René Descartes Quotes

I think; therefore I am. If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it. Doubt is the origin of wisdom. It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well. To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say. I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto 'to live well you must live unseen. Masked, I advance. You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing. In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life to doubt, as far as possible, of all things. For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than the increasing discovery of my own ignorance. He who hid well, lived well. In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate. There is nothing more ancient than the truth. To live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them. It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived. The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues. And thus, the actions of life often not allowing any delay, it is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine the most true opinions we ought to follow the most probable. Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power. Conquer yourself rather than the world. I suppose therefore that all things I see are illusions; I believe that nothing has ever existed of everything my lying memory tells me. I think I have no senses. I believe that body, shape, extension, motion, location are functions. What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain. The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries. Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems. With me, everything turns into mathematics. Because reason... is the only thing that makes us men, and distinguishes us from the beasts, I would prefer to believe that it exists, in its entirety, in each of us... Bad books engender bad habits, but bad habits engender good books. Good sense is the most equitably distributed of all things because no matter how much or little a person has, everyone feels so abundantly provided with good sense that he feels no desire for more than he already possesses. At last I will devote myself sincerely and without reservation to the general demolition of my opinions. Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.

René Descartes

1596 - 1650