On the life of Descartes and his method of rightly conducting the reason and seeking truth in the sciences
Events of world importance have necessitated a change to a new basis of life and economy of a multimillion population on an immense territory. Such work in each particular area calls for a deep, cautious and circumstantial analysis, because the human mind is given to taking the probable for the true, and, resorting to fanciful reasoning, arrives at wrong results rather than correct conclusions. Because of this we deemed it worthwhile to remember the life of a philosopher who called for special caution in reasoning, and who even resolved to put forward his own method for rightly conducting the reason. The life of this philosopher and the basics of his teaching were described with amazing power and brevity by one of the greatest mathematicians of the last century, C G Jakobi, in a public lecture delivered in Berlin on January 3, 1846. This lecture was published in volume 7 of Jacobi’s ’Gesammelte Werke’. Such publications rarely fall into the hands of readers other than specialists in mathematics. This is the reason why we believe that the publication of the translation of this lecture in Physics-Uspekhi is appropriate and timely.