare moral reasoning and instincts as sources of knowledge in his practical philosophy. As the practical instincts are closely related to pleasure and passions, which are by nature cognitive, my emphasis will be on the affective character of instinctive moral action and especially deliberation which leads to moral action. I will argue that inclinations arising from moral instinct, which lead us to pleasure while avoiding sorrow, can direct our moral action and sometimes anticipate reasoning when conclusions are not readily available. Acting by will, which is related to moral reasoning, and acting by instincts can lead us to the same moral knowledge independently, but they can also complement each other. To illustrate the two alternative ways to reach moral knowledge, I will discuss the case of happiness, which is the goal of all human moral action for Leibniz.
86. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Andreas Blank Christian Wolff on Common Notions and Duties of Esteem
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While contemporary accounts understand esteem and self-esteem as essentially competitive phenomena, early modern natural law theorists developed a conception of justified esteem and self-esteem based on naturally good character traits. This article explores how such a normative conception of esteem and self-esteem is developed in the work of Christian Wolff (1679–1754). Two features make Wolff’s approach distinctive: (1) He uses the analysis of common notions that are expressed in everyday language to provide a foundation for the aspects of natural law on which his conception of natural duties of esteem depends. (2) He develops a non-competitive conception of esteem and self-esteem into a cooperative conception, according to which enhancing the esteem in which others are held is seen as a tool for promoting self-perfection. Wolff’s ideas offer a solution to the well-known problems connected with competitive life-styles, and at the same time assign a central role in moral motivation to the desire of being esteemed and of having high self-esteem. Moreover, due to his emphasis on presenting a philosophical analysis based on common notions, he offers a solution that is meant to be persuasive from the perspective of everyday morality.
87. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Oana Matei Sur le progres des sciences: Maupertuis and Bacon on the Advancement of Knowledge
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This paper investigates the Baconian roots of Maupertuis’s Lettre XIX. Sur le Progrès des Sciences (1752). The Letter was published almost a decade after Maupertuis had accepted Frederick II’s invitation to move from Paris to Berlin and become the new President of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Contrary to the secondary literature that identifies a distinction between Maupertuis’s Parisian and Berliner phases, this paper argues that there is in fact greater continuity between the two. Based on a reading that empha­sizes the programmatic and methodological commonalities between Bacon’s project in De augmentis scientiarum (1623) and Maupertuis’s Lettre XIX, this paper argues that, in a Baconian fashion, Maupertuis combines the roles of the “scientist” and the “natural philosopher” into an integrated plan of action with both intellectual an institutional aims. One of Maupertuis’s aims was to highlight the importance of observation and experiment not only in the development of natural philosophy but also for some aspects of speculative philosophy, while another of his aims was to reinvigorate the structure of the Berlin Academy and to model it the fashion of other similar European intellectual projects of that time.
88. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Pietro Daniel Omodeo A Cosmos Without a Creator: Cesare Cremonini’s Interpretation of Aristotle’s Heaven
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In the years after the first circulation of Sidereus Nuncius, Galileo’s Padua anti-Copernican colleague, the staunch Aristotelian philosopher, Cesare Cremonini, published a book on ‘traditional’ cosmology, Disputatio de coelo in tres partes divisa (Venice, 1613) which puzzled the Roman authorities of the Inquisition and the Index much more than any works on celestial novelties and ‘neo-Pythagorean’ astronomy. Cremonini’s disputation on the heavens has the form of an over-intricate comment of Aristotle’s conceptions, in the typi­cally argumentative style of Scholasticism. Nonetheless, it immediately raised the concern of Cardinal Bellarmin, the Pope and other Inquisitors. At a close reading, Cremonini’s interpretation of Aristotle’s cosmos proved radically anti- Christian. It represented a radicalization of Pomponazzian Alexandrism. In fact, Cremonini did not only circulate Aristotelian principles used by Pom­ponazzi to argue for the soul’s mortality (first, no thought is possible without imagination and the latter faculty is dependent on the body; secondly, all that is generated will eventually perish). He also wiped away all transcendence from the Aristotelian cosmos. In fact, he marginalized the function of the motive Intelligences by explaining heavenly motions through the action of animal-like inseparable souls although he did not erase nor reduced all Intelligences to only one, in accordance with Alexander. Also, he put at the center of Aristotle’s cosmos the idea of its eternity, a thesis which he explicitly connected with the rejection of the idea of God the Creator. Cremonini assumed that the univer­sal efficiens, that is the efficient cause of all motion and change in the world, is nothing but the first heaven. As a result of this radically naturalist reading of Aristotle, he banned God from the cosmos, reduced Him to the final cause of the world, and deprived Him of any efficiency and will. This essay on less ex­plored sources of Renaissance astronomical debates considers the institutional, cultural and religious setting of Cremonini’s teaching and conceptions. It as­sesses the reasons for his troubles with the religious authorities, and the politi­cal support he was granted by the Serenissima Republic of Venice inspite of the scandalous opinions he circulated as a university professor. My reconstruction of his views is based on the Disputatio de coelo of 1613 and later works, which are directly connected with cosmo-theological polemics with the religious au­thorities: his Apologia dictorum Aristotelis de quinta coeli substantia (1616) and the unpublished book De coeli efficientia, two manuscript copies of which are preserved in the libraries of Padua and Venice.
89. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Russell Smith Light Path: On the Realist Mathematisation of Motion in the Seventeenth Century
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This paper focuses on the mathematisation of mechanics in the seventeenth century, specifically on how the representation of compounded rectilinear motions presented in the ancient Greek Mechanica found its way into Newton’s Principia almost two thousand years later. I aim to show that the path from the former to the latter was optical: the conceptualisation of geometrical lines as paths of reflection created a physical interpretation of dia­grammatic principles of geometrical point-motion, involving the kinematics and dynamics of light reflection. Upon the atomistic conception of light, the optical interpretation of such geometrical principles entailed their mechanical generalisation to local motion; rectilinear motion via the physico-mathemat­ics of reflection and the Mechanica’s parallelogram rule; circular motion via the physico-mathematics of reflection, the Archimedean squaring of the circle and the Mechanica’s extension of the parallelogram rule to centripetal motion. This appeal to the physico-mathematics of reflection forged a realist founda­tion for the mathematisation of motion. Whereas Aristotle’s physics rested on motions which had their source in the nature of the elements, early modern thinkers such as Harriot, Descartes, and Newton based their new principles of mechanical motion upon selected elements of the mechanics of light motion, projected upon the geometry of the parallelogram rule for rectilinear and, ultimately, circular motion.
90. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Peter Strohschneider Foreigners in Pre-Modernity: On Losses of Negatability and Gains of Unfamiliarity
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The essay draws on the concept of ‘asymmetric counter-concepts’ as developed by Reinhart Koselleck starting with twin-formulas such as ‘the familiar and the unfamiliar’ which are generally used to establish collective des­ignations of the self and others and which institutionalize the axiological and the epistemological. These counter-concepts can have different semantic temperatures. The focus is on the underlying meaning-production schemes which produce value-asymmetries. The essay tries to show that a process of heating up these value-asymmetries is only one side of the history of such asymmetric counter-concepts from medieval to modern times. Simultaneously a cooling down can be observed in written texts from different periods; examples include the 12th century Rolandslied and the 16th century Essais of Michel de Montaigne. Full negation eliminates uncertainties and value insecurities. But the complexities and contingencies that emerge since Early Modern times then lead to losses of negatability (Negierbarkeitsverluste), which in turn render gains in unfamiliarity. The modern experience of the foreign is indeterminate otherness instead of determined negation that characterized pre-modern alterity. Modern societies therefore need to mediate between validity and contingency under the circumstances of plurality. Interpretational demands and uncertainty about the relevant interpretive frames increase. Foreignness is then experienced as unfamiliarity. This presupposes intellectual attitudes like irritability, curiosity, and willingness to learn. The modern concept of ‘culture’ then is proposed as a comparative pattern where only unavoidable structural asymmetry remains. It explains cultural differences and the experience of foreignness through heterogeneity. Using this specifically modern pattern, there is no longer a legitimate value slope between one’s own position and its negation. The distinction is then between the familiar and the unfamiliar.
91. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Petr Pavlas Lex secundum quam disponuntur omnia: Trichotomic Trees in Jan AmosKomenský’s Pansophical Metaphysics and Metaphorics
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The goal of this article is to detail the opposition to “Ramean tree” dichotomic divisions which emerged in the age of swelling Antitrinitarianism, especially Socinianism. Scholars such as Bartholomaeus Keckermann, Jan Amos Komenský and Richard Baxter made a point of preferring the trichotomic to the dichotomic division of Petrus Ramus and the Ramist tradition. This paper tracks the origin of Komenský’s “universal triadism” as present in his book metaphorics and in his metaphysics. Komenský’s triadic book metaphorics (the notion of nature, human mind and Scripture as “the triple book of God”) has its source in late sixteenth-century Lutheran mysticism and theosophy, mediated perhaps by Heinrich Khunrath and, above all, by Johann Heinrich Alsted. Komenský’s metaphysics follows the same triadic pattern. What is more, Komenský illustrates both these domains by means of Ramist-like bracketed trees; regarding book metaphorics, clearly his sources are Khunrath and Alsted. Although inspirations from Lullus, Sabundus and Nicholas of Cusa are most probably involved, the crucial role has to be ascribed to the influence of Lutheran mysticism and Alsted’s “Lullo-Ramism.”
92. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Jo van Cauter Spinoza on Revealed Religion and the Uses of Fear
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This paper argues that fear constitutes an important part of Spinoza’s redefined version of revealed religion as presented in the Theological-Political Treatise. My claim is not only that obedience as conceived by Spinoza always entails fear, but that the biblical image of God as king or lawgiver requires fear to fulfill its function; and thus, by extension, that fear remains one of the very tissues that binds together the body politic. Although, throughout his corpus of work, Spinoza often associates fear with cognitive weakness and a destabilizing temperament, he also acknowledges its potential use for sustaining civic concord. My argument is both positive and negative: the state can foster support for itself by the proper utilization of religious fear, but if it neglects to do so, it undermines its stability and risks falling victim to the destructive effects of superstition.
93. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Nicla Riverso Behind the Scenes: Paolo Sarpi, a Natural Philosopher Friar
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My article explores Paolo Sarpi’s achievements in natural philosophy in order to define his contribution to the intellectual milieu of his time. Sarpi’s role as a natural philosopher has been underestimated, due to the fact that his research has been unpublished and has largely perished: his works on natural philosophy and his scientific discoveries were recorded in his private papers and diaries, kept in the Servite monastery in Venice, which was entirely destroyed by fire in 1769. I explain how Sarpi, because of his conflicts and strained relations with the Church of Rome, did not want to publish on natural philosophy, and I demonstrate how he operated in “silence,” cooperating with other natural philosophers behind the scenes in order to make important discoveries. Bringing up what is left of Sarpi’s writings, I examine the Servite’s accomplishments in physics and magnetism, and compare them with those of Gilbert, Garzoni, and Galileo. Through a careful analysis on passages from Sarpi’s correspondence and Pensieri, by focusing on his achievements in magnetism, I show that his research on magnetic fields had a significant bearing on his study of terrestrial motion and I point out how his study helped him to take his place among those scholars who led Galileo to develop his theory on motion and gravity.
94. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Sergius Kodera Needles and Pins on the Scaffold: Francis Bacon and Giovan Battista della Porta on the Motions of the Human Soul and the Passions of the Lodestone
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This article discusses the powers of the lodestone for two authors, Francis Bacon and Giovan Battista della Porta, relating their observations on magnetism and human emotions to the field of learned natural magic. It investigates some of Bacon’s and Porta’s remarks on experimental work with lodestones and the ways in which both authors translated the inexplicable powers of lodestones and magnetized iron into a series of principles that also served as a structure and explanation of human emotions (and vice versa). I suggest that at work here is not merely an anthropomorphic projection at nature, but also (and conversely) an interest in and fascination with the naturalization and mechanization of human emotions. My contribution examines passages from Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, the Novum organum, the Sylva sylvarum and his Essays; from Della Porta’s Magia naturalis (second edition 1589) and his comedy Sorella (1604). First, the insight that Bacon’s and Della Porta’s perception of magnetic movements have a strong common bias: the identification with human emotions. Both authors postulate not merely a close analogy, but a mutual convertibility between the two phenomena and with animal spirits. Second, this syn-optic approach is no one-way-street merely creating a characteristic perception of the phenomenon of magnetism: it also conditions the modes in which the human mind and emotions are perceived. Third, emotions—in particular love and hatred—are in principle as predictable as the movements of attraction and repulsion exercised by iron and lodestone.
95. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Claudia Dumitru Francis Bacon and the Aristotelian Tradition on the Nature of Sound
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Centuries II and III of Francis Bacon’s posthumous natural history Sylva Sylvarum are largely dedicated to sound. This paper claims that Bacon’s investigation on this topic is fruitfully read against the background of the Aristotelian theory of sound, as presented in De anima commentaries. I argue that Bacon agreed with the general lines of this tradition in a crucial aspect: he rejected the reduction of sound to local motion. Many of the experimental instances and more theoretical remarks from his natural history of sound can be elucidated against this wider concern of distinguishing sound from motion, a theme that had been a staple of Aristotelian discussions of sound and hearing since the Middle Ages. Bacon admits that local motion is part of the efficient cause of sound, but he denies that it is its form, which means that sound cannot be reduced to a type of local motion. This position places him outside subsequent developments in natural philosophy in the seventeenth century.
96. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Doina-Cristina Rusu Spiders, Ants, and Bees: Francis Bacon and the Methodology of Natural Philosophy
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This paper argues that the methodology Francis Bacon used in his natural histories abides by the theoretical commitments presented in his methodological writings. On the one hand, Bacon advocated a middle way between idle speculation and mere gathering of facts. On the other hand, he took a strong stance against the theorisation based on very few facts. Using two of his sources whom Bacon takes to be the reflection of these two extremes—Giambattista della Porta as an instance of idle speculations, and Hugh Platt as an instance of gathering facts without extracting knowledge—I show how Bacon chose the middle way, which consists of gathering facts and gradually extracting theory out of them. In addition, it will become clear how Bacon used the expertise of contemporary practitioners to criticise fantastical theories and purge natural history of misconceived notions and false speculations.
97. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Daniel Garber Margaret Cavendish among the Baconians
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Margaret Cavendish is a very difficult thinker to place in context. Given her stern critique of the “experimental philosophy” in the Observations on the Experimental Philosophy, one might be tempted to place Cavendish among the opponents of Francis Bacon and his experimental thought. But, I argue, her rela­tion to Baconianism is much more subtle than that would suggest. I begin with an overview of Cavendish’s philosophical program, focusing mainly on her later natural philosophical thought in Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1663), Philosophical Letters (1664), Observations on the Experimental Philosophy (1666/68) and her Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668). I then turn to Francis Bacon, and talk about how he understood his philosophical program in the 1620s, and how it had been transformed by later Baconians in the 1650s and 1660s. While Bacon held a vitalistic natural philosophy, what was most visible, particularly in Royal Society propaganda, was his experimentalism. But Margaret Cavendish’s natural philosophical program is, in a way, the exact contrary. While she was skeptical of Bacon’s experimentalism, she was an enthusiastic advocate for a vitalistic materialism that may well have been inspired, at least in part, by Bacon’s thought. Because of her opposition to the experimental philosophy, her contemporaries may not have seen her as a Baconian. But even so I think that she was a philosopher whom Bacon himself would have recognized as a kindred spirit.
98. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Michael Deckard Of the Beard of a Wild Oat: Hooke and Cavendish on the Senses of Plants
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In 1665–1666, both Margaret Cavendish and Robert Hooke wrote about the beard of a wild oat. After looking through the microscope at the wild oat, Hooke describes the nature of what he is seeing in terms of a “small black or brown bristle” and believes that the microscope can improve the human senses. Cavendish responds to him regarding the seeing of the texture of a wild oat through the microscope and critiques his mechanistic explanation. This paper takes up the controversy between Cavendish and Hooke regarding the wild oat as two forms of a broadly Baconian enterprise. Challenging Lisa Walters and Eve Keller, who suppose that Cavendish was against the “Baconian enterprise as a whole,” the argument in this paper is that Cavendish is opposed to Hooke’s defense of instruments as recovering Edenic glory in the Micrographia, but not to the Baconian enterprise as a whole.
99. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Silvia Manzo Francis Bacon's Quasi-Materialism and its Nineteenth-Century Reception (Joseph de Maistre and Karl Marx)
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This paper will address the nineteenth-century reception of Bacon as an exponent of materialism in Joseph de Maistre and Karl Marx. I will argue that Bacon’s philosophy is “quasi-materialist.” The materialist components of his philosophy were noticed by de Maistre and Marx, who, in addition, point­ed out a Baconian materialist heritage. Their construction of Bacon’s figure as the leader of a materialist lineage ascribed to his philosophy a revolutionary import that was contrary to Bacon’s actual leanings. This contrast shows how different the contexts were within which materialism was conceived and valued across the centuries, and how far philosophical and scientific discourses may be transformed by their receptions, to the point that in many cases they could hardly be embraced by the authors of these discourses.
100. Journal of Early Modern Studies: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Patrick Brissey Reasons for the Method in Descartes’ Discours
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In the practical philosophy of the Discours de la Méthode, before the theoretical metaphysics of Part Four and the Meditationes, Descartes gives us an inductive argument that his method, the procedure and cognitive psychology, is veracious at its inception. His evidence, akin to his Scholastic predecessors, is God, a maximally perfect being, established an ontological foundation for knowledge such that reason and nature are isomorphic. Further, the method, he tells us, is a functional definition of human reason; that is, like other rationalists during this period, he holds the structure of reason maps onto the world. The evidence for this thesis is given in what I call the groundwork to Descartes’ philosophical system, essentially the first half of the Discours, where, through a series of examples in the preamble of Part Two, he, step-by-step, ascends from the perfection of artifacts through the imposition of reason (the Architect Example) to the perfection of a constituent’s use of her cognitive faculties (the Wise-Lawgiver Example), to God perfecting and ordering reality (the Divine Artificer Example). Finally, he descends, establishing the structure of human reason, which undergirds and entails the procedure of the method (the Laws of Sparta Example).