“The first of these was to accept nothing as true which I did not clearly recognize to be so: that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitation and prejudice in judgments, and to accept in them nothing more than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly that I could have no occasion to doubt it.”
So how about this rule? Many people tell me it’s hard to read, hard to understand, complex. But there’s a story here. The first part of the story is that we’re reading a translation, and one that was written shortly after the turn of the last century. The translator, Elizabeth Haldane, was a wonderful writer. I chose her translation because, of the many I’ve studied, she feels like the one who most channels Rene himself. To me, hers is the most readable, the easiest. Also, it’s the most poetic to me, and I like that.
Next, we have to go back to the 1630′s to understand that when Rene decided to publish his Discourse, and opted to write it in French, NOT Latin, his decision was revolutionary. To my knowledge, no philosophy had ever been written in a vernacular language – as opposed to Latin or Greek – before. Sadly, I don’t read French. But, if you go back over the rule above you’ll notice something this time. There are NO technical terms.
So why is it so hard for most of us today to read stuff like this? For one, we just never get into the spirit of it. Second, and this is the big one, I think, we just go too damn fast. But, let me say that another way. We were taught to read silently. We never read out loud. Give it a try. Read the rule above to anyone, of any age, but read it slowly and ask them to focus on it in the following way. Ask them what part of this rule – or maybe even the whole thing – do they disagree with? What part do they reject?
If your friend doesn’t blow you off completely, you should have a very interesting conversation. Give it a try.
Now, let’s think about that word “reject.” Well wait, we should relist our parts enumeration from yesterday again first:
1. Only Accept
2. As True
3. What I Clearly Recognize
4. Avoiding Precipitation
5. Avoiding Prejudice
6. Accept Nothing More Than
7. What is Presented
8. To My Mind
9. So Clearly
10. And Distinctly
11. That I Can Have
12. No Occasion
13. To Doubt It – and “It” means…
a. What Was Presented
b. (To) My Mind
c. My Mind’s Grasp
Tomorrow, I’ll explain why I flipped Rene’s negative leaning into a positive one here. Today, we only have space to consider element 1, Accept. Aha! Do you see it? Up above I was coaching you to talk to others and ask them what part they reject! Acceptance, Rejection – we MUST have both if we’re going to understand this rule. Yes, it absolutely DOES help to use the Yin Yang in coming to terms with Rene. How about that?
In breaking this rule down into its elements, it really is hard to keep #s 1 & 2 separate. In fact, I have to talk about #2 right now. If I say Holy Grail to you, can you think of anything other than the Monty Python boys? If you don’t start laughing at the words “killer rabbit” then you don’t know what you’re missing.
Truth is our Holy Grail.
We’ll delve these tomorrow further, but think right now about their application. Which candidates do you accept, which do your reject? Which search assignments do you accept, and why do you reject those you do? Do you see that truth is the Holy Grail for you, already?
And last for today, how do the people you call, those you attempt to introduce yourself to and commence a business relationship, how do they determine whether or not to accept or reject you, how do they judge if you are telling the truth and accept your message as truth, or not?
Focus on that question, and once again, go back and read the rule above, slowly, will you?